LEWISTON, Maine — Asking God to look with kindness on them, to renew their marriage covenant and to increase his love in them, Portland Bishop Robert P. Deeley blessed husbands and wives who came together for the diocese’s annual “Silver & Gold” Mass June 19 at the Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul in Lewiston.

Over 50 couples attended the Mass, including one couple married 70 years and many others married 50 years or more.

“These milestone anniversaries speak to us of the enduring power and strength of married love,” Deeley told the assembly. “In our gathering in prayer today, we lift each of you, and all married couples, up to our loving God, asking him, who is love itself, to help you to grow in love with each other, even as the years pile up, something you well know is not only possible but part of the beauty of marriage.”

The “Silver & Gold” Mass is a celebration of the gift of Christian marriage which establishes a holy covenant among a man, a woman, and God himself.

The bishop said it is important to celebrate marriage because it is the relationship of a man and a woman — as husband and wife — that gives rise to new life.

“It is, as such, the place where family is born, where life is nourished, where love is taught,” he said. “It is, in addition, the place where God becomes known. In the experience of love, we come to know there is a source of all love, and that is God. All of that we find in Christian marriage, the foundation of our church, of our society, our nation and, indeed, of our culture.”

The couples who gathered at the basilica said having God in their lives has been an invaluable part of their marriages, seeing them through both good times and bad.

“It’s everything,” said Muguette Moulin of Auburn, Maine, who has been married to her husband, Tom, for 52 years.

Tom agreed: “I just can’t imagine not having faith. I think they’re so lost, the people who don’t have it.”

“If we didn’t have our faith, I don’t know if we would still be together, because our faith got us through a lot of things,” said Clare Sargent of Sanford, Maine, who has been married to her husband, Ray, for 51 years.

“It’s just a part of us,” added Ray.

“Definitely our faith,” said Joann Finn of Bath, Maine, saying it is the key to her and husband Jim’s 50 golden years together. “There are always problems that come up, and it’s just knowing that’s where we can draw strength from.”

Jim said he believes God brought him and Joann together.

The two met at the Sand Bar in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where they had both gone to hang out with friends. Jim said a beautiful girl caught his eye, and he decided to ask her to dance. She accepted his invitation.

“This tall, dark, handsome guy came up and asked me to dance, so that was the beginning of it,” said Joann.

As they talked, Joann said, they found out they had a lot in common, including both being part Irish and both being Catholic.

“It was just a perfect match,” she said. They married just three months later.

When asked about Joann’s best qualities, Jim cited her patience, while, for her part, Joann fondly remembered the way Jim always loved to play with their four children when they were young.

“He would be busy outside playing baseball in the yard. The neighbors would come over. We always had a baseball game going on,” she said.

The Finns said it was always important to them to set a positive example for their children, especially in their faith, which grew through the years as they got more involved in the church.

Muguette and Tom said it was important to both of them to meet and marry someone who was Catholic, which happened when they met at a dance in Brunswick, Maine. They each had started out with other dates, but by the end of the night, they were a couple, and they have been together ever since. They were married in 1969 at the Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul by Muguette’s late uncle, who was a priest.

Tom said having God in your marriage gives you someone to turn to and lean on besides yourselves.

“We just always prayed a lot and prayed together, and we’ve always believed that if you prayed together, you stayed together,” he said.

Muguette also stressed the need for good communication in a marriage, while Tom’s keys include “a sense of humor, learning how to pick yourself up when you’re down, and knowing that hard work doesn’t bother you.”

Ray and Clare Sargent share a sense of humor, as evidenced by the way they laugh easily together and by Ray’s description of their relationship.

“Clare’s big claim to fame is that she is going to be a saint, and she married me so she could attain sainthood a lot quicker,” he said.

He quickly added that “Clare is a very caring person, very easy to get to talk to,” while Clare describes Ray as “very loving, kind, and generous.”

The couple met at Gorham State College, now the University of Southern Maine, where they were biology lab partners. He did the dissecting. She wrote the lab reports.

They say they went to a dance together and discovered they had a lot in common.

“We got to talking about things we like, things we didn’t like, and it was just amazing how similar our likes and dislikes were. Then, I said something about going to Mass the next day, and she said, ‘Oh, you’re Catholic.’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ So, we went to Mass, and we’ve been going to Mass together ever since.”

These couples acknowledged that marriage isn’t always easy, but they said it’s important to persevere and to rely on your faith when challenges arise.

“Everyone has spats and stuff, and we can be curmudgeons at times, but it just helps out and elevates us, I guess,” said Joann.

Her advice to other couples: “Stay close to Jesus, and God, and the sacraments. The Eucharist — that is what we need.”