On Feb. 10, my husband Patrick and I had the pleasure of participating in World Marriage Day. This year it was held in Pickardville, a hamlet located in Westlock County approximately 62 km northwest of Edmonton.
The parishioners of St. Benoit Parish were so friendly and welcoming, we felt like old friends returning after a long absence.
The community is full of young families and we were entertained by a nine-month-old who happily played and rolled about on the church hall floor for the afternoon.
The parish has a potluck lunch every Sunday after Mass. The children and teenagers attended a youth rally at the community hall down the block while the parents enjoyed the afternoon program.
We began with the celebration of the Mass. Father Mike Dechant was the celebrant and Brother Louis provided the music.
Brother Louis was accompanied by the parish's own young singers during the Mass, who did a beautiful job.
During the Mass all married couples in attendance renewed their vows and a special blessing was offered for each generation of married couples as well as for those who are single, widowed/widowers, priests or religious and the children.
Flowers were presented to the longest married couple, of 58 years, Frank and Elaine Petryshyn, and shortest married couple, Mike and Maggie Moore.
The theme for World Marriage Day this year was: Live – Love – Learn – Leave a Legacy. The formal presentation began with a thought-provoking skit on what would happen if God, played by Father Mike, talked back when a married couple, Brian and Jen Smeenk, prayed the Lord's Prayer.
Through four separate talks, those in attendance were encouraged to change their world though simple daily actions and decisions.
Patrick and I spoke of how we live as a sacrament. Gavin and Nicole van Kuppenveld addressed how to love as a couple. Brian and Jen Smeenk talked of endeavoring to learn from the struggles and adversities that life brings. Greg and Elly Gelasco inspired us to leave a legacy for our children (and grandchildren).
Norm and Lynn Walker from Westlock also shared their experiences of being a couple blessed by God through the sacrament of Matrimony. Then all couples were commissioned to be "missionaries of Matrimony."