This Valentine’s Day, St. Mark parishioners will celebrate sacrament of matrimony
HUNTERSVILLE — St. Valentine's Day is more than Cupid's bow and a box of chocolates for Grand Knight Alex Sabo of the Knights of Columbus at St. Mark Church in Huntersville. The annual celebration of love comes at a time when the institution of marriage itself is being put to a test on a statewide constitutional ballot.
Sabo and the Knights are sponsoring the first St. Valentine's marriage vow renewal and dance for couples at the 15-year-old church. The event takes place on Feb. 18. The evening begins with a marriage vow renewal, presided over by Monsignor Richard Bellow, pastor of St. Mark Church, who plans to talk about the amendment. "As Catholics we have to stand up and be counted on this issue," said Bellow.
The event, which will feature a dessert bar and an evening of dancing isn't meant to be a political statement on marriage, Sabo said. "We just want to let people know how sacred and special marriage is."
The vow renewal comes as awareness of the North Carolina marriage referendum increases via news coverage and Internet activity.
Voters in North Carolina will decide in a statewide referendum on May 8 whether the definition of a marriage as being only between one man and one woman should be protected in the state constitution. State law currently recognizes heterosexual marriages as the only legally defined domestic partnership, but as a law it can be changed by the legislature or by a judge as has happened in five states. Enshrining it in the state constitution means it can only be changed by a vote of the people.
Soon Catholic Voice NC will be distributing a series of bulletin inserts to parishes in both the Diocese of Charlotte and the Diocese of Raleigh. The inserts answer questions about the amendment and combat misinformation being circulated by opponents of traditional marriage. Bishops from both diocese are producing a series of YouTube videos to explain Church teaching about the sacrament of matrimony.
This week pastors in both dioceses were sent texts to include with Prayers of the Faithful in upcoming Masses, as well as a prayer for marriage. Each reiterates the sanctity of the sacramental bond of matrimony. Depending on the decision of the pastor, the prayers could be read until the weekend of May 5-6, just before the referendum vote.
Sabo describes his wife Christine as "my soul mate, my everything, my life." After 30 years of marriage, he added, " it might be good to go in front of God again and make that commitment. We both devote our love for each other to God."
— David Hains, director of communication
See the videos: Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis and Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge are producing a series of four videos to educate the faithful about the state constitutional amendment to protect marriage. View the first video by Bishop Jugis on the Diocese of Charlotte's YouTube channel.
Get involved: Updates about the campaign for the N.C. constitutional amendment on marriage are at www.catholicvoicenc.org.
Read more: Basics of marriage and Church teaching are compiled in an easy-to-read format at www.marriageuniqueforareason.org. Also check out the U.S. bishops' site, www.foryourmarriage.com, for marriage tips and support.
We want your wedding photos!
As we write about the upcoming amendment defining marriage in N.C., we'd love to include your wedding photos.
Pictured above: Online staffer Kimberly Bender and her husband, Bill, during their wedding ceremony in April 2009.
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy