By DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI
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Little is known about the third century St. Valentine, said the Rev. Marc Vicari of St. Cassian Roman Catholic Church in Montclair. “He was probably a Roman soldier. He was very supportive of other soldiers in the Roman army and helped them marry. He became the patron saint of couples in love,” Vicari said.
On Feb. 10, St. Cassian Church will be celebrating World Marriage Day, which is held the Sunday closest to St. Valentine’s Day and celebrates the foundation of family. The church is holding a Holy Mass and a dinner at its eighth year celebrating World Marriage Day, according to Vicari. The celebration was Vicari’s idea, something he brought with him when he came to the church in 2011.
“I was director of family-life ministries [there] and this was one of the things we do to support the Christian marriage,” he said.
Vicari said the importance of marriage deserves a celebratory holiday. “Jesus’s first miracle was making water into wine at the wedding at Cana in Galilee. So marriage was very important to him,” Vicari said.
World Marriage Day began in Baton Rouge, LA in 1981 and was first called “We Believe in Marriage Day.” In 1983, the name was changed to World Marriage Day. Ten years later, Pope John Paul II gave his blessings.
The symbol of World Marriage Day is a couple standing side by side holding a heart. The theme of the day is “Love one another,” one of the lessons given by Jesus in John 15:12 in the Bible, according to the website Worldwide Marriage Encounter at wwme.org/wpd-wmd.
World Marriage Day is always held on the second Sunday of February — so in 2016 it fell on the same day as Valentine’s Day. This year the church is holding the service on a Saturday evening.
All married couples are invited to the St. Valentine’s Day Evening of Blessings and Fellowship, where Vicari will bless the couples and their wedding rings in unison during the mass.
Vicari expects about 30 couples to be a part of the social evening. “People married less than a year to those married 50 years, all different demographics come,” he said.
Following the mass there will be a buffet dinner consisting of pasta and chicken. Parishioners usually bring their own bottle of wine.
The dinner is coordinated by Director of Evangelization Greg Hann. Church parishioners Michael Streit and his wife Cecilia, are the recurrent masters of ceremonies. A large television set will display wedding photographs of the couples who chose to share them, and the room will be decorated in a St. Valentine’s theme of red and white.
A DJ will provide music, and couples can dance, as well as play games such as “The Dating Game.”
Vicari said some people do get confused by the event. “This is a blessing, not a vow renewal. We don’t do that. We do it as a support to married couples. [We] pray for them and celebrate with them in a special way. A lot of prayers directed to married couples,” he said.
Next year St. Cassian’s Church will be celebrating 125 years, and this past October St. Cassian’s school celebrated its 65th anniversary. Vicari said this is the only St. Cassian church in the United States. Vicari is already eager and assisting with plans for the celebration.
St. Valentine’s Day Evening of Blessings and Fellowship
Saturday, Feb. 9, Holy Mass at 5:30 p.m.
St. Cassian Roman Catholic Church
187 Bellevue Ave.
Register at 973-744-285