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Companions on a journey for over 60 years

Phyllis and Kevin Kinsela
Phyllis and Kevin Kinsela. Photo: Virginia Knight

By Virginia Knight

Celebrating 62 years of marriage, Kevin and Phyllis Kinsela have lived for the past 55 years in the parish of Sacred Heart, Westmead. On 19 September, they will come to St Patrick’s Cathedral for Celebrating the Journey, an annual event hosted by Centacare Catholic Social Services, Diocese of Parramatta.

Bishop Anthony Fisher OP will preside at the 2pm Mass, which will include a special blessing for couples celebrating significant marriage milestones and their families.

Born in Wagga Wagga in 1924, Kevin (Terry) came into the world ‘in the lockup’; his father was the local policeman and as the policeman’s wife, his mother cared for the prisoners.

The family moved to Sydney and Kevin attended Concord Public School and then went on to De La Salle College at Ashfield. When he was just 13 his mother died and his aunt came to care for them before his father remarried.

Kevin is one of 10 children (five boys and five girls). When he left school jobs were difficult to find, and his father managed to get him an apprenticeship as a chef before the onset of World War II saw him called up to the armed services at age 18.

Phyllis was born in 1926 and completed both her primary and secondary education at St John’s at Auburn. After school she went into office work, first for the railways and then at the aircraft factory at Chullora during the war.

Phyllis had two younger brothers and lived just down the road from Kevin’s aunt. As she was best friends with Kevin’s cousin, the two young people got to know each other well as they were growing up.

“I didn’t need one, but it was another good reason to visit my favourite aunt regularly,” Kevin admits with a smile. But he said his undoing came when Phyllis asked him to be her debut partner.

The day before the debut, he was informed by the war office that he was being posted to Melbourne unless he could find a substitute. He made sure he did, and after all the weeks of practise he got his reward when the little girl he had come to know over the years appeared before him as a beautiful young woman. They began dating and fell in love.

“We didn’t have cars and I lived in nearby Burwood,” Kevin said. “I used to say goodnight when I could hear the train leaving Clyde. I would run to the station and duck under the fence to catch it. This night, they had put a strand of wire across. I rebounded and missed the train.”

He returned to Phyllis’s house and proposed. The couple were married at St John’s Church in Auburn by Fr O’Reilly and after initially living with Phyllis’s family they settled at Burwood.

Phyllis and Kevin had five children, but lost their eldest son Kevin at age seven in an accident. “That is one of the times that you learn to pull together rather than let it tear you apart,” Phyllis said.

Maureen, Christopher, Deborah and Mark and the couple’s seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren live around Sydney or on the Central Coast. They count family get-togethers and the company of good friends as important parts of their lives.

Kevin said that in the early days of their marriage one of the biggest challenges was budgeting. They didn’t spend money on anything unless could afford it.

Their first house was an old weatherboard and although they were completely inexperienced at renovations, they spent every spare moment and penny they had doing it up.

Trying to make ends meet and losing a child challenged them as a couple but together they found a way to get through. “We were at an advantage in that we were living in an era where we had strong values and morals regarding marriage,” Phyllis said. “To get through tough times you must depend upon each other all the way and support each other.”

Both agree one priority in promoting a happy marriage is to always make up after an argument and be willing to compromise. “We don’t always agree to begin with, but we do in the end,” Kevin said.

They say one of the main challenges for young couples today is trying to find the balance between work and time for their relationship. “You have your ups and downs, but you still love each other and that helps you through everything,” Phyllis said.

“As you become older, you become closer. You become one,” Kevin concludes.

Celebrating the Journey

Sunday 19 September 2010 at 2pm

St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, 1 Marist Place, Parramatta

Couples in the Diocese of Parramatta who were married in 1985, 1970, 1960 or any couple married over 50 years, are invited to celebrate their marital journey with Bishop Anthony Fisher OP at a special Mass at 2pm in St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Couples, together with their family & friends, are invited to afternoon tea in the parish hall following Mass. If you would like to attend, please register with your parish by Monday 6 September.

Centacare Catholic Social Services, Diocese of Parramatta

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