All smiles from Milestone Marriage couples waiting for Mass to start. Photo by Ronnie Khoo
SINGAPORE – Thomas and Cecilia Phang have been married for 50 years. The secret to a long-lasting marriage is, to no surprise, love, but not mere feelings and attraction, but a concrete love grounded in the Catholic faith.
As Cecilia says, “What we always try to remember is that God is love, and that we must always put God first. Our Catholic faith also teaches us that marriage is forever, and that it requires patience, perseverance, forgiveness, cooperation and most of all, love.”
The Phangs, together with their four children and four grandchildren, renewed their marital vows with 38 other couples celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, at the Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s “Celebrate Marriage!” Mass held Holy Trinity Sunday, May 30, at Church of the Holy Spirit.
Said Thomas, “Oh, it’s fantastic, it brings back many, many memories and we are so blessed and privileged to be able to celebrate our milestone anniversary at this special Mass with all our loved ones and friends.”
In his homily, Archbishop Nicholas Chia attributed to the Holy Trinity the power of creation, the work of redemption, and the task of sanctification. He explained that it is necessary to find the Trinity in married lives by always striving to empower spouses and rejoice in his or her creation, to constantly make peace and reconciliation, and to be truthful and faithful in honouring the sanctity of marriage and love for the other.
For Michael and Lisa Koh, a couple of 35 years, it was especially meaningful. They said: “The first time we said our vows, it was just going through the motion, without knowing the gravity of our vows. Now, in the renewal of our vows, it carries a lot of weight because we know through our shared experiences, what it really takes to love each other through sickness and in health, through thick and thin, through seemingly impossible odds, through daily grind and worries, through work pressure and children stress, and through money woes and retirement anxiety.”
Reflected in the celebrating couples’ excitement and wide smiles was the immense and gratifying happiness as reward for dealing with and conquering all the obstacles thrown into their marriage journey.
Gilbet and Millicent Boon, a married couple of 15 years, said, “The happy faces we see around us will be forever etched in our minds to inspire us in our own marriage journey ahead.”
Has it been an easy journey? Without exception, the couples around them resoundingly said “No”. Has it been worth it? Again, without exception, the couples resoundingly said “Yes, very much so”.
A toast to Thomas and Cecilia for 50 years of married life, and to all couples celebrating their milestone anniversaries this year!
And a second toast to Worldwide Marriage Encounter for 31 years of their mission of “turning a good marriage into a great marriage”!
By Wong Foot Hin