Masses to honor 50th and 25th wedding anniversaries

September 14, 2021

Two wedding rings are shown intertwined in a stained glass window at St. Anne Catholic Church in Houston. Two upcoming Masses, celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, will honor the 50th and 25th wedding anniversaries of couples from around the Archdiocese. (File photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — If there is any question on whether single young adults church groups create solid marriages, Frances and Dennis Jasek, with their 50-year wedding anniversary, are living proof.

Starting off as friends when they met at St. Anne’s Catholic Church singles group on Westheimer, Dennis said he was impressed by Frances’s volleyball skills and “her beautiful brown eyes.”

She said his soft-spoken and compassionate nature drew her closer. Coming from the small farming community of Moulton, Dennis moved to Houston to attend what was then South Texas College in 1968 and now the University of Houston-Downtown.

Frances said, “I was a working girl as a secretary downtown, so we met for lunch, and from there, our love grew.”

Because of Frances’s traditional Sicilian upbringing, Dennis first asked her father for permission to marry his daughter before proposing to her at dinner. They married on June 27, 1971, at St. Ambrose Catholic Church.

After moving to Huntsville, he continued his education at Sam Houston State University in marketing while she became secretary to County Judge Amos Gates. The Jaseks said they are blessed with two daughters and now four grandchildren.

They hope most of the family will be able to attend the Sept. 26 Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo for the 50th Wedding Anniversary Jubilee.

With the ups and downs of most marriages, Frances said she is now eight years cancer-free after battling breast cancer with radiation.

“Dennis was very caring and compassionate with me, the same attributes that first attracted me to him. Now with God’s help, we’re here together,” she said.
Dennis carries on that compassion at his part-time job at Klein Funeral Home after retiring from CenterPoint with 43 years in procurement.

Now active members of Prince of Peace Catholic Church, the couple recommends those younger who are considering marriage to pray together and attend church together.

“It’s important to have similar moral standards and expectations. Calm and patient two-way communication helps to make a good marriage even better,” Dennis said.

Compared to being in Texas most of one’s life together, Deacon Alfonso and Florida Chicas met in 1969 at City Hall in San Salvador.

Alfonso said when he glanced up from a meeting in the office and saw Florida standing at the doorway with a letter of recommendation in hand looking for a job, “it was love at first sight” for him.

For her, it took a bit more convincing. “He was always so nice to me and talking with me,” she said.

A few months later, after she had broken up with a boyfriend she had at the time, Alfonso and Florida attended a party with their work colleagues and got to know each other better.

“I told him that I already had plans to go to the United States,” she said.

“And I prayed to God, saying I did not have the right to block her, but to please help me decide what to do,” he said.

So in January 1970, with visa in hand, she flew to New Jersey where she had friends and lined up a job that she worked for a year and a half.

“He wrote me letters every day,” she said.

Chicas waited for her to return and visited her family accompanied by his godfather, who was the priest of the area cathedral. They were suitably impressed with the priest’s recommendation and requested for permission for Alfonso to marry their daughter.

So the couple married on Nov. 20, 1971, at the San Jose de la Montana Catholic Church in San Salvador. They came together to the United States, where he was ordained a deacon with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in 2011 for St. James Catholic Church and is now retired at 74.

They were blessed with five children, but the sudden death of their 36-year-old daughter was one of the most difficult tragedies for the couple.

“She had a terrible headache and drove to our house with her two children, a boy and girl, who were only three and four years old at the time,” Florida said.

“She was always the happy one, the smiling one and healthy, but it was a brain aneurysm. She made it to our driveway and collapsed in my arms,” the mother said, her voice still cracking.

They are helping to raise their two grandchildren, now 9 and 10 years old, who live with them and attend Catholic school in Spring.

“Keep praying and sharing your living faith,” Alfonso said of how they survived such difficulties. “Primero Dios, God first.”

Florida added, “Love each other and your children. Be good examples.”

After attending the 50th Wedding Anniversary Jubilee Mass at the Co-Cathedral Sept. 26, they also plan to fly back to San Salvador to commemorate their anniversary.
“We are going to celebrate with Mass at the same church, on the same date and same time,” she said.

In reviewing their half-century together, Alfonso said, “We don’t count years; we count experiences together.”

The Archdiocese’s Family Life Ministry is organizing both the 50th wedding anniversary Sept. 26 and the 25th wedding anniversary Oct. 24.

The cost is $25 per couple, and once registered online at www.archgh.org/weddingjubilee, a copy of the wedding certificate is needed. Couples will be provided with an Archdiocesan certificate of their anniversary, a special issue worship aid with vows and a commemorative pin.