The ARK, a publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF); Volume 25; Edition 2; April, May and June 2014

The ARK, a publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF); Volume 25; Edition 2; April, May and June 2014
All That Sustains Us and Hope

To view a complimentary copy of The ARK, a publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF); Volume 25; Edition 2; April, May and June 2014, please go to the link below. You will also be able to access earlier editions of the ARK at this same link:

Select “Other Publications” at the top of the opening page ~ Then scroll down to find the ARK (USA) ~ Select 2014 ~ Then select April-June

The PDF format of The ARK, a publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families (AAIF); Volume 25; Edition 2; April, May and June 2014 may be found at this link also: The ARK, a publication of the AAIF April, May and June 2014; Volume 25; Edition 2

AAIF is an official affiliate of the Interchurch Families International Network – IFIN

The theme that this edition begins to explore is All That Sustains Us and Hope

Topics that will serve to support this general topic that may be found in this edition of the ARK:

~ Pastoral Care Needs for the Family as of 2014 – Based Upon the building block concept of the need for having “ A Profound Connection Between Two People.”
~ Pastoral care of the family: Will Interchurch Families’ needs be considered by our churches and by the Vatican as they study the needs of the family in 2014?
~ When ‘The Promise’ is a Problem’ by William P. McDonald
~ Hope Comes From Inspiring and Dedicated People ( Who Have Been Guided by God); inspiring quotes for all of us by famous Americans
~ Marcus Borg Examines What It Means To Be Christian; The Implications for Interchurch Families and Ecumenists: The Questions by M.J. Glauber


~ The Recognition of Something Greater than the Self; This is the Hope We All Seek Hope and Faith; Some Short Quotes Filled With Great Inspiration


~ What is Your Experience of God? A Discussion by M.J. Glauber of the Blog “Spiritual Stuff” written by Father Terrence P. Ryan, CSP


~ How do we Raise Children in Inter-Church or Interreligious Families? by Daniel Olsen


~ ”God Is Calling Us to Follow” by Barbara Brown Taylor with Implications for Interchurch Families and Ecumenists by M.J. Glauber


~ Our Town, Our American Life Examined, Thornton Wilder’s play discussed with questions inspired from the play for all of us by M.J. Glauber


~ Getting Lost in Our Lives and Discovering the Meaning of Christ’s Resurrection in a Personal Way with implications for interchurch families and ecumenists by M.J. Glauber


~ Marriage Moments: by Saint James Roman Catholic Church, Louisville, KY


~ Is Having A Goal To Achieve Christian Unity Enough? What Will Christian Unity Look Like When It Is Finally Achieved? A discussion of the implications of the Ecumenical Council of 1439 in Florence, Italy for Interchurch Families and Ecumenists in 2014 (with links and titles for doing further research on related topics)


~ A Dictionary Definition for Prophecy, with questions by M.J. Glauber


~ Practical Tips for Actions That May Help to Sustain Our Lives; and Give Us Hope; Input from Dr. Dale Atkins with Implications for Interchurch Families and Ecumenists with two Bible Verses that show that it is God’s love for us that sustains us.

~ Many Thanks to everyone who made this edition of the ARK possible.

Please share this edition of the ARK:

With others you may know who are in Interchurch Families,

With couples who may be considering entering into an Interchurch Marriage,

With the extended families of Interchurch Families or Interchurch Couples who wish to find ways to be supportive,

With anyone who may be called upon to give pastoral care to interchurch families,

With anyone who may either teach or who may be doing research about interchurch families and/ or our role on the journey to Christian Unity “That all may be one” (John 17:21),

With anyone who ministers to families so that the possibility and potential that interchurch families hold for Christian Unity can be explored by way of remote preparation,

With Sunday school teachers or catechists who may consider the role of interchurch families and the role they play as lived examples of Christian Unity on our greater journey toward Christian Unity “That all may be one” (John 17:21),

With College Campus Ministers so that they may be able to discuss the possibility that 50% of all marriages in the United States have the potential to become “Interchurch Marriages” – Some of these marriages become church drop outs. Some find a neutral church. Some convert; the conversion rate seems to be 50-50 as to which rate the couple will move. The drop out rate seems to be high; this should be of concern to most denominations. It seems paramount then that some kind of positive input be given to the concept that being Interchurch is also positive for Christian Unity.

