Above, Joseph and Stella Sheleheda renew their wedding vows at a Mass for jubilarian couples at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on June 8. The Shelehedas were one of three couples celebrating their 70th marriage anniversary at the Mass.  Below  Archbishop Wuerl, the principal celebrant of the Mass, speaks to couples during  the homily.
Above, Joseph and Stella Sheleheda renew their wedding vows at a Mass for jubilarian couples at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on June 8. The Shelehedas were one of three couples celebrating their 70th marriage anniversary at the Mass. Below Archbishop Wuerl, the principal celebrant of the Mass, speaks to couples during the homily.
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Jim and Martha Verme met each other doing the dishes.

"I started doing the dishes, and he said, 'Can I dry these for you?'" she said, smiling.

"That did it," Jim Verme said.

Fifty years of married life later, the Vermes are still doing the dishes together.

"He takes wonderful care of me," said Martha Verme, a parishioner at St. Raphael's Parish in Rockville, who attended the jubilarian Mass for married couples at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on June 8.

Nearly 480 other jubilarian couples attended the annual Mass celebrated by Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl. During the ceremony, couples renewed their marriage vows and the archbishop blessed their wedding rings.

Every year, the archbishop said, he draws inspiration from this celebration.

"I have a collection of stories," he said.

He has asked several of the jubilarian couples what the "secret" to their success is. "I get all kinds of answers back," he said.

A couple married 50 years told the archbishop that spouses must never go a day without saying I'm sorry if they need to.

"And he (the husband) said, 'I'm the one who always needs to,'" the archbishop said.

Another couple told Archbishop Wuerl they must make the time to pray together and remember that God is part of their married life.

One man told the archbishop he learned his wife "was always right.'"

But, what really kept these couples together was "much more basic," the archbishop said. It is "profound and enduring human love," he said. "Each couple here represents... enduring married love and... the recognition of the grace of the sacrament that makes that possible."

The archbishop used the National Shrine's many mosaics to describe God's master plan for marriage.

"No matter where you are seated you can see the glorious mosaics... of some sacred scene... every one of these is a mosaic made of millions of pieces of glass," he said. "Now how do you think these masterpieces came to be? Somebody had to have a master plan."

In God's plan for marriage "He asks that love be reflective of His love," he said.

The archbishop then thanked the couples for being witnesses of "enduring human love."

The jubilarian couples prove "Not only is it (marriage) possible, but it is wonderful... and holy," he said.

Eileen and Walter Seglem, parishioners of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Gaithersburg, said they can hardly believe they have achieved 50 years of marriage.

In the infancy of their marriages, people "wing it," without God, Eileen Seglem said. "But after you realize God is part of the marriage... you just say thank you God for what You have given us."

Walter Seglem, who met Eileen at a work party, said in marriage, spouses must "help each other as a team."

"You will never find the perfect wife, and if she was perfect, she would drive you crazy," he said.

Rodolfo and Rubina Mason, a jubilarian couple of 30 years, said communication and prayer are the cornerstones of their marriage.

"Never get off your knees," Rubina Mason said, adding that every night she and her husband pray together.

Quinton and Blanche Fiora, who have been married twice as long as the Mason's and are celebrating their 60th anniversary, also believe prayer is the backbone of a healthy marriage. They attend Mass together at St. Aloysius Parish in Leonardtown every Sunday.

Quinton Fiora, who leisurely strode down the basilica aisle with his wife on his arm, said after five children they have "weathered it all."

"I learned to say 'yes dear,'" he said with a chuckle.