The Sacrament of Marriage — a mystery?

By Brenda Hopf


Have you ever thought of marriage as a mystery? I am not talking about husbands and wives who scratch their heads in bewilderment because their spouse has some quirky habit or annoying personal trait that the other does not understand. What I’m asking is, do we understand the Sacrament of Marriage as being a mystery of our faith; a mystery to be entered into with an openness and desire to humbly choose to love that other person more and more each day?

Without a doubt, the vocation of marriage is a high calling; a choice to love; a commitment to God and to each other, not to be taken lightly. On July 18, 1953, in Saint Meinrad Archabbey Church, Marvin and Mary Faye (Brahm) Welp, vowed to enter into this beautiful mystery; not a mystery to be solved, but rather, one to be endlessly pursued. I asked them to share some thoughts on their never-ending choice to love God and one another every day for the past 70 years.

Marvin, 93 and Mary Faye, 88, met at a wedding reception at the Shady Inn in Saint Meinrad, Mary Faye’s hometown. After they were wed, they chose to live in Schnellville near Marvin’s parents. Marvin and Mary Faye worked tirelessly to provide for their family of nine children. Marvin worked on the farm by day; and in the evening, he sold monuments and insurance. This allowed Mary Faye to be a stay-at-home mom who, among many other things, canned produce from their garden and sewed clothes for their children. This heavy workload was not easy for them. Devotion to one another and total trust in God guided them and transformed the challenge of raising nine children into their greatest blessing, a blessing that today includes 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Over the years, their love of God and family - and the realization of the many, many blessings they have received - has helped make their faith grow even stronger, giving them courage and hope for the future. “Just as we did not know what the future held on the day we were married, neither do we know today what tomorrow holds. It is only through faith that we can move forward each day. Today, we are so grateful that we are of sound mind and that we can still be together,” Mary Faye said.

They shared that another key to reaching the milestone of 70 years of marriage was being members of a wonderful Catholic faith community that is always willing to offer prayers and lend a helping hand in times of need. As a life-long member of Sacred Heart Parish in Schnellville, now Divine Mercy Parish, I can attest to the deep faith of the people here. I not only witnessed Marvin and Mary Faye making the sacrifices to raise nine children, but also saw how they served the Catholic Church and community. Marvin sang in the choir, was a member of the Saint Vincent DePaul Society and Schnellville Conservation Club.  Mary Faye, a member of the Saint Anne Society, also took part in the activities of the Home Economics Club and quilting group. As long as they were able, they helped the community in any way they could through donations and their gifts of time and talent. Both were inducted into the Diocese of Evansville Bruté Society.

When I asked what they would like other married couples to know, they said, “Daily prayer is essential.”  For them, a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the rosary gives them comfort. Mary Faye also shared something she wrote that she has shared with their children over the years, “Marriage is like a beautiful rose garden. They do have thorns and they do stick pretty hard sometimes, and if you don’t work hard to water and keep the weeds out, the beautiful roses will die. The same goes with marriage.”

With much gratitude, I thank Marvin and Mary Faye for sharing their witness. May they be blessed abundantly as they unceasingly pursue the beautiful mystery of marriage through their never-ending choice to love God and one another.

Brenda Hopf is the RCIA Coordinator at Divine Mercy Parish.