50 years of marriage, a lifetime of faith
By Elisabeth Smith
Among the parishioners of the Diocese of Greensburg, two couples have an especially joyous reason to celebrate.
Dr. Francisco and Rosalinda Castillo and Kenneth and Kathleen Proch both celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries in 2021. With their milestones comes a wealth of wisdom about family and faith.
Both couples, who were honored at the annual Diocesan Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass in September, recall what brought them together and reveal the shared beliefs that kept them committed
for five decades.
Francisco and Rosalinda Castillo
It was the late 1960s in Manila, Philippines when Rosalinda and Francisco (pictured above) were asked to be part of a cotillion, an 18th birthday celebration,
for a shared friend.
“The rest was history,” Rosalinda joked.
Once they became a couple, Francisco studied medicine at the University of St. Thomas, while Rosalinda was majoring in nutrition to become a dietician. They were married Dec. 26, 1971, as the sun rose at 7 a.m., which the couple says is customary in the Philippines.
“That’s how you want to begin your life together, at the beginning of the day,” Rosalinda explained.
The couple arrived in Pennsylvania a year later, following in the footsteps of Francisco’s older brother and “idol,” a radiologist. Francisco finished his studies here, and the couple started a family. They have two children, Michael and Michelle, and five granddaughters, ages 14, 11, 10 and 12-year-old twins.
They say respect, forgiveness and finding true love are important facets of a long-lasting marriage. But they agree that the Catholic faith they were raised in from childhood is the foundation that allowed them to reach the half-century milestone.
“We are both deeply religious, and my wife’s faith is especially strong,” Francisco said. “Her faith has especially strengthened our marriage, and we never forgot how our parents taught us to be devout Catholics. It is still in our hearts and minds.”
Rosalinda adds that the couple tried, as their parents did, to pass on that gift of faith to their own children and grandchildren.
“When Michelle went off to Loyola University Maryland and Michael to Allegheny College, they would always make fun of me because every weekend I would ask them ‘Did you go to church?’ There was never a weekend I didn’t ask,” she said. “I want my children and grandchildren to share our faith and always tell them that no matter what happens, God is always with you, and He will be your No. 1. He is always there, loving you and guiding you.”
Kenneth and Kathleen Proch
When Kenneth was a senior at Indiana Area High School, junior Kathleen “noticed him.”
“Apparently he noticed me too,” Kathleen joked.
While the pair knew each other casually, they didn’t fall in love until after graduation when Kenneth began serving in the military. Kathleen started writing letters to him, and their romance blossomed through the pages.
The couple became engaged before Kenneth deployed to Vietnam, where he served for a year. After he returned home, the Prochs married on June 26, 1971, in Texas, where they briefly lived before moving back to Indiana. Kathleen says they were “blessed with a beautiful family” — children Ken Jr., Kathleen, Tricia and John, along with their 11 grandchildren ages 2 to 25.
The entire family celebrated Kenneth and Kathleen’s golden anniversary the night before their wedding date with a Mass that included a blessing of their rings by Capuchin Father Tage Danielson at their parish, St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, Indiana. The Mass was followed the next day by a brunch and reception.
The Prochs agree that their Catholic faith is “everything” in their marriage, with Kenneth adding that their beliefs keep them rooted. Kathleen points especially to her family’s tradition of regularly praying the rosary.
“Our parents were Catholics and very strong Christians, and when I was a kid we said the rosary all the time,” she said.
Kenneth adds that he often would arrive at Kathleen’s house and feel compelled to join her family in this special prayer given to us by the Virgin Mary.
“When I came in, I knew I had to kneel down and say the rosary,” he said with a laugh.
Today, the family continues this tradition, often meeting at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish for the weekly rosary prayers at the shrine.
“There are so many times you turn to God,” Kathleen said. “There are ups and downs, like anything in life, but our faith and family are our focus.”