Couples renew their commitment at Wedding Celebration Mass

TAYLORS — More than 250 couples from around the state celebrated the renewal of their marriage vows Feb. 8 at the fourth annual Wedding Celebration, sponsored by the Diocese of Charleston, at Prince of Peace Church. Bishop Robert J. Baker offered holy Mass and encouraged couples to renew their commitment to each other and to witness through their commitment, dedication and love to society.

At a time when some states are considering redefining marriage, the event showed that couples committed to God, their children and each other are still a spiritual witness. One such couple who attended were Rick and Mary Gildersleeve of Simpsonville, parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Mauldin.

The Gildersleeves, parents of eight children, said they were thankful for the event and grateful to the bishop.

“Bishop Baker is very concerned about the sanctity of both marriage and life, and he showed he is willing to do something about it for the good of married people and the church,” said Rick, a teacher at St. Joseph’s High School in Greenville.

The couple was eager to renew their commitment to each other.

“It is a sacrament conferring grace on the couple for life, and it is a bond for life,” Rick said.

“The sacrament of matrimony is a difficult vocation to live out in today’s world,” said Lori Dorchak of Gaffney who attended with her husband, Jim. “We decided to renew our marriage vows because we need all the graces we can get.”

Married 14 years this May, with their fifth child due in April, the Dorchaks offered this advice for newlyweds or engaged couples: “Follow the church’s teachings on chastity and natural family planning.” The Dorchaks said they just “stumbled upon these teachings” in their first year of marriage.

“After that, they became a powerful tool for us in learning how to give of ourselves unconditionally,” Lori said.

The Gildersleeves told how the pregnancy of their youngest child was a trying experience for the entire family, but in the end, they were granted great joy.

“My wife went through pregnancy and delivery of our youngest child in Austria,” Rick Gildersleeve said, “and at the time, none of us could speak German. It was difficult, but the whole family sacrificed to help each other.”

They named their youngest son Johannes-Paul, after Pope John Paul II. A few months later, he was kissed and blessed by the Holy Father himself.