Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Lena Pennino

2/29/2008 (7 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 (7 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.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Marriage & Family

Distracted teenage drivers caught on camera in horrifying accidents Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed about 1,700 takes of footage involving teenage drivers and the moments just before they crash. The videos are horrifying and disturbing, as the common cause of the accidents is distracted driving. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES ... continue reading


Children's coloring book tackles gender stereotypes with 'Super-Soft Heroes' Watch

Image of Super Soft Heroes shows young boys it's OK to not always be strong.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Linnea Johansson became worried after seeing her usually emotional 3-year-old son do his best not to cry, saying he wouldn't cry because Spiderman doesn't. As a mother bothered by how gender stereotypes are affecting her child and a fan of comic books who believes that ... continue reading


'Kill it, give it away or leave it at home' Woman rants and complains about child's behavior in shocking viral video Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An upsetting video of an older woman ranting, giving disgusting suggestions about a misbehaving child she witnessed at a grocery store has gone viral. Identified as Kathleen Smith from Tomball, Texas, she suggests the mother could have done something so the child ... continue reading


Destined by fate: New Jersey couple discover something incredible in a home video Watch

Image of Married now for eight years, the Spencer's discovered they actually crossed paths in 1988.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jourdan and Ryan Spencer from New Jersey were shocked to see that they crossed each other's path 16 years before they officially met. Watching a home video, taken during Jourdan's family trip to Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, they saw someone familiar appear ... continue reading


A woman's life in numbers: The 'ultimate female life timeline' highlights the ages women experience change in life Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As women grow from little girls to adults, the endure certain life-changing events. From being the girl-turned-woman after menstruation until she is on the age of the peak of female life expectancy, here are the significant ages women can count on being important. ... continue reading


How to find your way back to your spouse: Tips on what to do when conflicts become too much Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Couples should learn to relate with one another, in order to conquer challenges they cannot fully anticipate, according to David B. Hawkins from crosswalk.com. Some people assess that the individual person gets along more with others than their spouse. Hawkins ... continue reading


Woman with two mothers comes out AGAINST gay marriage, and the reason why is not what you think Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Heather Barwick is a gay marriage advocate who was raised by two lesbian mothers. However, she recently published an open letter entitled "Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting" in the Federalist. She stated she loves her two mothers and the gay community, but now ... continue reading


Don't just stand there, DO SOMETHING! Viral sexual assault PSA shocks viewers by asking #WhoWillYouHelp Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new campaign, in Ontario, directly asks people who they will help: the perpetrators or the victims. The video shows the way bystanders are being "accomplices" and also guilty of the sexual assault when they opt out from doing something and keep their silence. ... continue reading


Breastfed babies make more money Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The intelligence developed by babies from stable breast-feeding carries on into their adulthood and makes them earn more money, according to research. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Although there are existing studies that establish correlation between ... continue reading


Amazing message from God stops YouTube star from having abortion Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"People remember dates for birthdays, and anniversaries. Well this date is forever burned in my brain. It's a day that I will remember and I remember every single detail of that day," stated Kimberly Henderson, 26-year-old mother and viral YouTube star. LOS ANGELES, CA ... 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, Isaiah 42:1-7
1 Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14
1 [Of David] Yahweh is my light and my salvation, ... Read More

Gospel, John 12:1-11
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 30th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Regulatus
March 30: Also Peter Regalado, Franciscan reformer. Peter was born at ... 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