Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Lena Pennino

2/29/2008 (6 years ago)

The Long Island Catholic (www.licatholic.org)

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (Long Island Catholic) - In a quiet church on Dec. 30, he knelt down and washed her feet. When he was done, he kissed each foot and then popped the question right there in the chapel at St. Gabriel’s Spiritual Center for Youth on Shelter Island.

COMMITMENT - August and Rita Ripp, both 92, got married when they were 23 years old and have been married more than 68 years.

COMMITMENT - August and Rita Ripp, both 92, got married when they were 23 years old and have been married more than 68 years.

Highlights

By Lena Pennino

The Long Island Catholic (www.licatholic.org)

2/29/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family



For Anthony Muhs, 23, and Stephanie Kerchinski, 23, it was their dream engagement. For years, Stephanie had imagined that her husband would wash her feet. For her, it was the sign of ultimate humility and service.

When she saw the pail of water that day, she knew what was coming. He did too. “I knew she would say, ‘yes,’” he said.

While it may seem odd to some that an engagement story included a foot washing, to this couple it symbolizes what their relationship is all about: service.

When Jesus knelt before the disciples to wash their feet, it was a symbol of “Christ serving the bride of the Church,” Anthony explained.

As Anthony and Stephanie make plans to wed on August 9 this year, they are also preparing for a life of service to each other. “My job is to serve her, she will serve me,” Anthony said.

Human love is divine

Recently, the engaged couple sat together at Hofstra University in Hempstead. They agreed to be interviewed by TLIC before their weekly group meeting of Theology of the Body on the divine meaning of human love. When the interview went a little late and they missed the meeting, they didn’t mind. They had already read and discussed the chapters at home.

It’s been four years since Anthony and Stephanie met in music class at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. It wasn’t love at first sight.

“He was a New York punk wearing a bandana and sweat pants,” she said.

“I thought she was nerdy and joyful, like a product of the ’70s,” he countered. “I was not used to people smiling so much. She wore overalls and loved daisies.”

But feelings changed, first for Stephanie. One day, she heard him play a song on the piano that he had written for the person he hoped to marry someday. It was called, “Everything You Are to Me.”

“I was just in awe,” she said.

They became good friends, but Anthony was not ready for a relationship. When he first arrived at school, he did not attend Mass regularly. But soon he felt God calling him to something more. Along with growing a beard, he grew in his relationship with Christ. He questioned his future. Should he become a priest?

“Eventually, prayer changed my heart,” Anthony said. “It was like God was washing my window so I could see clearly.” He realized he was being called to marriage, but “for me to be a St. Joseph, I needed a Mary,” he said.

He realized he already cared for someone like that: Stephanie. They were both passionate about God, singing and playing the guitar and piano.

“I was co-chair of the liturgy committee at school,” she said.

“I did the praise and worship music,” he said.

After graduation, Stephanie moved into an apartment in Anthony’s hometown of Farmingdale.

Now, Stephanie teaches chorus at St. Martin de Porres Marianist School in Uniondale while Anthony is a campus minister at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville.

They lead song at Adelphi University in Garden City at the 7 p.m. Sunday Mass and lead music for the Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, a young adult ministry at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Woodbury. They also play for various vocation, college and seminary retreats as well as charismatic conferences.

They are excited and nervous about the big day, when they will finally share a home and the rest of their lives together. “I want to live up to being the man that she deserves, being an image of Christ for her,” Anthony said.

Marriage founded on faith

August and Rita Ripp, both 92, got married when they were 23 years old, the same age as Anthony and Stephanie are now. If you ask the Ripps what the secret is to their long-lasting marriage of 68 years, they can’t quite put a finger on it.

“Well, we never go to bed angry,” said Rita, a parishioner of St. Joseph’s Church in Babylon. “And first thing in the morning, he kisses me.”

But after many stories of Church and children, it’s evident their relationship is built on faith and family.

Like the intertwined fingers of lovers, the Ripps’ family life and religious life are almost indistinguishable.Lining the walls of their home in North Babylon, there are pictures of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. But just as notable are photos of themselves being honored by bishops and priests for their years of service.

In one picture, Bishop John McGann thanks them for raising funds for the Bishop’s Appeal. In another, Bishop William Murphy awards them the St. Agnes Medal of Service. Bishop Murphy recently called recipients of this award “the unsung heroes in our midst who build up our parish communities by extraordinary service in parish ministry.”

The Ripps admit they’ve done a lot of service over the years: the Bishop’s Appeal, the Holy Name Society, bingo, the parish bazaar, the Chrysanthemum Ball, school fundraisers, hospital fundraisers and more.

And they are still going strong. August serves as an usher at the 9:30 a.m. Mass as he has done for 55 years. Rita has been an active member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas just as long. Together, they still serve in the St. Vincent de Paul Society at the parish, helping those in need in the local community.

“The need is so great … mortgage, rent, car insurance. I don’t know how these people are doing it,” said August, a retired director of production at Grumman.

Playing Santa

One of their favorite things to do together is to drop off Christmas presents to families, said Rita. Last year, they delivered gifts to a single dad raising a large family. The father was so grateful, he cried. “We went home and cried ourselves,” Rita said. “It gives us such satisfaction. It makes us thank God for our blessings.”

