A special celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony was held Aug. 13 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, in a ceremony presided by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila. The participants were 13 Hispanic couples who had the opportunity to bless their union before God. The ceremony was a Year of Mercy initiative hosted by Centro San Juan Diego (CSJD).
Some of these couples had lived together for over 30 years. That was Marisela Arreola and Susano Izaguirres’ case. For these Saint Cajetan’s parishioners, attending mass and not being able to receive communion with their kids was difficult, they said.
“I’m super excited, it was a blessing from God. It’s something inexplicable,” Arreola said.
As for Izaguirres, his happiness is immense after finally marrying his partner of 30 years.
“I am very grateful to God and how it all happened,” he said.
After the couple heard about the CSJD initiative, Izaguirres called to register, but unfortunately, he said “registration was closed. “
“When I got home I told my wife, I felt very sad, but then she surprised me by telling me that she had called earlier and she got us registered.”
The initiative was presented a year ago when CSJD’s director, Luis Alvarez, assumed his position. Alvarez observed with great concern that at Spanish Masses, many people refrain from receiving Communion. One of the main reasons is that many of them have not been blessed by holy matrimony.
Alvarez saw an opportunity in this Year of Mercy—celebrated by the Church and proposed by Pope Francis—to talk to priests in the Metropolitan area and ask them to participate in this initiative by motivating parishioners to receive this sacrament.
Words form the newlyweds
“Getting married by the Church was wonderful after living together for so long,” said Mario Vega, parishioner at Saint Catherine of Sienna parish. He married his partner Maria after 17 years of living together. “Receiving the blessing of God is something that fills us with the spirit and joy…that, and feeling free of living in sin.”
Erika and Juan Carrillo had been living together for 15 years and have two kids. “The premarital classes were excellent. I thought I knew a lot about marriage after living together for so long, but then I realized I knew almost nothing. We learned a lot on how to live an even better marriage,” said Erika.
“The felling is inexplicable!” said Ivan Ariel, a Saint Anthony of Padua parishioner and a father of three, who married his wife Virna Lisi after living together for 20 years. “We are a Catholic family and this is a greater step to be closer to God,” he stated.
“We are flattered to have this blessing, not everyone has this opportunity,” said Salvador Bonilla, another participant.
After the ceremony, Juan Carlos Reyes, director of family services at CSJD expressed his joy at the occasion.
“I am very happy and I feel satisfied,” Reyes said. Reyes was responsible for leading this initiative with a team of trainers and facilitators. “It is very beautiful to see the happiness of couples and the testimony they gave their children and grandchildren.
“This has also begun to change the extended family (grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, nephews, etc.) too because of the example given by the newlyweds. This is an initiative that touches hearts, and hopefully more couples feel motivated to participate,” Reyes added.
Featured photo by Gabriella Miller. Mavi Barraza contributed to this report.