Silver & Gold Mass Honors Couples Celebrating Milestone Anniversaries

Sixty-six years ago, Fran and Betty Riva met at the lunch counter at the local 5 & 10.  She worked there. He sometimes joined his father, who was a moving picture projectionist at the neighboring theater, for coffee. They caught each other’s eye, started dating not long after, and a year later were married. They have been together ever since.

“I play cards with four friends every week. And everybody always says, ‘You’re so lucky to have Fran. He is such a nice guy.’ And he is. He is very thoughtful, kind, considerate, and he was a good father to our children, and he still is,” said Betty.

“She is a beautiful woman, and her personality and everything was just perfect for me,” said Fran. “We have a lovely family, and she was such a good mother to the children.”

Married at the former St. Joseph Church in Old Town in 1958, Fran and Betty were among the more than 25 couples who came together for the Silver and Gold Anniversary Mass, celebrated by Bishop Robert Deeley on Saturday, June 17, at Holy Family Church in Old Town. The annual Mass is a celebration of the gift of Christian marriage.

“I am happy to be here in order to ask God’s special blessing on all the married couples who are here, especially singling out those who are marking those special numbered anniversaries symbolized by the silver and gold: 25 and 50. But we also mark those other special milestone numbers of 10 or 40 and anything over 50. It is a tremendous witness to the grace of God and the love of God to mark these numbers, and that is because it is grace that supports and strengthens you each day in living out your commitment to each other,” the bishop said.

The bishop stressed the importance of the vocation of marriage, saying it is a sacred calling.

“In your love for each other, you show us concretely what love is. You show us what it means to speak of God’s love for us. In living through all the twists and turns that life presents, standing beside each other as strength for each other, you show the fidelity and the perseverance of love. You truly will the good of the other. And, by so doing, you live out your vocation. You are sent, just as were the apostles, to show forth the love of God. That was Jesus’ mission. He passed it on to his apostles. And he passes it on to us. Each of us, in our own way, continues the saving mission of Christ,” the bishop said.

During the Mass, the couples faced each other and joined hands while the bishop invoked the Lord’s blessing on them, praying, “Look with kindness on them today. Amid the joys and struggles of their life together, you have preserved the union between them. Renew their marriage covenant, increase your love in them, strengthen their bond of peace, and grant them your blessing so that, surrounded by their children, family, and friends, and by their community of faith, they may always rejoice in the gift of your grace.”

Together, the couples were celebrating well over 1,200 years of marriage, with five couples, like the Rivas, having been married 60 years or more and another 13 couples having been married 50 years or more.

The Rivas said they wanted to attend the Mass because faith has always been an integral part of their marriage and lives.

“We have total belief that Jesus Christ came to save us and that the love that he gave is a constant love. We do believe that. It is entrenched in us,” said Fran. “He looks over us and we’re taken of.”

Other couples echoed those sentiments. Nancy Saucier, married to her husband, Jim, for 50 years, said they made the more than 150-mile trip from Caribou because attending the Mass meant so much to her.

“I truly believe that a Christian marriage is the difference in making a family whole,” said Nancy. “I’ve always lived by my vows and so has Jim. As a Catholic, it was just something that was very important.”

Daniel and Amy Loring, from Good Shepherd Parish in Biddeford, called faith the foundation of their 10-year marriage.

“Faith in God is the center. It helps through the ups and downs of life, both the joys and the challenges,” said Amy.

Leroy “Bud” Smith and his wife, Ann, said their faith in God is what held them together through their 63 years of marriage.

“Our faith is what we have to fall back on more so than human beings. We believe in the Blessed Mother, and the Holy Family, and Jesus. That’s all there is,” said Bud. “We were always active in the church. We were both in the choir, and we were eucharistic ministers.”

“We did things to try to show God how grateful we were for the blessings that we had over the years,” said Ann.

Ann and Bud met when they were children. Bud used to deliver newspapers to Ann’s home and was friends with her brother. She said she knew even then that there was something special about him.

“If I asked him a question as a young kid, he was always kind and gentle even then, so that is what really started me thinking what a nice person he was. He grew up in a family up five, with brothers and sisters like I did, and we had a lot of things in common.”

“She had the same ideas as I pretty much did. We thought a lot alike and our religion, our faith was always strong. We always got along well,” said Bud.

In addition to faith, the couple said they believe the key to a long, successful marriage is compromise.

“It can’t just go one way. It has to be equal,” said Bud.

