By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND
Milo and Lucille Winter, longtime parishioners of St. Ann, Waubun, have been chosen as the honorary couple for the 22nd annual diocesan Marriage Celebration Day on Oct. 1.
On Nov. 13, they will celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary.
Lucille was born northeast of Mahnomen and has six brothers. Milo grew up west of Waubun and has one sister and two brothers. They met in 1945 at a dance hall. Lucille first noticed Milo because of his smile.
“I fell in love right away,” she said. At the time Milo was a drummer in a band based in Mahnomen. The couple eventually began dating, and on Nov. 13, 1945, they were married.
“Weddings then were always on a Tuesday,” Lucille said. “It was beautiful weather before the wedding and then on the day of our wedding, it snowed the night before so the roads got icy, but we made it!”
The couple couldn’t afford to take a honeymoon.
“We went right to work,” Milo said. “We ended up being dairy farmers all our lives.” Their farm was located west of Waubun.
“It wasn’t easy. It was tough, but we made it,” Lucille said.
“We started out without anything,” Milo said. “We didn’t have furniture for the living room,” he added. “We bought used stuff where we could and a refrigerator and deep freeze when we could afford it.”
Lucille kept a big garden and canned and preserved fruits and vegetables.
“It wasn’t a lot, but it was good what we had,” she said. “Just do the best you can, that’s all. That’s the main thing.”
Two years into their marriage, their first child was born. Over the next 22 years, 13 more followed. All are living now, except one son who drowned at age 15.
“I just loved my little kids and I love them today even though they’re all grown up and healthy. It’s so wonderful. Not everybody can say that, but I can, we can,” said Lucille.
“Time goes too fast,” Milo said. “We were blessed with a family, a healthy family.”
The Winters now have 34 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
“It gets kind of crowded at Easter and at Christmastime around here,” Milo said.
“It’s a good crowded,” added Lucille.
“We found out that the family that prays together, stays together,” said Milo.
Attending Sunday Mass was a top priority.
“Regardless of how many [children] there were, we always got them ready and we went to church Sunday morning,” Lucille said.
They also always made sure to pray together before and after every meal, no matter what.
“God is very much at the center of their lives,” their pastor, Father John Cox, OMI, wrote when nominating the couple. “They are a praying couple who taught their children to pray. I have been present in their home at meal time on family occasions. Milo leads prayers before and after the meal and all join in. It is clear this is a life-long practice.”
Their oldest child, Yvonne Schilplin, said she can remember times when the whole family would kneel down on the wood floor to pray the rosary in the evening.
For a number of years, one of their girls carried baby Jesus forward at Midnight Mass. The couple has also been involved in various ways in parish life. They were Eucharistic ministers, Lucille belonged to the Rosary society and Milo served as a trustee for a while.
“Over the years their faith sustained them through the challenges of farming, raising children, the loss of a son and now their old age and health issues,” wrote Father Cox. “They have love not only for each other, but for all their very large family and many friends in whom they take great delight. They worked hard all of their lives. They have experienced loss, but they possess a beautiful spirit of joy and gratitude for blessings.”
Lucille said her advice for couples is simple: don’t give up.
“There will be hard times, but don’t give up. Take it in stride,” she said. “Don’t give up when things get tough … we’ve been there. We know.”
Schilplin, now a widow, was married 29 years and is grateful for the example of her parents’ marriage.
“I’ll have to reiterate what mom said, when the going gets tough, just stick it out and just have faith,” she said. “That’s what they taught us, if you have faith, believe in God, it will all be OK.”
The example set by Milo and Lucille reaches through the generations.
“They are incredible parents. They role model. I think they role model to all the grandchildren who repeatedly say that. Now they’re role models for the little great-grandchildren who want to come here and sit on their laps and play games with them,” Schilplin said. “They showed us the most important things of going to Church and being together as much as we could be.”
Deacon Mark Krejci, Director of the Office of Marriage, Family and Life said holding Marriage Celebration Day is especially key at this time when society increasingly views marriage as a social contract.
“It is important that we gather as the Church in the Diocese of Crookston to stress the sacramental meaning of marriage,” he said. “Married couples are called by the Church to reflect the love of Jesus Christ in the world, to be a living sacrament of grace in our midst.”
Marriage Celebration Day will be Oct. 1 at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston. Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner will celebrate Mass at 2:30 p.m. with a dinner following. All married couples, widows or widowers from the diocese are invited to come. Please RSVP by Sept. 20 by calling 218-281-4533 or visiting www.crookston.org/offices/marriagefamily/home.