Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME), the original faith based marriage enrichment program in the United States, announced today the national winners of the 2018 Longest Married Couple Project. They are Mota and Avanelle Young of Bowling Green, KY. The Youngs have been married 81 years as of April 14th, 2017.
Over 200 nominations were received for this year’s project. The winners from individual states will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2018. This is the eighth year for the nationwide project.
“It is truly a privilege and honor to recognize the Youngs for their commitment to marriage,” said Joe & Sue Talarico and Fr. Tom Ogg, the United States Ecclesial Team for WWME. “We are looking forward to personally recognizing them on Feb. 10th in their hometown of Bowling Green,” they added. The Talaricos serve with Fr. Ogg, as the U.S. leadership for the marriage enrichment movement. Fr. Ogg will join the Talaricos at the presentation.
The Youngs were married April 14, 1936. They met earlier that year at a party where spin the bottle was being played. They didn’t kiss each other, but a few weeks later they started dating and within three months they got married. Avanelle was still in high school, but she completed school and graduated. At a high school graduation party fellow seniors gave the couple a gag gift – a rolling pin – which they still have.
The Kentucky couple achieved the honor of being the WWME National Longest Married Couple based on nominations submitted to Worldwide Marriage Encounter beginning in October of last year. The nomination project ended on January 10th of this year.
The WWME national leadership team pointed out that the project is based on nominations received from October 10th the previous year to January 10th of the current year. “We realize there could be couples married longer, but we did not receive their nominations from friends or family during the nominating period, or they chose not to be recognized for their marriage achievements,” they said.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter created the project to highlight marriage in America and to show young couples that marriage really can go the distance. “What an inspiration Mr. & Mrs. Young are to all of us. They made a commitment to each other over 81 years ago and they have kept that commitment. They truly are an inspiration and sign of hope to all of us,” the Talaricos and Fr. Ogg said.
The national winners have three children, six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. The presentation of gifts and acknowledgments to the Youngs will be made on Feb. 10th in Bowling Green.
State winners from across the country will be presented certificates of achievement and other recognitions by Worldwide Marriage Encounter couples during Valentine’s week, as well as the rest of the month.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter has been offering weekend experiences for over 50 years and is considered the original faith-based marriage enrichment program. The programs are continually updated to keep abreast of changes in society, and WWME now offers evening and half-day programs that are presented at parishes and other church facilities. The weekend program, traditionally presented as an overnight experience at a hotel or retreat center, can also be presented at facilities where the couples return to their homes in the evenings. WWME has a presence in almost 100 countries, which makes it the largest pro-marriage movement in the world. In North America, the WWME programs are presented in English, Spanish, French, and Korean languages.