FIFTY years almost to the hour of the wedding bells, John and Lorraine McNamara re-joined their bridal party and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on September 5.
Among their almost 50 guests, including family and friends, was Redcliffe parish priest Fr Bob Harwood, who gave a blessing to the anniversary couple.
“It was an excellent day, absolutely wonderful,” Mr McNamara said.
Mr and Mrs McNamara – both born in country Queensland – had met through their love of tennis and dated for five years before they were married in 1970.
Fr Michael McLure had been their celebrant and they wed at Holy Name Church, Too-woomba.
In the following years, John’s work took the couple all around Queensland from Toowoomba to Bundaberg and onward as far as Mount Isa.
Mrs McNamara said those years were a flurry of work, tennis and junior farmer dances.
They had raised three children and now have five grandchildren with one receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation just last week.
For one reason or another, the McNamaras always seemed to find themselves back around the Redcliffe Peninsula, where the couple now lived at Deception Bay.
But with lives spent travelling around Queensland, it was only natural for them to go farther in retirement, touring Australia in their campervan.
Western Australia had particularly called to them.
“The colours of the landscape with the rusty greens and white tree trunks – it’s fantastic,” Mr McNamara said.
“It’s got everything,” he said.
“It’s the remoteness of Western Australia that’s my attraction, being able to camp wherever you like … and beautiful rivers and creeks.”
Mrs McNamara said it was the outback that drew them, “being country people”.
“If we’re going to go anywhere, we’re going west,” she said.
But it had only been by a margin of days in the itinerary that the couple were even safely in Australia at all.
In January, Mr and Mrs McNamara had embarked with close friends on a trip to the Holy Land, as well as Egypt and Jordan.
Mrs McNamara said the Holy Land was “simply astonishing”.
She said the highlight for her was the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.
For Mr McNamara it was the Sea of Galilee.
“It’s where Christ spent much of his time and of course, most of his miracles were in that area,” he said.
“When you reflect back on it, you think to yourself – this person, he moved around a lot in three years and he didn’t have a plane and he didn’t have a cab and he didn’t have a car.
“How he got around in those three years and what he achieved in three years is just remarkable really.
“The land around there is just the land of milk and honey, it’s just beautiful.”
The couple returned back from their trip on February 26 after a short scare about re-entering because of international COVID-19 cases.
Mr McNamara’s pastoral care ministry at the hospital had to be put on hold because of coronavirus too.
His ministry had begun after he retired and found himself with a lot of time on his hands after decades sticking to work schedules.
He started to go to daily Mass and was soon told by Fr Peter Dillon and a fellow parishioner that there was a need for hospital chaplains.
That was 11 years ago.
“I’ve found it fulfilling in a lot of ways,” he said.
“I think it wells up all of your beliefs and strengthens you.”
He said it concreted everything he had always believed in and he had no doubts at all about the existence of God.
“I’ve seen it … I’ve seen it in the hospital and outside of hospital,” he said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Faith had been the bedrock of Mr and Mrs McNamara’s long and “rosy” marriage.
“We accomplish more together,” Mrs McNamara said.
“We lift each other up and keep going.”
She said praying together and going to Mass together was so important too.
They had some other tips for young married couples like eating meals at the table together, have good communication and patience, and to stick with each other through good and bad times.
And as for the next 50 years, the couple were looking forward to more family time, travel and the next anniversary.
Mr and Mrs McNamara would be attending the Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral on September 26.