Couples celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2023, and those preparing to marry, gathered together at St Chad's Cathedral for this year’s Thanksgiving Mass for Marriage.

The Mass, celebrated by Bishop Stephen Wright on Saturday 29 April, the Feast of St Catherine of Siena, featured a renewal of commitment and blessing of married couples.

A commemorative Mass booklet listed 25 couples celebrating milestone anniversaries, from their 1st and every five years up to 60 years, along with two couples preparing to marry. Many other couples also participated.

In his Homily Bishop Stephen said: "Today we celebrate your “yes”.

"As we celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we celebrate Jesus’s very presence in you. Christ is present in the holy sacramental bond of matrimony. You have said yes to loving the Lord in your love for one another, husband, and wife. On behalf of the whole Church, I thank you for your prayerful discernment in freely choosing to marry. I thank you for your witness to the Lord and for your service. I thank you for your faithful married life."

Read Homily in full

After Holy Mass all were invited for light refreshments in the Grimshaw Room.

The sacrament of matrimony is also a vocation. Through the vows taken a man and woman are joined together for life.

A marriage takes place in the presence of God and the faith community, but it is an ongoing witness, not just of the love and unity of a man and wife but, as St Paul writes, of the great sacrificial love Christ has for His bride, the Church. (Eph 5:22-32)

The grace of the sacrament is there to strengthen the couple who should be open to creating and raising a family.

This year’s Thanksgiving Mass was organised by Paul Northam, the Diocesan Advisor for Evangelisation and Discipleship with Marriage & Family Life.

“It was very encouraging to see so many couples who wanted to give thanks for the gift of their marriages, as well as couples who will be getting married this year,” said Paul.

“This has been our first Mass for Marriage for two years, and I thank all those from the Vocations Office, St Chad's Cathedral and the couples themselves, who helped to make this a beautiful celebration of the importance of married love in the life of the Church.

“I also wanted to acknowledge my particular gratitude for the vision of Lianne Pap in establishing this annual Mass for Marriage, and upon who's good work we are building. I look forward to extending another invitation in 2024 for couples to celebrate with us once again."

Marriage and Family Life in the Archdiocese of Birmingham

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Thanksgiving Mass for Marriage 2023