Giving yourselves, one to another
Diocese celebrates the gift of matrimony
See the list of those who registered for the anniversary Mass below.
By David Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
When asked the secret to a long and happy marriage, Helen Gerber replied, “A good husband.”
Her husband, Richard, laughed and added, “A good cook. That solves a lot of problems.”
What went unsaid—but was obvious—was that the two were in sync—in love and in humor—smiles, gentle chuckles, affection and laughter adding to the bond that has kept them together in marriage for 69 years.
They were the longest married couple in attendance at the Oct. 15 Matrimony Anniversary Mass reception at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dodge City, an annual celebration that honors God’s gift of matrimony.
Presiding at the Mass was the Most Rev. Ronald M. Gilmore, Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City.
The longest married couple—but who were unable to attend the reception—was John and Rita Riebel, who have been married for 72 years.
From their home in Minneola, John Riebel told the Catholic that the two met when she was helping tend the cattle at her cousin’s farm in Ness City, where John was reared.
“I saw her look out the window and I asked her if she would like to go into town with us that evening,” John said with a grin. “She turned me down flat.”
“He was persistent,” Rita added. Eventually the two spent their first date at the movies.
Meanwhile, John’s brother, Clarence, began dating Rita’s sister, Julia.
“I lived in Holcomb and John lived in Ness City,” Rita said. “John and Clarence used to come over to Holcomb to see us. They would say they were going rabbit hunting, and instead they’d come and see us.”
Both couples later married; Clarence and Julia have since died. Rita is the last of her 10 brothers and sisters.
John, one of 12 children (four of whom became nuns), helped his father on their farm after a disease caused his father to lose two legs and one arm.
When asked the secret to a long marriage, Rita replied without hesitation: “Our religion.” All marriages include ups and downs, some downs more serious than others. “It was our religion that helped us through those difficult times.”
Editor’s Note: See the related article which tells the couple’s fascinating family history on Page 9.
Before the couples renewed their marriage vows during the Mass, Bishop Gilmore asked those gathered just what or who it is that makes a marriage.
“The State has a stake in each marriage, but it cannot tell you what a marriage is. The State does not make your marriage. The Church has a stake in your marriage, and it can tell you what God thinks marriage is, but the Church does not make your marriage. The pastor has a state in each marriage, and he, too, can tell you what marriage is, if he stays within the tradition, but the pastor does not make your marriage.
“Neither does the flowers, or the candles, or the music; neither does the dress and the tuxedo, and the herd of attendants…,” Bishop Gilmore said.
“Who does make it, then? … You do. You create your own marriage, just as God created man and woman, and the institution of marriage. And how did he do that? Keep it simple. He loved, he spoke his word, and there it was, the world of ours. ‘God said, Let there be light, and there was light.’
“Made in the image and likeness of God, you do almost the same thing on your wedding day. You love, you speak your word, and there it is, this marriage of yours. You stand before the priest, the Church, and the State, but it is your word (your love, your promise, your vow) it is your word that makes your Marriage. You gather up the best that is within you, you condense it into a fragile human word, and you give yourselves away, on to the other, and to no one else, and until death do you part….
“We celebrate today what you have done in all the years of your marriage. With you, we rest in the developed love you have for one another. With you, we are utterly lost in wonder at the serious, tested, mature love of which your marriage sings. All if us in the diocese hear that haunting melody today, and we are enchanted by it. So, we thank God, and you, for filling our world with it.”
(Bishop Gilmore’s homily can be found in its entirety at dcdiocese.org/swkscatholic.)
For many, it was a family affair. Little children squirmed in the pews; elderly parents celebrated their children’s anniversaries (and visa versa); and at the reception, friends and family merged from the formality of Mass to the informality of handshakes and hugs, delighting in old friends, making new ones, and enjoying a delicious meal of baked chicken.
Bishop Gilmore made his way around the room, greeting all those in attendance, while chancery staff served the meals. This was followed by the handing out of certificates to the couples as each name was called.
In a past Matrimony Anniversary celebration, the Most Rev. John B. Brungardt shared this prayer: “We thank you, God, for your presence in these marriages. Please help them to grow ever closer to you and to each other throughout this life so they may rejoice in your love eternally.”
Verónica and Miguel Reyes, Prince of Peace Parish, Great Bend
Stacy and Jacob Bynum, St. Dominic Parish, Garden City
Ana and Juan Gaytan, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
Erika and Gerardo Hernandez, St. Mary Parish, Garden City
Adriana and Anthony Dingus, St. Mary Parish, Garden City
Georgina and Rene Paz, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
Yadira and Saul Hernandez, St. Mary Parish, Garden City
Kayla and Scott Gleason, St. Nicholas Parish, Kinsley
Evangelina and Miguel Guzman, St. Mary Parish, Garden City
Paty and Sergio Carmona, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Liberal
Maria and Aquilino Reyes,
Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City (34 Years)
Jana and Curtis “Sam” Widener, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Liberal
Carolina and Jose Luis Hernandez, St. Mary Parish, Garden City
Ruth and Allen Morton, St. Andrew Parish, Wright
Maria Cecilia and Ventura Martinez Hernandez,
Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
Dee and Izzy Longoria, Mary, Queen of Peace Parish, Ulysses
Raquel and Enrique Rios,
Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City (42 years)
Rita and John Oborny, Holy Trinity Parish, Rush Center, Kansas
Toney and Victor Hernandez, Mary, Queen of Peace Parish, Ulysses
Cynthia and Raymond Perez, Sacred Heart Parish, Larned
Maureen and Leon Flax, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
Jenny and Henry Cruz, St. Mary Parish, Garden City
Paula and Kenneth Vanwinkle, Sacred Heart Parish, Saint John, Kansas
Kathryn and Richard Werner, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dodge City
59 Years: Rosemary and Robert Demel, Prince of Peace Parish, Great Bend
59 Years: Louise and Dwaine Lampe, St. John the Baptist Parish, Spearville
58 Years: Barbara and James Brungardt, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Liberal
57 Years: Marilyn and Dennis Malleck, Sacred Heart Parish, Ness City
57 Years: Rita and Blaine Venters, St. Andrew Parish, Wright
54 Years: Donna and Leroy Schawe, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dodge City
54 Years: Shirley and Maurice Stein, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
53 Years: Ruth and Edwin Schmidt, St. Boniface Parish, Sharon
53 Years: Ellen and Ernest Young, Holy Rosary Parish, Isabel, Kansas
53 Years: Marcie and John Putnam, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dodge City
51 Years: Eileen and Jerome Huslig, St. Joseph Parish, Ellinwood
51 Years: Patricia and Melvin Habiger, St. John the Baptist Parish, Spearville
Vivian and Vern Goetz, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
Rita and John Liggett, St. Michael Parish, Rush Center, Kansas
Corina and Edd Ybarra, Mary, Queen of Peace Parish, Ulysses
MaryIda and George Heskamp, St John the Baptist Parish, Spearville
Sandra and Russell Schartz, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
Rozanne and Merton Veeder, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
Helen and Nick Elsen, Prince of Peace Parish, Great Bend
69 Years: Helen and Richard Gerber, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
67 Years: Neola and Clarence Herrman, Cathedral of our Lady of Guadelupe Parish, Ensign
65 Years: Norma and Bernard Brown, Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Dodge City
62 Years: Pat and Jerry Krier, St. Joseph Parish, Ashland
Rita and John Riebel, St. Anthony Parish, Minneola