FORT MILL—Joe and Inge Knippenberg of Fort Mill were married 63 years ago in a little church outside Salzburg, Austria. Over the years, they have returned there on milestone anniversaries — their 25th, 40th, 50th and 60th — to renew their vows.
On Feb. 11, they stayed a little closer to home and celebrated their commitment to marriage with more than 100 other couples at the annual Marriage Anniversary Celebration held at St. Philip Neri Church and sponsored by the Office of Family Life.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass and asked all of the couples to stand and hold hands as he blessed their marriages. During his homily, he said their example is especially important in a society that seems to give little value to marriage and commitment.
“You are here because you want to celebrate marriage, and you have found a sense of fulfillment in your spouse and in family life,” he said. “No marriage is without sacrifice and difficulty, but you know that through the Holy Spirit, and when a marriage is blessed by God, anything is possible.”
As he does each year, Bishop Guglielmone asked the couples how long they had been married. Several had been married more than 60 years, including the Knippenbergs and two other couples from St. Philip Neri.
After the Mass, those with the longest marriages laughed and talked about their lives together and offered advice on what makes a marriage successful.
“I would give newlyweds the same advice we gave to our kids — be serious about what you’re getting into and realize that this relationship is going to last the rest of your life,” Mr. Knippenberg said. “Realize you both have your own personalities, and don’t give up your own. Compromise in everything and work things out together.”
Joseph and Agnes Petruk will celebrate their 64th anniversary in April. They have three children, eight grandchildren and six great-grands.
Mr. Petruk believes an experience early in their marriage helped them form a strong relationship. After he left the U.S. Navy, the couple drove half away across the country together from Michigan to his new job in Seattle. In their new home, they were not close to family or old friends.
“When you are away from friends and relatives, you have to learn how to work together and solve your own problems, and that is what we did and still do,” Mr. Petruk said.
Mrs. Petruk said faith in God is one of the most important elements of a good marriage. She also said it is important for couples to enjoy their time together and value each other.
“After all these years, when we’re separated from each other it is very lonely,” she said. “Where I go, he goes, and vice versa.”
Tony and Ann DiNoto have been together for 62 years and have been members of St. Philip Neri since the parish started. They both said the key to a good marriage is working through disagreements.
“Of course you are going to argue sometimes — everybody does — but get it out and let it go,” Mrs. DiNoto said. “Always kiss and make up!”
Photo, Miscellany/Christina Lee Knauss: Participants at the annual Marriage Anniversary Celebration held Feb. 11 at St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill applaud the commitment to the sacrament.