Many Blessings are extended to all, especially to those who are sharing this journey with us, moving us all toward Christian Unity.

Mary Jane Glauber, Volunteer Servant Editor of the ARK.


P.S. Interchurch Families and those who give us pastoral care may find this link to be useful:


























Please note that any advertisements that may appear on this page have been selected by

This allows us access and use of this site. Thank you for your understanding



Religious Traditions And Challenges For Interfaith Families with Implications for Interchurch Families

Religious Traditions And Challenges For Interfaith Families ; The Diane Rheem Show on NPR

The ARK, A Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families;                    Volume 24; Edition 4;                                                                                                         October, November and December 2013

Pages 28 and 29

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 –

The Diane Rheem Show on NPR ~

Religious Traditions And Challenges For Interfaith Families with Implications for Interchurch Families

Nearly a quarter of Americans attend religious services of more than one faith or denomination. More than one-third are now married to a person of a different religion. As American society becomes more open and tolerant of diversity, a growing number of interfaith couples are raising children in both religions. They say this encourages open-mindedness and gives extended family equal weight. But others caution that these mixed-marriages can be strained by conflict over religious practices and are more prone to divorce. As the holiday season approaches, a look at the growing trend of interfaith marriage and what it means for family life.


      • Alan Cooperman deputy director, Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.
      • Susan Katz Miller journalist, former reporter for Newsweek and author of “Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family.”
      • Naomi Schafer Riley former editor, The Wall Street Journal and author of “‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America.”

Related Links                                 

 “Interfaith Unions: A Mixed Blessing” by Naomi Schaefer Riley (NYTimes Op-Ed)

“The Case for Raising Your Child with Two Religions” by Susan Katz Miller (TIME)

Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life

Related Items

Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family

‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America

Source                  (Please listen to this program on line. ARK readers would like to hear your stories about your own lived experience of being interchurch.)

Implications for Interchurch Families and Ecumenists:

In this segment from the Diane Rheem radio program, we are cautioned not to generalize, but to ask people what their actual beliefs may be. I would encourage you to listen to this segment online now and to read the comments, some of which are helpful and others which show the complete unawareness that some people still have regarding what it is like to marry across traditional religious divides. We see great potential in interchurch families and the need for their proper pastoral care especially at this point in history.

Raising interfaith children is compared to raising bi-lingual children. Will those children be confused? Callers who have been raised in an interfaith family see themselves as peace makers and bridge builders. We have observed that the children raised in two church traditions can flow from one to the other and explain the customs and rules with greater understanding and clarity than many clergy simply because they have lived as interchurch.

Callers to the radio program indicate that religious beliefs didn’t factor into being problematic for their families. How money is spent did factor in as a problem? We have discussed this in the past. Tithing to two church denominations can be a real problem. This becomes especially highlighted when the mother may be staying at home with children and has no income of her own, but who wishes to continue to be faithful in her religious tradition of her family of origin.

One of the guests noted that our religious beliefs are maliable and that they evolve over our life time.

Learning about the religious tradition and beliefs of the spouse’s religion seems to be an essential component for the success of interfaith families/couples.

The challenges facing interfaith families is a bit different from those that interchurch families must face.

It is acknowledged that when couples marry across historic religious divisions that the couples usually first get to know each other before the topic of religion is even addressed.  Often the couple is already attached and committed to each other before their personal faith traditions even enter into their own discussions; this was pointed out on the radio program.

