Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard (June 7, 2007)

Published June 7, 2007

Although I did not have a chance to meet any of them personally, last Saturday as I was arriving at the Chancery for some afternoon work, I was greeted by Father Carl Zdancewicz, OFM Conv., from St. John Vianney, who was leaving a pre-Cana meeting attended by about 40 young couples preparing for their forthcoming marriages. Carl told me that he had been a presenter at the pre-Cana session. These young couples will almost certainly stand before the Lord’s altar at some church somewhere during the next few months to make some very solemn promises to each other and in the Lord.

Marriage is a sacrament that is governed by promises. Wedding vows are solemn promises that a groom and bride make to one another. Bridal couples actually administer the sacrament to one another in the exchange of their promises to be faithful, to be open to the gift of children and to enter that union for the rest of their life. Wedding promises are very serious statements that a man and woman make to each other in faith.

Such lifelong promises seem to be frightening to many people in today’s cultural environment. Such serious promises need to be renewed every once and awhile—not because they lose their potency, but because those who make them need to remember in faith to what they have already pledged themselves. Last week, I witnessed the renewal of the promises of a couple who have been married for 25 years. They came to the Chancery with their children and in a quiet and private ceremony they promised each other what they have struggled to live each day for the past quarter century. I believe the special beneficiaries of that renewal were the children who witnessed what their parents had first spoken to one another in love before they were born. Young people need to see that such forever promises are possible and that they bring joy, fulfillment and happiness.

On Sunday, I attended the 50th anniversary celebration of Father Dan McCormick—alias “Swamper.” This first priest of the Archdiocese has endeared himself to countless thousands of people in this local Church over the years. He was “roasted” lovingly by his dear friend (or perhaps by now his former friend) Msgr. Kiernan. For 50 years, Father McCormick has endeavored to live out the promises that he made on June 1 in 1957 to be a priest in service to the people of God in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He is not alone in recalling his priestly promises. There are a number of special festivities that many of our 25th, 40th, and even 60th anniversary priest jubilarians will be celebrating during these next few weeks. We priests all need to remember what we promised to the Lord and His Church however many years ago in the past and to renew our heart’s desire to fulfill those promises.

June is a popular time when many married couples and priests recall their anniversaries and the promises that we may have made in our youth but which today we find even more fulfilling and important in life. We renew them because they have made us happier than we could ever have been had we never spoken them to the Lord. Those 40 young couples who are preparing to speak their solemn vows to one another in the near future should be able to see in the lives of those of us who have made such promises reasons to take heart and to be filled with hope that indeed it is possible to have forever promises make the human heart happy each and every day.