September 8, 2017

Celebrating a sacrament of ‘bold faith’

Couples mark 50th anniversary during Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass with Archbishop Thompson

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson smiles with Kathleen and Michael Dryer of St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis at a reception at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Mara Catholic Center after the Golden Jubilee Anniversary Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Aug. 27. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson smiles with Kathleen and Michael Dryer of St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis at a reception at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Mara Catholic Center after the Golden Jubilee Anniversary Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Aug. 27. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Even as a youth, Eduardo Parada knew the woman he married would be from Indianapolis—despite the fact that he lived in Colombia and had no plans to travel to the Hoosier capital.

Elizabeth and Paul met as young members of the National Association of Advancement for Colored People’s (NAACP) youth council just a few months before the famous Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington.

When John first met Mary, he was “all beat up” from a free-for-all football game while she, on the other hand, was “drop-dead gorgeous.”

These are just a few of the stories that led to 73 couples from southern and central Indiana walking down the aisle and saying “I do” 50 years ago.

These couples celebrated their 50th anniversary this year in a special way on Aug. 27 at the annual archdiocesan Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Together they represented 41 parishes, 3,650 years of marriage, 208 children, 406 grandchildren and 19 great‑grandchildren. (Related story: Couples’ advice: Communicate, be patient and pray together)

The Mass, sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life, was concelebrated by Fathers Eric Augenstein, Patrick Beidelman, Rick Ginther and Todd Riebe, with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson serving as the principal celebrant.

‘Keep Christ at the center of vocations’

In his homily, Archbishop Thompson referred to the day’s Gospel reading in which Peter declared Christ to be the Son of God (Mt 16:13-20).

“Peter for his part was able to listen, discern and boldly proclaim this revelation in faith,” the archbishop said. “Marriage involves the same process of listening, discerning and bold faith. …

“Like Peter, we must be bold in our proclamation of who Jesus is in our lives, our homes, our relationships, communities, workplaces, neighborhoods and every facet of our existence. If you who we are honoring had not been that focused, you would not be sitting here today.”

Archbishop Thompson pointed out that Peter is the one Apostle who was known to be married. Nevertheless, he said, “Peter … desired an ongoing personal encounter with Jesus Christ. For this reason, he dared to take risks and step out of his comfort zone from time to time. Peter’s faith grew to keep Jesus Christ at the center of his life. ...

“We too must keep Jesus Christ at the center of our vocations, be it priesthood, marriage, diaconate, religious consecrated life, even single life, families, homes, parishes, relationships and creation.”

The archbishop noted that the couples were there to celebrate the covenant of marriage, upon which God bestows special grace.

“Each [couple] is here today by the strength of their covenant and the sacramental grace of God,” he said.

“We all have our stories to tell, but each and every one must be founded upon Christ the cornerstone, who beckons us to proclaim as did Peter—in the midst of our marriages, in the midst of our lives, in the midst of our vocations—‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God’ ” (Mt 16:16).

‘One step at a time, together’

The year was 1963. The civil rights movement was underway, and the NAACP youth council was meeting in East St. Louis, Ill.

It was there that Elizabeth, a young Catholic woman, met Paul Malone.

“We were both from that area, and we were both going to college,” said Elizabeth. “We were both involved in the civil rights movement. That was our first connection.”

The couple did not start dating until after the March on Washington in August of that year.

“Things just grew from there,” said Paul.

The couple, members of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Indianapolis, had four sons and now have seven grandchildren.

While their children were raised Catholic, Elizabeth said she and Paul “were married a long time before he converted” and came into the full communion of the Church about five years ago.

“That didn’t stop me from going to services, though,” said Paul.

Elizabeth agreed.

“He’s always participated in the Catholic Church with me and our kids.”

Such commitment is what Paul cited as a primary factor in remaining married for 50 years.

“When you make the commitment to love, honor and cherish for the rest of your life, you should really take that to heart,” he advised. “It’s not just words, you have to believe it.”

The couple reflected on the fact that they’ve been married for half a century.

“In some ways it seems time flew, but in other ways, it’s a long time,” said Elizabeth.

As for Paul, “I can’t get my mind around 50 years,” he admitted. “It’s just one step at a time, together.”

‘Know that God is the center’

John and Mary Paddenburg were both attending Jesuit high schools when they met in El Paso, Texas. John’s best friend introduced him to Mary, who was selling tickets for a spaghetti dinner.

“I thought I’d never see her again, because we were out playing a free-for-all [football] game, and I was all beat up,” John recalled. “She was drop-dead gorgeous. ... She was absolutely a charming young lady.”

He said he thought to himself, “What chance does a guy like me have with a girl like that?”

Quite a good chance, as it turned out.

“He was somebody I didn’t know—I didn’t want to date somebody I’d known all my life,” said Mary, an El Paso native. John’s family had been transferred to the area by the military.

The couple went to college together, dating the entire time. They married the day after Mary’s graduation.

John didn’t plan on going into the military. But the United States had other ideas.

“One day, I found out we were expecting [a child], and two weeks later I found out I was in the Navy,” said John of his entrance into the military via the draft.

He served as a Navy pilot for 31 years in active duty and with the reserves, retiring with the rank of captain.

Through the many years they spent separated during his tours of duty, said Mary, “Faith held everything together.”

That faith was not easy to maintain in the military, said John.

“We would be gone for 14 months,” he said. “Day by day, God starts taking second place. There were days when we’d be taxiing the plane to get in the catapult, and you’d look toward the island, and you’d see the church pennant flying, [and you’d realize] it’s Sunday.”

It bolstered him, he said, “knowing Mary was back home praying for me.”

The Paddenburgs, who have three children and six grandchildren, now worship together at All Saints Parish in Dearborn County.

Mary’s advice for couples to remain married 50 years revolves around faith: pray together, go to Mass frequently and participate in adoration.

“You have to know that God is the center of your life and all you do,” she said.

‘I knew the first time I met her’

Eduardo Parada was only 8 years old living in his homeland of Colombia when he knew he would marry a woman from Indianapolis.

“A friend of ours went to Purdue University, and he married a girl from Indianapolis,” he recalled. “When I saw her I thought, ‘Wow! Indianapolis must have the most beautiful women! So someday I have to go to Indianapolis and get married.’ ”

He moved to San Francisco with his family years later. He joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis.

It was at a dance there that he met his wife Lois, who was a Red Cross volunteer.

“I knew the first time I met her, ‘Oh! This is the girl I was looking for!’ ” he said.

Lois had been praying with her mother for a good Catholic husband for years, particularly calling upon the intercession of St. Anthony.

“Among other things that were very special” to her about Eduardo, said Lois, was his middle name—Anthony; that he shared his birthday with her father, whom she loved dearly and who had passed away; and that he had studied in the seminary.

And, she added, “He was a terrific dancer.”

Their “courtship was through the mail for two years” while he was stationed in Germany, said Lois.

The Paradas, who worship at Holy Spirit Parish in Indianapolis, have four children and several grandchildren.

Although they no longer dance, the couple said they now “walk and talk together, and read together and pray together,” said Eduardo.

“And we like to go to adoration together. It’s a special time for us. It has been the core of our relationship, our faith in God.

“As God is the center, he teaches us to forgive and keep on, never giving up. … With the help of God, everything is possible. You will make it through, and you will be stronger.” †

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