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Couples celebrate, affirm marriage vows at St. Mary’s Cathedral

new 13 marriage PAGEBishop Daniel Walsh incensed the rings of the couples renewing their marriage vows. (Photo by Dennis Callahan/Catholic San Francisco)

February 23, 2017
Valerie Schmalz

“One thing I want you to know – we never dated.”

Fifty years later Alicia and Delbert Sagasy’s account of their courtship and marriage makes them both laugh, and they are a little fuzzy on the details.

The couple met in college but never dated, says Alicia Sagasy. Her future husband Delbert immigrated at 21 to the United States, where he joined the Army for three years. After he got out, he started wondering “Is this lady married or not? I wrote my cousin,” Delbert Sagasy said. “I tried to date her (in college) but we were in Manila and the Filipino tradition is very strict.”

“Then he started writing me, and that was that,” Alicia Sagasy said. Now the Our Lady of Mercy parishioners have two grown children and six grandchildren. “It somehow worked out.”

“There must have been some kind of connection. And of course prayer. I really prayed hard,” Alicia Sagasy said. “I prayed a lot for the right person in my life. I did not ask for him.”

“Fifty years later …,” added Delbert Sagasy, with a grin.

The Marriage Anniversary Mass celebrates couples’ special anniversaries, beginning with five years, although the archdiocesan Marriage and Family Life Ministry welcomes any couple who wants to renew their vows and celebrate their marriage at the annual event at St. Mary’s Cathedral. This year, retired Santa Rosa Bishop Daniel Walsh celebrated the Mass and cathedral rector Father Arturo Albano delivered the homily.

“God surely smiles on you today,” the cathedral rector said, speaking in English and then Spanish. “We live in a world where love, for many couples, for many people, has become a disposable item, like disposable plates and cups.

“We live in a culture of the temporary. We live in a culture of the provisional. For a lot of couples, love has become a disposable item.”

“In this historic reality, you dare to bear witness that permanent love is possible. That permanent commitment to marriage is possible and also beautiful,” Father Albano said. “You realize that your marriage is God’s plan.”

St. Luke parishioners Aileen and Andrew Choi, married 15 years, came to the anniversary Mass because they saw it mentioned in Catholic San Francisco. “It’s really important to have a sacramental blessing,” said Aileen, who with her husband teaches religious education at the Foster City parish. Their marriage is “the core of our lives,” said Andrew Choi. “We want to make sure we do this on a regular basis. To get inspired, motivated by the ones who are married for 60 years. That’s pretty awesome.”

John and Marilyn Lee, married 60 years, emigrated from Trinidad in 1970 with their four daughters. Members of St. Gabriel Parish, until recently the couple could be spotted walking together to 7 a.m. Mass at St. Cecilia for daily Mass. Today, they drive, Marilyn Lee said, but they still attend Mass together each day. “To be happy, you have to do what God says. Love your neighbor as yourself, and sometimes love your neighbor more than yourself,” Marilyn Lee said.

Her husband John Lee said, “To me, you made three vows. You made a vow to the church and the people, a vow to your wife and you made a vow to God. You keep the vows, God will give you the grace.”

Ed Hopfner, director of Marriage and Family Life for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said the annual anniversary Mass celebrates marriage in its true meaning: “As Father Arturo said, ‘in this throwaway age’ it is proof that something that is intended to be permanent can be permanent, and it is not just possible, it is beautiful.”

The longest married couple at the Mass were Edgar and Lorelei Fulwider, married nearly 69 years. Parishioners of Church of the Good Shepherd in Pacifica, they have lived in the coastal town most of their married life. “She’s my best friend,” said Edgar Fulwider. The couple have two daughters, Suzanne Thomas and Kathleen Zeno, two grandsons, and a third ‘adopted’ daughter Penny Blazej who came to the Mass with them.

The Fulwiders met when Edgar Fulwider was staying with his uncle while his ship was getting repaired after being badly damaged in Okinawa. “I did not want to meet him,” said Lorelei Fulwider. “I had a boyfriend, and we were going steady.

“I met him,” she said, “and that was it.”

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