“God has been so good to us,” Rita said, recalling their love story. “Auggie was friends with my brother. On my 16th birthday, he was at the house. We walked out into the hallway and he asked me, ‘Have you ever been kissed?’ And I said, ‘Of course, my mom and dad kiss me all the time!’”

He leaned over and kissed her.

“I stood there, straight like this with my mouth open!”

“She was like a mummy!” he agreed with a laugh.

After that, they were a pair. Whether it was meeting at the Parthenon for a movie, sipping ice cream sodas for 10 cents, or meeting for a mid-day meal on their lunch break, they were always together.

Now, they share a different meal together every day at 7:45 a.m. They go to Mass to say, “Thanks.”

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” said August. They are hoping for one more blessing, “to celebrate our 70th anniversary together,” said Rita, crossing her fingers.

August, noting his carpal tunnel syndrome, couldn’t quite cross his fingers, so he dramatically used his other hand to do it. They laughed.

---

This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Long Island Catholic(www.licatholic.org), official newspaper of the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island, N.Y.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

Heartwarming footage of selfless man risking his own life to save a stranded dog restores faith in humanity Watch

Image of Hearts stop as the fate of the dog and rescuer become unclear. Will they make it back up the bridge?

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Stranded on a small island on a Nisava River in Serbia, a helpless dog hides in dead bushes accepting his fate. A group of caring friends notice the dog, and set up a mission to rescue the abandoned dog. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "On my way home I met a few ... continue reading


Caught on tape: Hilarious standoff between father and toddler daughter goes viral Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Parenting a toddler can be quite a difficult task. They're stubborn, sassy and are developing a personality of their own. Gareth Roe, an Irish father, knows firsthand how complicated toddlers can be after experiencing a humorous argument with his 15-month-old daughter, ... continue reading


Undeniably cute rendition of classic children's song is sure to put a smile on your face Watch

Image of Josie sings an adorable song to her father.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the midst of war, terror and disease, it's important to take the time to smile and remember that some of the world is good. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - An adorable toddler melts hearts with her spunky rendition of classic children's song "Old McDonald." ... continue reading


Mother of quadruplets tragically dies without ever seeing her four miracles Watch

Image of Erica Morales, 36-years-old, tragically passed away hours after giving birth to quadruplets.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Just hours after giving birth to quadruplets, Arizona mother, Erica Morales, died. "She never got to hold them, she never got to see them," cried Morales' cousin, Nicole Todman to Fox10. "It is so hard to know she fought so hard for her children. She will never get to ... continue reading


Archbishop of San Francisco warns of coming war on marriage Watch

Image of The Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, warned of a growing war on the

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On January 16, the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, warned of a growing war on the "essential meaning of marriage," as defining "a bond which unites a man and a woman to each other and to any children who come from their union." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


One... two... three babies?! New mother gets shocking surprise in ultrasound Watch

Image of Boe, Mika and Hope love to cuddle. (Magic Moments SWNS.com)

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Imagine hoping for one child, and being told you're pregnant with triplets; this was the case for British mother of now four, Melanie Thornton. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Melanie had a happy life with just her 13-year-old daughter and husband. Her husband, ... continue reading


Do you know what your kids are putting online? Here are 30 text acronyms that your teen DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW Watch

Image of Teens have an entire code for keeping parents clueless about their activities.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In this new age of easy, fast and discrete communication the English language has rapidly evolved in a way that may leave many older people at a loss. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Acronyms rule the digital airwaves, being all important in the world of ... continue reading


14 years later: Extreme and horrific child abuse victim, Lauren Kavanaugh, thrives Watch

Image of Lauren Kavanaugh, now 21-years-old, attends college and plans on becoming a counselor to help those going through similar situations as hers.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Routinely raped and tortured, Lauren Kavanaugh was forced to live in a 4ft by 9ft closet for five years of her life until she was rescued in 2001. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Now 21-years-old, Lauren lives the "normal" life of a college student aspiring to make ... continue reading


Should marriage be defined by the legal system? The Supreme Court may aim to change the textbook definition of marriage Watch

Image of The U.S. Supreme Court may decide on same-sex marriage, as early as June of this year.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What is the definitive definition of marriage? Is it only a union before God between men and women, or is it extended to same-sex couples as well? This is a question that may be legally decided by the Supreme Court, which is set to decide soon if it will take up ... continue reading


The Reality of Marriage: The Lifelong Union of One Man and One Woman Watch

Image of

By Deacon Frederick K. Bartels

Marriage is a unique reality. There is no possibility of redefining it, shaping it in a new and essentially different way, or altering its nature, since marriage is authored by God and woven into the fabric of human life. The reality of marriage is the permanent union ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:32-39
32 Remember the great challenge of the sufferings ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 37:3-4, 5-6, 23-24, 39-40
3 Put your trust in Yahweh and do right, make your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:26-34
26 He also said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 30th, 2015 Image

St. Aldegunais
January 30: Virgin and abess, also known as Adelgundis, Aldegonde, or ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter