Vows just as lovely second time


February 17, 2000|By Diane B. Mikulis | Diane B. Mikulis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IN HIS second week as pastor at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the Rev. John Wilbur led 15 couples in renewing their marriage vows.

It was an opportunity for Wilbur to meet and interact with some of his new parishioners.

For the couples, it was a chance to say they'd do it all over again.

They said it Sunday in a ceremony at the Lisbon church.

"It takes you back to when you got married," said Lee Hajek, who has been married for 27 years to Paul Hajek. "It kind of brings a lump to your throat to realize he's still willing to make that commitment."

The Hajeks have raised their children, become grandparents and survived their share of sickness and trouble.

"That all doesn't matter," Lee said. "We still love each other."

The vow renewal ceremony has become an annual event at St. Paul's. It is held during a regular service on the Sunday closest to Valentine's Day.

Midway through the service, the couples move to the front of the church and turn toward their partners to say their vows. Then each couple steps forward and kneels at the altar rail to receive a blessing.

After the service, a wedding reception is held in the church hall. Couples take turns posing for pictures in front of the three- tiered wedding cake that all later enjoy.

Lee Hajek and fellow parishioner Trudi Lawson started the tradition about seven years ago.

The Hajeks had attended a Catholic Marriage Encounter weekend where they renewed their vows.

Trudi Lawson and her husband, Dave, had also participated in a Marriage Encounter program designed to strengthen commitment.

A few years later, the women heard about an annual vow-renewal service at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore and thought it would be nice to get several couples together to participate.

"But I didn't really want to drive to Baltimore," Trudi said. She and Lee came up with the idea of holding such a service at their church.

At St. Paul's, the ceremony is a family event.

Small children are brought into the church from the nursery to see their parents profess their love and commitment to each other.

"I think it's nice for the kids to see their parents renew their vows," Lee Hajek said.

The Lawsons' grown son, Dave Jr., also participated in the vow renewal with his wife, Heather.

Fourteen-year-old Matt Van Osterom watched his parents from the altar, where he served as an acolyte, or altar server.

"It's the first time they've done it in a while," he said.

His father, George, thought saying his vows in front of Matt and two other children was "different."

But, he added, "I like sharing everything."

For Denise Van Osterom, it was an emotional experience. "I cried when I really married him, and I cried today," she said.

It hasn't been that long since Andrea and Troy Harrison took their original vows. The couple, expecting their first child in June, were married just more than a year ago at St. Paul's.

During Sunday's service, Andrea said, she was re-living the experience of saying her vows. With a child on the way, she was glad to have the opportunity.

"I don't think I remember anything from the wedding," she said.

Dallas and Landon Reeve, who have been married four years, have been members of St. Paul's for that time. This was their first chance to participate in the vow renewal.

For the past three years, one or the other or both had been out of town when the ceremony was held.

They were happy they could be part of this year's ceremony.

"We thought it was a good idea, a good thing to do," Landon said.

Bright musicians

Music students at River Hill High School have been doing more than making great music. Nearly 20 senior music students have been recognized for academic excellence.

Andrew Chen, Alex Mekelburg, Elizabeth Schemm, Ben Shirley-Quirk, Austin Stahl and Eric Tung were named as semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship program.

The Maryland Distinguished Scholar program recognized Jennifer Antelman, Bethany Byron, Andrew Chen, Sebastian Cherng, Jonathan Cox, Andrew Dell, Robyn Fleck, Regina Gouker, Jamie Hausch, Nathan Koterba, Kristen McManus, Alex Mekelburg, Elizabeth Schemm, Ji Song, Austin Stahl, Kelly Thompson and Eric Tung.

Andrew Chen, Sebastian Cherng, Jamie Hausch and Alex Mekelburg were recognized by the Maryland Distinguished Scholar in the Arts program.

You can hear some of these students perform at the East Coast Jazz Festival on Saturdayat the Double Tree Hotel in Rockville.

The River Hill Jazz Band goes onstage at 9: 30 p.m. Admission is free.

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