By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Raymond “Sam” and Ethel Marrillia met in the 1940s at a big band dance in downtown Louisville.
“One of our friends introduced us. I thought she had the most beautiful clothes in the city,” he said.
Ethel recalls that she thought Sam was a “nice-looking guy.”
“After I got to know her, we got along fine,” he said in an interview at the couple’s home last week.
That was more than seven decades ago. The couple — who are parishioners of St. Margaret Mary Church — celebrated their 70th anniversary July 3.
The Marrillias were one of 130 couples who renewed their vows at the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass Oct. 21 at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth Street.
The liturgy, which was celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, honored couples celebrating 30, 40, 50 and 60-plus years of marriage in 2018.
The Mass is sponsored by the archdiocese’s Family Ministries Office, one of the 100 or so services and agencies supported by the Catholic Services Appeal.
At the Mass, Archbishop Kurtz thanked and congratulated the couples gathered.
“Thank you to your commitment to Christ, to the church and to the world,” he said.
During his homily the archbishop said the witness of married couples is needed in “every corner of our society.”
It’s needed, he said, “for your own families, for your neighbors, for the people in your parish, for me as your archbishop,” he said.
The archbishop referred to a homily delivered earlier in the day by Pope Francis where he compared the heart to a magnet.
“Today we celebrate that God has made your heart into a magnet,” he said, encouraging the couples to remember their first attraction.
“God has attracted you the way a magnet is attracted to a strong piece of metal. As that attraction grew and became clear through God’s grace, you committed yourself to one another for the rest of your lives,” he said.
He told those celebrating anniversaries that as the couples committed themselves to one another, God “purified your attraction, he purified it by the love of Jesus Christ.”
“That’s what the sacrament of matrimony is all about — taking a couple’s natural love and making it pure,” he said.
He noted that marriages don’t remain the same through the years.
“They change as years go by. There are different challenges and different joys. They are not static,” he said.
And after facing sickness, poverty or disappointments, couples say the challenges “made us love each other even more,” he said.
Those sentiments seemed to ring true for the Marrillias. They said their faith in God and one another was a source of strength in their marriage.
“It kept us together,” said Sam, who converted to the Catholic faith after the two were married.
Ethel, who is a lifelong Catholic, said her faith has been an important part of her life.
For 36 years, Ethel, 89, worked at International Harvester and retired in 1984. She’s a self-described chatterbox and is still clearly smitten with her husband of seven decades.
“I love him. Some days I tolerated him,” she said with a quick laugh.
Sam, 90, worked in the bar and restaurant business for 40 years. He retired about five or six years ago.
The couple have one son, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Marriage, Sam said, is “about a give and take.”
“People have to work together,” he said.
Ethel nodded and agreed.
“You have to roll with the punches. Life is not perfect. We’ve gone through some hard times and some good times,” she said.