Daniel Clifford met his future wife, Jacqueline, on a blind date while home on leave from the U.S. Air Force. The Cliffords, parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Peace on Staten Island, were among 144 couples renewing their vows at the Golden Jubilee Wedding Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral June 6.
“Talk about love at first sight, that was it,” Daniel, 74, told CNY about Jacqueline, now 72.
The couple, married at St. Ann’s Church on Staten Island, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary Sept. 12.
“We love each other and raised an outstanding family. Family is the glue that holds everything together,” said Daniel of their family which includes three grown daughters and five grandchildren.
About 850 people, including the jubilee couples, attended the Mass. The couples at Mass and an additional 80 golden jubilee couples, who were unable to attend the Mass, all received a certificate.
This was the first Golden Jubilee Wedding Mass since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Approximately 130 couples received certificates for celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 2020.
Cardinal Dolan opened by explaining why the golden jubilee Mass is so special. The cardinal was joined on the altar by Msgr. Robert Ritchie, rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Msgr. Joseph LaMorte, vicar general and moderator of the curia.
“We celebrate two sacraments,” he said. “Number one, on this beautiful feast of Corpus Christi, we renew our faith in the most Holy Eucharist, and number two, we celebrate the sacrament of marriage and the magnificent part that you all have had in it for so many years. We thank God for your fidelity and your vocation.”
Cardinal Dolan, in his homily, again congratulated the couples.
“Now the real reason for the success of your marriage is because 50 years ago you asked God to be part of it,” he said. “We know that old cliche, it takes two to make a marriage work.
“Fifty years ago or longer, you said, ‘Ah, not quite.’ It takes three. It takes me, it takes you and it takes the Lord, and that’s why you went for the sacrament because you needed God’s help. You said, ‘Honey, I love you,’ or ‘Sweetheart, I love you,’ but this is a challenge we’re undertaking and we’re going to need all the help we can get, from one another, from friends, from family, eventually from our kids and grandkids. But, boy, do we ever need God’s help and that’s why you came for the sacrament.”
Cardinal Dolan later discussed the Feast of Corpus Christi and how the marriage of the jubilee couples helps the Church grow.
“Today, my brothers and sisters is the Feast of Corpus Christi,” he said. “That's when we thank God for the gift of the body and blood of His son in Holy Communion, in the Eucharist, but I want to congratulate you all as well for building up the body of Christ, the Church.
“St. Paul tells us that the Church is the body of Christ. Yes, the Eucharist is the body of Christ but so is the Church and you have helped build up the body of Christ that we call the Church.
“Fifty years ago, it was the two of you and God. Now there are kids and there are grandkids and maybe great grandkids, and the body of Christ has grown thanks to your sacrament.
“Every time we come to Mass, we return to the Last Supper, that first Holy Thursday, and every time we think of marriage, we return to Cana where Jesus, at the request of His mother, worked that first miracle for that married couple at Cana.”
Following his homily, the cardinal invited the jubilee couples to stand, hold each other’s right hand and renew their vows of marriage.
Peter and Rose Altieri lived in the same Arthur Avenue neighborhood in the Bronx and were married at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Bronx May 1, 1971.
“He was mature, nice, trustworthy and respectful. He was a very good-looking guy,” said Rose, 74, of her husband, now 82.
Participating in the Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral was special for Rose, whose sister Jenny DiFroscia died May 1.
“It was special because I wanted my son and grandchildren to witness it. It was a religious celebration and something for my son and grandchildren to remember,” said Rose. The Altieris are parishioners of St. Ann’s in Yonkers.
Mike and Marilyn Galvin, both 73, were married at St. Frances of Rome in the Bronx April 17, 1971, and are now parishioners of St. Anthony’s in Nanuet. They both attended Catholic schools as did their three children. They also have two grandchildren.
“My kids know the feelings we have for one another and they see it in our marriage,” Mike said. “We put everything into our marriage and our kids, and I’m very proud of my family. They turned out to be wonderful people.
“We’re certainly blessed to reach 50 years.”