It would seem then that remote marriage preparation is imperative; the fact  that interchurch/interfaith marriages happen and are happening at what may be an increasing rate in the USA should be a topic that is considered by faith communities so that those communities may be pastorally supportive of interchurch/interfaith couples. On the radio program, it was pointed out that interfaith/interchurch couples can manage their own domestic church and personal spirituality within their home quite well. The problems may arise when the interchurch/interfaith couple tries to become part of their denomination of origin, but as an interchurch/interfaith couple in this newly formed interchurch/interfaith marriage. They have found that the churches haven’t yet caught up so that they can be pastorally helpful to them at one of the most crucial and important phases of their lives.

When the couple encounters two non-supportive communities, what realistic choices do potential interchurch couples face at that point? Have the churches failed them at the point in their lives when they most need pastoral care?

The choices that we have observed is that some couples simply drop out  from being affiliated to any denomination at all because it just seems so much simpler for them. This may seem to be the preferred option at this time.  Others may choose a neutral church or what may seem to be a neutral church for them as a couple so that they can worship together as a family.

Some couples choose to convert. The conversion rates seem to be 50-50 as to which denomination will be the choice for conversion.

We have also observed that in some cases these conversions are in name only to please a spouse and their family who believe that the conversion is essential.

Some couples try to become what is known as interchurch. Each spouse remains active in their own tradition. Many couples indicate the pain they feel when their spouse is rejected  by their own church. This mostly occurs around the sharing of communion. Not all churches allow non-members to have communion; it feels like a rejection and to be an act that is inhospitable. It seems to affect the member spouse the most when they see their spouse being rejected by their own church.

Some interchurch couples have observed that because the religious practices are different in the other spouse’s family that this may give the impression that the other family isn’t as religious. Being different doesn’t mean being less. This is a topic that needs to be explored further. One Protestant pastor told us that she simply tells the young couple who is coming in for marriage preparation that they should select the religion of the more devout parent in which to raise their future children; this is horrible advice because it then sets up a great debate where none should exist and prevents the couple from exploring the potential of being interchurch. Couples, all couples, need to be equal partners if the marriage is to be a healthy relationship.

In the radio program, it was brought up that interfaith/interchurch marriages are on the rise and will continue to be a predominant factor in the religious landscape in the USA well into the future. It would seem then that it would be in the best interest of our American religious institutions that they seek the best practices for the proper pastoral care of interchurch/interfaith families.

As  a spouse in an interchurch marriage of 40 years, I can assure you that the pastoral care of interchurch families has yet to be considered adequately. Any difficulties that we may have encountered 40 years ago when we chose to marry seem to still exist or to have increased which seems strange to us. Remote marriage preparation, for the church community, is needed that takes into consideration how the community should support the married couple.

The churches shouldn’t become the thorn in the side of the interchurch couple but the pastoral care givers and support for the gifts that these couples may have so that their gifts as peacemakers and bridge builders can be nurtured by both denominations of origin. The problem isn’t that two people love each other across what has been a great historic division, but that the churches haven’t reached out to support these interchurch couples so that the newly formed family can reach their full potential as the peace makers and bridge builders which we believe that God has required of us by God’s role in bringing us together to become one interchurch family.

~ M.J. Glauber






The advertisements that may appear on this page are what gives “the ARK” access to this blog site. selects which advertisements may appear on this page.

Ecumenical Realities by Martin E. Marty

Ecumenical Realities

— Martin E. Marty

“Hopes for an ‘Ecumenical Spring’” was a Christian Century headline above a report by Adelle M. Banks of the Religion News Service. Her report spelled out why such hopes are wan, if not desperate. Three samples: The National Council of Churches has shrunk from 400 staffers in its prime to fewer than twenty today. Churches Uniting in Christ closed its office doors in 2010 and has lost one of its major denominations. Christian Churches Together has “struggled.” Monitor and assess the news of the separate church bodies and you will find few folks mourning or, indeed, “planting” so there can be some sprouts in an “ecumenical spring.” Do people in parishes know of the declines and demises? Would they care, if they did know? If so, what should they do?

The modern ecumenical organizing began just over a century ago, in a very different world. The councils and federations and conferences served well for decades. Ecumenism was “the great new fact of the era,” according to wise Archbishop William Temple, half an era ago. Let me touch on various assessments of why so much has changed, beginning with the denominations or church bodies which made and make up the ecumenical bodies (whose smaller staffs usually include able and faithful people.)

