PALO, Leyt, Jan. 10, 2016 – 63 moms and dads in San Joaquin Parish this town exchanged I do’s in a church wedding on Jan. 9, the Feast of Black Nazarene
The ceremony was so far, the parish’ biggest mass wedding since super typhoon Yolanda devastated the area, killing hundreds of parishioners in 2013.
Parish priest Fr. Ric Marpa said there was a need to help cohabiting couples to finally receive the church’s blessings.
Marpa, who is concurrently the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Palo, said the event showed the parishioners’ steadfast faith despite the trauma caused by typhoon Yolanda.
The parish decided the feast of the Nazareno, during which the Church in the Philippines commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice to save humanity, was the best time to hold the wedding.
Parish secretary Grecia Potente revealed that the oldest to avail of the church-initiated mass wedding was Domingo Clamaña, 60, who had been living with his partner, Sherly Cabarubias, 41, for 16 years and had begotten four children.
However, Dennis Daloso, 50, and Ma. Jeanean Sales, 45, had lived the longest time together, at 27 years, among the 63.
Marpa, a Law graduate, assisted the couple who still lacked vital documents needed for the sacrament, largely because of the storm surge that ravaged the villages under the San Joaquin Parish.
Missing documents, aside from financial constraints, was the main reason the couples had been unable to get married in church.
Lady Ann Loyola, 26, who after three children was wedded to her live-in partner for 7 years Antonio Ignas, 29, is grateful to the parish for the wedding ceremony.
For her and Antonio, the assistance the parish office offered was a blessing, especially because they are financially incapable of arranging a church wedding.
In his homily, Marpa discussed the conjugal nature of marriage, which comes from the Latin words “com” and “iugum”, meaning “with yoke or burden.”
“There is no such thing as [a] perfect marriage,” he said, calling marriage instead a “struggle” of both the husband and wife.
In analogy he said, “With friends, sorrows are halved and joys are doubled.”
Just like how Christ suffered to the point of death for the people God loves so much, he warned, “The person you love most is the person who can hurt you most.”
In his concurrent task as marriage advocate in the Archdiocesan Matrimonial tribunal, Marpa has encountered in his counseling, couples who would contend that they could not hurt their spouse with being hurt themselves.
“The person who loves cannot hurt the other without herself hurting,” he stressed.
Married to be holy
This, he said, could be avoided if the couple will consider marriage as a means towards sanctification.
Finally, he challenged the couples to “mean what you say and say what you mean,” before commencing with the formal rites of the church wedding.
Prior to this ceremony, the parish conducted in July last year a mass wedding for 32 couples.
Following typhoon Yolanda, the parish was able hold a mass wedding in December 2014 with only seven couples blessed. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros / CBCP News)