The annual Blessing of the Couples ceremony is a time-honored St. John’s University tradition celebrating the love and fidelity of alumni couples to each other and to alma mater. Like many special events, this year’s celebration was held virtually and was the first presided over by new University President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.
“We all wish that we could be together in person, but we are together in the eyes of God and with each other,” Fr. Shanley said. He added that the renewal of vows that occurs during the ceremony is a wonderful tradition that should take place regularly. “We need to, intentionally, in the presence of God and our spouses, recommit ourselves to living the love of Christ in the sacrament of marriage.”
He explained that while all marriages are unique, what binds them together is that they are sacraments of Christ’s love. Fr. Shanley stressed that as a priest he serves as officiant, but it is the couple who administers the sacrament to each other. “The vows are the words that make the sacrament real—and they are the most important words you will ever speak.”
“Making promises is one of the most significant and profound ways in which we image God,” Fr. Shanley said. “We believe in a God who makes and keeps promises to us. God continually covenants with his people, and the final covenant is in Jesus, where God’s promise to us of love and eternal life is made real in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.”
Fr. Shanley explained that married couples give the world a sacramental sign of the fidelity and promises of God. He added that, sadly, we live in a world where much is discarded and much seems provisional. “With God, there is no throwaway. There is no provisional love. With God, there is only unconditional and unending love.”
Married couples bear witness, in the lives they lead and the sacrifices they make for each other, of Christ’s love for his people and the Church. Fr. Shanley told his audience that he was personally moved by the celebration.
“The witness of married couples is so important to the life of the Church and of our University. So I thank you for your witness. I join with you today in prayer, that the promises you made will last forever and that the love that you have for each other will be a witness to the world of the God who promises to be with us forever.”
Following his remarks, Fr. Shanley conducted a virtual renewal of vows for all of the couples watching remotely.
Photos of alumni couples and their families were displayed throughout the ceremony, and Deacon Rachid Murad ’94SVC performed a Gospel reading from St. Paul. Deacon Murad and his wife, Ianthe Dunn-Murad, Ph.D. ’95C, ’97G, are frequent attendees at the annual ceremony.
After the ceremony, a virtual toast was offered by Mark A. Andrews, Director, Office of Alumni Relations, in honor of the alumni couples, as well as the 150th anniversary of St. John’s University.