Through 58 years of marriage, couple finds joy in serving Church and each other
June 27, 2017
Every morning, John and Cora Landicho start their day together with daily Mass at St. Joseph’s Parish in Beltsville. The couple, who often had to spend long periods of time apart when John traveled for work, said one of the greatest joys of their 58 year-long marriage is spending time together, doing things as simple as going to the grocery store.
The couple met in 1957 at a New Years Eve party in Washington, when John, who had traveled from California to visit his aunt, asked Cora to dance. They were separated when someone else cut in, but about a year later, John’s aunt invited him to a picnic, where he saw Cora once again. His aunt knew he was interested in her, and in accordance with Filipino customs, she asked Cora’s family if her nephew could court her, and they said yes.
After a year of courting, which always involved having a chaperone present, John and Cora got married at the Walter Reed Memorial Chapel on Jan. 17, 1959. The couple now has five adult children; Thomas, James, Edward, Ann and Theresa; and seven grandchildren.
“She’s my good luck charm,” said John, remembering how right around the time they got married, he got promoted, and around the time each of their children was born, he would get another promotion.
John worked for the United States General Accounting Office for 36 years, after serving for four years in the U.S. Army. While he traveled for work, Cora would be the one to take care of the children, driving them from one sports practice to another.
“The best part of (any) assignment is coming home,” he said, recalling how he would always bring gifts home for his wife and children.
The reason why the couple now goes to daily Mass, John said, is because of how grateful they are for their blessings. He recalled several instances where he thought he could have died while he was overseas in Vietnam, Korea and Germany, and feels grateful to have made it back to his family every time.
“I promised the Lord I’ll go to Mass,” he said. “But that’s no problem, because she loves to go.”
At St. Joseph’s Parish in Beltsville, they both serve as Eucharistic Ministers. Cora is chairman of the arts and environmental committee, which decorates the church, and also is a member of the rosary makers group and the Ladies of Charity, who visit Hillhaven assisted living center. John is the chairman of the parish finance committee and serves as an adult altar server. In the past, he has also served on the building committee, the pastoral council, and helped with the Cardinal’s Appeal.
The couple has also contributed to the larger Church in several ways, and was instrumental in bringing the Oratory of Our Lady Queen of Peace and Good Voyage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The oratory holds a replica of a Filipino statue of Our Lady that reportedly disappeared twice from its location in the Philippines, and each time was found in the branches of a breadfruit tree.
In 1995, the Landichos traveled to Manila to meet with Cardinal Jaime Sin, the former archbishop of Manila, and received his approval to take this statue back to the United States. They arranged for the statue to fly first class on Philippine Airlines to San Francisco, and then to be transported from there to Washington.
Cora was born in the Philippines, and her father was a survivor of the Bataan Death March during World War II. He escaped to join guerilla forces, and in doing so, his family was marked for death by the Japanese. Going to Manila to retrieve the statue was the first time Cora had returned to the country since leaving, which she described as “a very poignant thing for me.”
After returning to the United States, the Landichos traveled around the country with the statue, fundraising for the oratory. Through all of the travel, the vestments of the statue were damaged, so the couple arranged for Filipino artisans to stay with them and restore the statue in their home.
They said they felt very privileged to have Our Lady in their home for six weeks, and during that time their home turned into a small pilgrimage site, with parishioners from St. Joseph’s coming in at different times each day to pray in front of the statue.
John received the “Order of Merit” award from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for his work with the oratory, but he said “they really got it wrong, because it should have been a joint award.” Several years later, Cardinal Donald Wuerl presented the couple with a Manifesting the Kingdom Award, and this time, “They got it right” by including Cora, John said.
Following their example of service to the Church, most of their grandchildren are now altar servers. Reflecting on how the faith has passed down the generations, Cora said when her kids were growing up she never thought about the “chain reaction” that comes from what she did, but just tried to live her faith as she normally would.
“What you do is the good example, not what you tell them,” she said.
Cora also remembers that it was her own parents that instilled the faith in her through their intense prayer during the war, as the family had to keep running and hiding from the Japanese who were hunting them down.
Cora has continued to be resilient, and about a year ago she had to have heart surgery with five bypasses and an aortic valve replacement. She has been gradually getting better ever since, and John still keeps a journal of all of her medications. True to the vows he had taken nearly 60 years previously, “when she was sick, I didn’t run,” he said.
“When you take your vows, it is not a set of words,” said John. “You’re doing it in a church before God. It is a promise before Him."
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