For me, a central reason was illustrated in the press room at the Faith and Order (sub-WCC) meeting at Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1960, when I first got up close to ecumenical doings. I tell the story often: The participants were defining Christian unity: “all in each place who confess Christ Jesus as Lord. . . [should come to] a fully committed fellowship.” The errant typist gave us in the press a draft-release that said we were “to come to a full committee fellowship.” Ecumenism seemed to be the task of bureaus, task forces, commissions, but it was grasped heartily by most of the faithful.

The offense caused by denominational hostility is less relevant today, when denominations get along fairly well; the destructive conflict today is within the communions. Catholics do not fight Methodists any more; Catholics are in conflict with Catholics, [“United”] Methodists fight Methodists. Homework is needed desperately.

The drama of separation, suspicion, and conflict shifted when energies were transferred from within Christianity to Christianity in its relation to other faiths. Many Christians yawn when [if?] they hear of tensions among South Asian or South African Christian churches, while the urgent scene now faces Muslims against Christians, Christians against Jews. “Interfaith” ventures are more promising than “Ecumenical” ones.

Note: much has been achieved, as ecumenical programs are on a new plateau and are taken for granted. Some leaders in the ecumenical church bodies, scorned now for their moderation when their cutting edges are dulled, urge members to look again. A friend asks “What are Christians in mainline and moderate and (gulp!) liberal styles griping about. They won!” Christians to their right often came out of their isolation in ways influenced by ecumenical experiments. As those who stood off adapt to “modernity,” they adopt approaches practiced by ecumenical pioneers through a century.

Sociological analysis and historical reviews should not soothe anyone, say the profoundly committed ecumenists. The Gospel and other New Testament scenarios consistently keep promises of Christian unity and commands to realize those promises in the minds and programs of Christians of all sorts. They simply cannot pretend their way back into cultures of 1910 or 1960 and proceed from there. Who’s “planting” for spring?


Frank Newport, “Mississippi Is Most Religious U.S. State: Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious states,” Gallup, March 27, 2012.©

Adelle M. Banks, “Hopes for an ‘Ecumenical Spring’,” Christian Century, March 15, 2012.

© 2012 The Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago; reprinted with permission       

Featured in The ARK, A Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families May 2012, Volume 23, Edition 5

Working Together as Christians at Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2014

Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2014 ☞ “Resisting Violence, Building Peace” God’s Vision For Our World

The ARK, A Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families; Volume 24; Edition 4; October, November and December 2013

Pages 24 – 25 … Save the Dates for the Ecumenical Advocacy Days

Save the dates for the


Ecumenical Advocacy Days


Come to the 12th annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days and join hundreds of other Christians in Resisting Violence, Building Peace.” Guided by the image of Jesus weeping over a capital city that turned from the true way of peace (Luke 19:41-42), we will expose the violence that pervades our culture and world: THEME: Jesus Weeps – Resisting Violence, Building Peace

THEME BACKGROUND for 2014 Ecumenical Advocacy Days

Today we too weep over the culture of violence that impacts our cities, our nations and families, which too often turn from ways of peace.

Violence in its various manifestations impacts our lives in direct and indirect ways.

Around the world, families are forced from their homes; they cower from bombs and dodge land-mines.

Official government policies maintain interrogation practices that amount to torture, wars rage around the world, and weapons manufacturing is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Millions endure abuse at the hands of those whom they expect to trust, and many are traded for labor and sex as if they are simply commodities. Lenient gun rules allow horrific massacres to occur on a shockingly regular basis and policy makers lack the political will to change course.

Economic systems perpetuate cycles of poverty and disempowerment that prove violent to the human condition, and ecological systems are threatened and destroyed for the sake of monetary profit and temporary human comfort.

Our culture and media is saturated with images and stories of violence.

