Nearly 200 couples from across Southern Arizona gathered Sunday for a special Mass to celebrate their wedding anniversaries and renew the vows that joined them in marriage.

Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson presided over the seventh annual Marriage Anniversary Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral.

A total of 182 couples celebrated one, 10, 25, 50 or 60- plus years of matrimony.

They came from parishes throughout the area, including Tucson, Benson, Sierra Vista, Nogales, Safford and Casa Grande.

Some couples brought their adult children, and others cradled infants.

The longest-married couple said their “I do’s” 70 years ago.

Kicanas asked the couples during Mass what made marriage great, what advice older couples had for the “novices” and how to sustain a marriage for decades.

Newbies said they valued having the support of their spouse and looked forward to going through the journey of life with their best friend.

Learning to forgive and not giving up were among the words of wisdom offered by the marriage veterans.

The couples recited traditional wedding vows and then sealed their commitments with a kiss.

After the service, the couples were invited to a reception in the church hall.

Here are some of the couples who took part in the Mass:

Philip, Lucia Montaño

Married: 70 years.

Ages: He’s 90. She’s 85.

How they met: The couple grew up together in the small town of San Pedro, N.M.

The proposal: “My parents were very strict,” she said. They weren’t allowed to go on dates and only saw each other a few times at dances. “He just said, ‘you wanna marry me?’ and I said, ‘yes,’ and we got married,” she said.

Their thoughts on how to make a marriage last: “Love each other, have lots of faith, patience and don’t go to bed angry, always try to resolve your problems,” she said. “He’s the one,” he said pointing his finger upward.

Charles and Barbara Stough

Married: 60 years.

Ages: He’s 82. She’s 78.

How they met: The pair were high school sweethearts while attending Amphitheater High School.

The proposal: At the senior prom he gave her an engagement ring.

Their thoughts on how to make a marriage last: “Never go to bed angry and always kiss good night,” she said. “Just be honest with your wife,” he added.

Antony and Sarah Abraham

Married: 50 years.

Ages: He’s 74. She’s 73.

How they met: They met through mutual friends during Freshman Week at the University of Arizona, where he studied mechanical engineering and she studied interior design.

The proposal: “He had a job in California after college, and he would come visit me once a month,” she said. “He was in the shower and said, ‘come here a minute.’ He peeked his head out the door and asked, ‘will you marry me?’”

Their thoughts on how to make a marriage last: “It’s a give and take, always put the family first,” she said. “Patience. Don’t argue with her, whatever you do.”

Joe and Ruth Tartaglia

Married: One year through the church, but 15 years total.

Ages: He’s 54. She’s 51.

How they met: The two attended church together at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish. “I saw her in church and I knew right away that she was my love,” he said.

The proposal: He first asked her to marry him in the parking lot of a Walmart, not long after they started dating. And he never stopped. “It’s not that I said ‘no,’” she said. He’d re-ask the question about once a week she recalled. But, the most important proposal came during Thanksgiving in front of family.

Their thoughts on how to make a marriage last: “Continue in faith and prayer and unity with each other all the time,” she said. “God first and respect each other and love each other,” he said.

Contact reporter Veronica M. Cruz at or 573-4224.