Thomas Ora, Dili – The church in Timor-Leste honored long-married couples on Pentecost Sunday with a reminder that strong Christian families are built upon prayer, good communication, fidelity and love, not through verbal or physical abuse.
"Spouses are the role model in family and society and they must always articulate the promises they made when they received the Sacrament of Matrimony," said Bishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili during May 15 Mass in Dili's Immaculate Conception Cathedral. The Mass coincided with the International Day of Families.
During the Mass, some 20 couples, 10 married for 25 years and 10 for 50 years, were honored for their faith and fidelity to their families. The couples were selected by a committee led by First Lady Isabel da Costa Ferreira.
"We should follow their example," said Ferreira, wife to Timor-Leste President Taur Matan Ruak and mother of three children. "Always say thank you and sorry when you make a mistake. And face family issues and differences with a cool head, not through physical violence," she said.
Domestic violence remains an issue in Timor-Leste, according to data by the Timor-Leste Women's Communication Forum. The forum said that from 2007-2012 there were 956 cases reported.
Ferreira reminded young couples to start establishing good communication and harmony. "Avoid arrogance," she said.
Joao da Cruz, 89, and his wife Florinda, 79, who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, received a certificate of recognition from Ruak.
"This award is a symbol for my entire family, for our children and grandchildren," said da Cruz, who has eight children and "about 50 grandchildren."
"I hope young families stick to their marriage vows and be faithful to their spouses, in joy and sorrow," he said. "Stay closer through prayer. This will keep you united," said da Cruz.