If we look at the statistics, we indeed have ample cause to weep:

• Nearly 3,000 children in the U.S. killed by guns each year;

• A quarter of U.S. women experiencing domestic abuse at some point in their lives;

• A decade of war, nearly 1,000 civilians killed by drones, and Pentagon spending dominating our federal budget over poverty protections, healthy job creation, economic revitalization and true international human security;

• More than 45 million refugees worldwide uprooted from their homes by persecution and armed conflict; and

• Deadly conflicts over natural resources erupting around the world.

Despite the many examples of violence in our world, as people of hope we are consoled by the promise that “justice and peace shall embrace” (Psalm 85:10). This embrace is demonstration that without peace justice is illusory and without justice peace is deceptive. This image is the embodiment of God’s vision for our world- God’s shalom.

Shalom is often translated as “peace,” but its Hebrew roots imply a deeper meaning of peace that goes beyond cessation of violence toward a holistic vision of true security, healing, and restoration involving all areas of social and economic life. It is this vision of “peace with justice,” or “Just Peace” which many of our religious traditions have embraced and continue to strive toward.

The image of an “embrace” in the Psalm also reminds us that our hope is not passive, but active. As people of faith we are called to join with God in this active work and are reminded that justice requires peace-making and that peace requires justice-making. Many of our congregations already work for justice by serving those in need, embracing the stranger, advocating for equality and just economic systems. Others are active in peacemaking efforts and conflict transformation, challenging the violence of domestic abuse and gun violence, reforming the unjust prison system, or working for U.S. foreign policy that will aid peace in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, or Latin America. All of these efforts are needed and together we must explore the relationship between working for justice and building peace. Throughout the conference, the relationship between justice and peace will be explored in four areas:

• Peace in the Community– So that all may live free from fear (Micah 4:4)

• Peace with the Earth – So that life is sustained

• Peace in the Marketplace– So that all may live with dignity

• Peace among the Peoples – So that human lives are protected*

Through prayer, worship, speakers, workshops and advocacy training we will discover a faith-based vision for national policies that will “guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:79). This “Path of Peace,” much like the life of John the Baptist referenced in the context of this passage, will require us to embrace a path not only of personal transformation, repentance, and forgiveness – but a vision for how these principles can take root in the social and political realities of our world. Like John, we are called to preach (through words and action) that vision of repentance, and prepare the way for God’s reign of justice and true peace to enter our world. As the Body of Christ today, we will take these messages of love, repentance, and hope with us as we go to Capitol Hill on Monday’s Lobby Day to call for change in public policy and together lift up a holistic vision of a more just and peaceful world.   *This formulation is from the World Council of Churches’ “Ecumenical Call to Just Peace” issued prior to its International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011.                                 

 End of Pages 24 – 25 … Save the Dates for the Ecumenical Advocacy Days
The ARK, A Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families; Volume 24; Edition 4; October, November and December 2013

A Report About the 2013 National Workshop on Christian Unity by Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS

This concept was born in a barn thousands of years ago

This concept was born in a barn; photo by M.J. Glauber

This concept was born in a barn; photo by M.J. Glauber©

The ARK, A Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families

Volume 24; Edition 4

October, November and December 2013

Page 23-24 ……..The Ecumenical Corner: Fr. Ernest Falardeau, SSS

                            Report on the National Workshop on Christian Unity 2013

Page 24 ……… Save the date for the 2014 NWCU

The Ecumenical Corner: Fr. Ernest Falardeau, SSS  (July 2013)      

Report on the National Workshop on Christian Unity 2013

This year’s National Workshop on Christian Unity, an annual meeting of networks of ecumenical representatives from Catholic and Protestant dioceses, was held from Monday, April 8-11 in Columbus, Ohio. These workshops began shortly after the Second Vatican Council and continue to update those responsible for promoting the unity of Christians at the state and local levels. The National Council of Churches and directors of agencies from across the country are participants, as well as bishops and others  responsible for continuing progress work toward the goal of visible unity.

