MANCHESTER, NH – Heather and Tom Algozzine like to say theirs was an arranged marriage. Although their mothers were definitely in cahoots, it turns out that God had a plan for them, all along.
“Our moms used to work together and always talked about how nice it would be if their kids got married someday,” recalls Heather Algozzine. She further explained that both she and Tom had no idea that their mothers were conspiring. They were both in other relationships – until they weren’t.
That’s when the mom magic kicked in.
“They set us up on a blind date,” said Tom. “And we knew right away.”
That was 25 years ago, and they’ve never looked back – except, maybe, to wonder how life might have been even sweeter if their mothers had prevailed sooner. But God’s timing was perfect for them. They are enjoying the journey that is shifting naturally toward a more inward life as a couple, now that their two sons are in college.
“I think marriage takes a lot of listening, respect, humility, sacrifice –,” says Heather.
“And patience,” adds Tom.
They were among 99 couples in attendance for the April 30 wedding anniversary Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral, an event that draws couples from across the diocese of Manchester. Led by Bishop Peter Libasci, the Mass focuses on the blessings and tradition of marriage. Although COVID forced the annual event into hiatus for a couple of years, it has slowly regained momentum.
Framed around the “milestone” anniversaries, couples celebrating 5, 10, 25, 50, and 60+ years of marriage were invited to participate, although any couple interested in participating was welcome to join the Mass and share anniversary cake afterward, in the church basement.
Corinne and Brandon Sargent were there to celebrate five years of marriage.
“We met right here,” says Brandon.
“He asked me out for coffee one day after Mass,” adds Corinne.
Success for them revolves around the realization that their marriage is about their relationship with Christ and his church.
“It’s about something higher than yourself,” Brandon says.
“When you have a sense of faith you have God’s grace in life and you need that to get through what life throws at you,” Corinne says.
Anne and Raymond Gauthier just celebrated 60 years of marriage in March. They were teenagers when they first met as Civil Air Patrol cadets at Grenier Field.
“I was 15 and he was 16,” says Anne, now 81. That was it for them – they dated for five years and married just before her 21st birthday, and have been committed to one another since. Raymond served in the military and so they spent many years moving from base to base including three different times in Alaska, where they eventually retired and have spent the past 40 years. But they missed family and friends so much that they recently decided to move back to Manchester.
When asked what they believe is the key to a long and happy marriage, Raymond spoke right up.
“It’s a lifetime commitment, and it’s not all 50-50. Sometimes it’s 20-80, or 40-60,” he said.
“Marriage takes patience,” adds Anne, who reflected on having to raise two daughters on her own whenever Raymond was deployed throughout his active military career.
Thomas and Anne Hoeing of Rye normally attend St. Theresa Parish but were happy to take part in the anniversary Mass. Sharing their faith, praying together every day and keeping a good sense of humor have helped them weather the ups and downs of marriage. For them, however, it has all been a joy.
“We’re both grateful to God for bringing us together,” says Anne. “Tom always says ‘thank you for marrying me.’ We have been so blessed, and we see the importance of being centered around God and the church not only in our lives but for our children and our grandchildren.”
Rico and Erin McCahon were celebrating 10 years of marriage while deftly juggling their four children – three daughters and a son. The youngest, still in arms, was happily vocalizing while her parents pondered what marriage has meant to them, so far.
“It’s all the things you would expect, and a lot of things we didn’t,” says Rico, explaining how the first child changed everything, the second one felt a little easier, the third one threw him for a loop and, with No. 4, they are no longer sweating the small stuff.
“Our faith keeps us united and strengthened,” said Erin, who was reflecting during Mass on the four miracles God has given them, a beautiful family they marvel over each and every day.
“As they grow older there are new challenges, but also new discoveries for us,” she adds.
They know some other couples through church also married for 10 years, which provides a sense of fellowship. And, says Erin, they’ve been serving as mentors for engaged couples at their home church of Ste. Marie’s on the West Side through a program called “Fully Engaged.”
Some of the guidance they pass along is making sure you carve out time for one another – put a date night on the calendar, even if it doesn’t always happen.
“There are still things we try to do together, like reading – something we both love to do – even if date nights don’t work out,” she says.
Erin said she also reflected on Bishop Libasci’s message, which touched on how married couples are the shepherds of family life.
“Knowing Jesus is our shepherd, it’s also comforting to know that we’re called to be shepherds, as well, with these little lambs.”
Serving as an example for younger couples is also something the Algozzines mentioned – being able to remain strong in their commitment to one another, and to God, after 25 years is a blessing for them, and one they hope will inspire their own children.
“We try to focus now on modeling what a good marriage is about,” says Heather. “I say to our sons if you want a good example of how to be a husband, just look at your father.”