Joseph and Elizabeth Farina have been identified as the longest-married couple in the Archdiocese of New York.
They were the winners of a contest conducted by Worldwide Marriage Encounter in conjunction with World Marriage Day, Feb. 11. The archdiocese’s Family Life office coordinates the contest.
The Farinas, who reside in New Windsor, were married Nov. 5, 1942, and so they’ve been married for 75 years. They are members of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Newburgh. Their wedding ceremony occurred at Holy Name Crypt chapel in Brisbane, Australia.
Elizabeth, 98, was born and raised in Australia, which is where the couple met while Joseph was serving in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After the war, Joseph worked for many years in the bowling industry (Brunswick Bowling), and was instrumental in introducing bowling to Australia, family members said.
Joseph, 97, was born and raised in Newburgh. He has always been very active with veterans’ causes and groups, including the local chapter of Catholic War Veterans, Post 386, Newburgh, which he helped establish in 1988 as charter commander.
Elizabeth has supported him in those endeavors, often joining her spouse at luncheons and other gatherings. The couple was never blessed with children. (He has four nieces and a nephew; she has a niece who lives in Australia.)
“We marvel at this milestone,” Lynn Distefano, a niece of Joseph’s, said in a Feb. 13 phone interview from the Farinas’ home. “They are wonderful; they are dedicated to each other, dedicated to the Church and dedicated to family.” Mrs. Distefano, a married mother of three, lives in Middletown and is a member of Holy Cross-Our Lady of the Scapular parish, Middletown. She noted that Mr. Farina was a sergeant in the Army and served as a radio operator for Gen. Douglas MacArthur during World War II.
After speaking with CNY, she facilitated a phone interview with the couple, relaying their replies to a reporter’s questions. Joseph has a hearing impairment, and Elizabeth was still a little shaken by a head injury her husband sustained four days earlier when he fell at home. Joseph, who was hospitalized for two days, has recuperated well.
“We lead a clean life—a spiritual life,” Joseph said through his niece, noting that has played a large role in the longevity of the marriage. “And we stay active together; we do many things together.”
He noted also that it has always been important for them to “have respect for each other, even if we don’t always agree.”
Mrs. Farina said her advice to young couples would be to value the importance of compromise. “And it’s very important to go to church together and to pray together, and to respect each other. This is important for young couples, for all couples.”
Mrs. Farina loves cooking and gardening. Mr. Farina enjoys oil painting.
Father John Vondras, a retired priest of the archdiocese, is a cousin of Joseph’s. He is a former pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, and still sometimes celebrates Mass there and at Our Lady of the Lake Chapel, Newburgh.
“They have faith in God and trust in reach other,” Father Vondras said of the Farinas. “They’re a wonderful couple; they’re very compatible and faith-filled…They are living the marriage promise.”