This year’s workshop again explored the impact of the Second Vatican Council on the Catholic Church and other Christian churches. The keynote speaker for the Tuesday morning Plenary Session, Dr. Karen Westerfield Tucker (United Methodist) explained the impact of the document on Liturgy (Sacrum Concilium) on the Catholic Church and on Protestant communions, and developments since the Council. She stressed the influence of Vatican II and the Liturgical Movement on all Christian churches of the West.

Eucharistic Liturgies

A special feature this year was the Eucharistic Liturgy. For the first time all the participants were encouraged to attend the same Eucharistic Liturgy together. On Tuesday evening the Catholic Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph’s Church and on Wednesday evening an Episcopal Eucharistic Liturgy was celebrated at Trinity Episcopal Church. In the early years of the National Workshop on Christian Unity, each church had its own Eucharistic celebration, usually early in the morning. Having everyone attend the same Liturgy showed visibly the growing unity of the churches. Abbé Couturier, the founder of the Groupe des Dombes near Lyon, France in the late 1930’s, was convinced that such sharing of prayer together with  other Christians, with due regard for church rules, would give visibility to the unity we seek and strengthen our efforts to promote the unity Jesus Christ desires.

Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS.                                                                                                (reprinted with permission)



Save the Dates for the NWCU

April 28 to May 1, 2014

2014 Workshop in

Albuquerque, New Mexico

at the Hyatt Regency – Albuquerque   


The ARK, A Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families

Volume 24; Edition 4

October, November and December 2013

End of

Page 23-24 ……..The Ecumenical Corner: Fr. Ernest Falardeau, SSS

                            Report on the National Workshop on Christian Unity 2013

Page 24 ………     Save the date for the 2014 NWCU


via A Report About the 2013 National Workshop on Christian Unity by Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS.

a rose; photo by M.J. Glauber

a rose; photo by M.J. Glauber©

Considering How To Be Centered On That of God

Shared Respect; Mutual Respect

The ARK, a Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families

Volume 24; Edition 4

October, November and December 2013

Page 23 ……….. Considering How To Be Centered On That of God                                                          by The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Choctaw

Considering How To Be Centered On That of God

“Extremism is a centrifugal force. It constantly seeks to draw what is in the center out toward the edges. It pulls societies, communities, apart.  It divides through the pressure of fear. It seduces through suspicion.

Love is a gravitational force. It holds the center together.

Even in the fast spin of change and diversity, it keeps community possible.

It unifies opposites. It works through shared respect.

The physics of faith is at work around us each day.

We can be pulled to the edges or we can hold the center.”

~ The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston,Choctaw

The ARK, a Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families

Volume 24; Edition 4

October, November and December 2013

Page 23 ……….. Considering How To Be Centered On That of God                                                          by The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Choctaw

Interchurch Couple Celebrate their 75th Wedding Anniversary

Chalice and Paten; Early Christian Artifacts being preserved at the Cloisters in NYC; photo by M.J. Glauber

Chalice and Paten; Early Christian Artifacts being preserved at the Cloisters in NYC; photo by M.J. Glauber ©

Interchurch Couple Celebrates their 75th Wedding Anniversary

The ARK, a Publication of the American Association of Interchurch Families

Volume 24; Edition 4

October, November and December 2013

Pages 26-27…..  Interchurch Couple to mark 75 years of marriage by Marnie McAllister

Reprinted in the ARK with Permission from Marnie McAllister and “The Record”

Couple to mark 75 years of marriage

Posted by The Record on September 26, 2013 in Archdiocesan News

By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor

Cecil and Mary Irene Semones reminisced about their 75 years of marrriage in their Springhurst home Sept. 23. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

Mary Irene and Cecil Semones have encountered tremendous challenges during more than 75 years together. They weathered the flood of 1937, World War II and the death of a child.

They are among about 150 couples being honored by the Archdiocese of Louisville for milestone wedding anniversaries this year. The archdiocese holds a special annual Mass to honor couples marking 30, 40, 50 and 60 or more years of marriage. This year’s celebration is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, at the Cathedral of the Assumption. The Semones were married nearly 75 years ago on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, 1938, in the vestibule of the old St. George Church. Both were 20 years old and prepared to face life together, come what may.