William and Dona Goff of Plymouth agree, saying marriage takes a lot of understanding.

“You try to temper your desire to do things, so it’s more compatible with both of us. You give and take is the old adage,” said William.

“We give each other some freedom. If you don’t have an interest in what he does, let him do it,” said Dona. “And, we’ll say I love you one hundred times a day, maybe not quite that much but all the time.”

Dona and William met through a friend and through a car that William had for sale and that Dona was interested in buying, a 1956 Ford Victoria.

“She got the car and me both, so she did pretty well,” said William, laughing.

The couple said they were both rather quiet, but their relationship strengthened over time.

“I don’t think you really realize it, but you find you have similar interests and that just kind of builds on the bonding,” said William.

“I had quite a temper back then, and he kind of mellowed me out,” said Dona.

The couple said that faith in Christ and prayer were always part of their lives, but for some time, they got away from attending Mass. That changed about a decade ago, when William had a strong desire to attend a sunrise service at Easter.  

“It was funny. We missed the sunrise service, but there was a Catholic church there, and we said, well, we missed the service, but we really wanted to go back,” said William.

The couple said they found a welcoming community and have been attending Mass ever since.   

“Now, our faith is stronger than ever,” said Dona.

For Patti and Dave Lindemann, from St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor, attending the Silver and Gold Anniversary Mass was part of their continuing celebration of their 40th anniversary.

“Marriage in the Church has always been very important to us, so we thought the Mass would be another way to continue the celebration with something that is very important to us, which is our faith and being an example of our faith and our sacrament to our family and to fellow Catholics,” said Patti.

Patti and Dave said attending a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend about 15 years ago helped them realize how important it was to keep God as part of their lives and said they also have come to understand the importance of marriage to the life of the Church.

“Marriage is really the foundation of our faith. It is where the Church is created, ongoing. Without families, we don’t have Church. The Church is in Catholics families, and we believe it is extremely important to be an example of our marriage and our faith in the world,” said Patti.

The Lindemanns said that they try to live out their vocation by being witnesses to the joy of marriage wherever they go.

“I think it’s really important not to be just an example of Catholic-Christian marriage in church but also to be an example in the world, when you are sitting at Wendy’s and we’re saying grace together, things like that,” said Patti.

Patti and Dave were Worldwide Marriage Encounter presenters for a number of years, have led marriage preparation, and now lead a marriage enrichment group at St. Paul the Apostle Parish.

“We really do need to proclaim marriage today in the world and give testimony to it and support those marriages,” said Patti.

Patti and Dave say communication, forgiveness, and family time have all been keys to their many happy years together.

“Family is so important to us. Our kids now all have their own children, but we still enjoy spending time as a big family together,” said Dave.

Family has also always been a priority for Nancy and Jim Saucier, who have three sons and six grandchildren, including several teenagers, which Nancy describes as her favorite age group.

“I love teenagers. I love to talk with them. I love what they share,” she said. “I think you can make the most impact in those years.”

Nancy and Jim met in Fort Kent, where she had moved with some friends after graduating from nursing school. She said Jim had come by to pick up his friend, who was dating one of her girlfriends, and he asked her out to dinner. Despite making what she calls the “worst pizza” and despite the fact that he lived in Caribou, the two stayed together and were married 10 months later.

“I think we were connected through God, and that is where we’ve stayed,” she said. “We just lived by the vows we took on our wedding day.”

Marriage, she said, takes a lot of patience.

“A lot of cooperation, communication, listening, understanding, and, first and foremost, faith and love,” she said.

Nancy said she and Jim have always supported one another, and that care has extended to others. Nancy is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion who takes Communion to the homebound and to residents of a nursing home. She has also provided hospice care for nine years.

It is such care for each other that Bishop Deeley said we are all called to do.

"Jesus sent the apostles to continue his work. So he sends us," the bishop said. "And just as he worked miracles through them, so he will work miracles through us, if we give him the chance."


Married couple
Fran and Betty Riva
Married couple
Opening procession
Bishop Deeley delivers the opening prayer.
Married couples
Married couples
Married couple
Father Kyle Doustou
Bishop Robert Deeley
Couple holding hands
Bishop Deeley blesses the couples.
Couple holding hands
Couple holding hands
Couples holding hands
Couple holding hands
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Fran and Betty Riva with the bishop
Couple with the bishop
Couple with the bishop
Couple with the bishop
Couple with the bishop
Amy and Daniel Loring with the bishop