By that time, they had already experienced the Great Flood of 1937 together. Their families lived on the same street in West Louisville and were shuffled to various shelters together during the 10-day evacuation, Irene Semones, the former Mary Irene Bartley, recalled during an interview at their home on Sept. 23.

“I kind of enjoyed it,” she said, smiling at her husband. “He was with me.”  Cecil Semones, who was less gregarious than his wife during the interview, noted, “I could reach over and grab her hand from the cot I was lying on.”

They were quick to add that their families were close at hand, too.

The couple no longer clearly remember the things so often romanticized in films — the first date, the proposal, or even why they liked each other to begin with. They’ve made a 75-year marriage a good one by respecting each other, they said.

Respect is especially important, they noted, because she is Catholic and he is Baptist. Both have faithfully practiced their own traditions these 75 years.

“We respect each other and we respect each other’s churches,” said Cecil Semones. “I’m sure there was some stress, but we overlooked it. “When we were married, the priest asked me to promise not to break (his wife’s) relationship with the church,” he noted. “I promised, which was kind of lonely for me. But I kept my promise.”

They started a family soon after their wedding but lost their first child, a son they named Donnie, when he was just eight months old. When their second son, Jerry, was eight months old, Cecil Semones was drafted into the Army. He served in Europe during World War II as a company clerk in the 397th Infantry Division.

“We had 194 men,” he said he recalls. “I was eight to 20 miles from the front lines (during most of the war). Our company was in three battles.” During the war, Irene Semones lived in a second floor apartment with her baby Jerry and a photo of her husband. When he returned after three years at war, his son was, by then, a toddler. “He didn’t remember his dad when he came home,” Irene Semones recalled. “He said, ‘That’s not my dad; there’s my dad.’ And he pointed at the picture.”

The couple sent their children, Donna and Jerry, to Catholic schools. Cecil Semones attended Baptist services while his family attended Mass each Sunday.

Later in life, when the children were grown and Mr. Semones’ eyesight began to deteriorate, Mrs. Semones drove the car and together they attended her church, St. Margaret Mary, on Saturday evenings. Then they attended services at Westport Road Baptist Church together on Sundays. Now neither drives, but they watch Mass of the Air and a Baptist service on Sundays.

Their early years, especially the war years, were lonely and stressful times, Irene Semones said. But now they’re part of a lifetime of memories that serve as examples to their children and 14 grandchildren.

“Dad was a very good provider and always took care of his family first. And she was a very good mom. They were really a team I think,” said Jerry Semones, who celebrated his 48th wedding anniversary on Sept. 11. He and his wife, Marita, are members of St. Gabriel Church. “I’ve always been impressed by the longevity of their marriage. They’ve presented the example that it’s something you have to work through.”

“They are great role models for us,” said Donna Weber, who married her husband Steve more than 42 years ago. They are members of St. Patrick Church. Donna Webber and her brother said that religion — and the differences in their parents’ religion — always interested them.

“I used to love talking religion around the table,” she noted. “It gave me a different perspective on religion. I remember Dad telling us, you don’t have to agree with another person’s religion, but you have to respect them.”

Irene and Cecil Semones said they never considered the difference in their religions a substantial stumbling block.  “Our religion is quite a bit alike,” said Irene Semones, matter-of-factly. “We believe in Jesus Christ, that he died on a cross for our sins.”

Implications for Interchurch Families:

Here is the lived example of one interchurch family and of a married couple who have lived as an interchurch couple for 72 years. Many marriages in the USA end in divorce. Also, today couples are also opting simply not to marry, but to co-habitate and raise children. Then we have this lived example of a deeply spiritual interchurch family that emphasized the concept of respect for other people’s religion and religious beliefs. The key word that we may all take from their lived example is “Respect” because that seems to have been a foundational building block for a successful interchurch marriage.   ~ M.J. Glauber

End of Pages 26-27…..  Interchurch Couple to mark 75 years of marriage by Marnie McAllister

The AAIF 2010 Biennial Conference at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Wisconsin; photo by Dave Natella