The Good Pope’s Legacy of Love: Rita and Walter Kaeding’s 70th Anniversary

Join New Pond Village in celebrating residents Rita and Walter Kaeding’s 70th anniversary. Their heartwarming journey includes a lifetime of love, family and faith.

Rita and Walter Kaeding are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this year. Childhood sweethearts, they’ve known each other since kindergarten, growing up together in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

Raising Three Daughters

The couple raised three daughters in their Dedham, Massachusetts home, where they lived for 60 years before moving to New Pond Village, a continuing care retirement community located in nearby Walpole.  When asked what it takes to be dedicated to one person for a lifetime, Rita says there’s no secret.

“There isn’t anything special.  Everybody loves him, but I love him the most,” she chuckles. “It’s just really caring for each other, putting your spouse first.  We care for each other and the other one always comes first.  God made it happen.”

Faith and Family

That selfless devotion is a mark of faith and, you could say, a family trait for Rita. Growing up in an Italian Catholic household, the church has always been a major part of her life.  It also didn’t hurt that her distant cousin was one of the most influential church leaders of the 20th century.

“My grandmother and her sister were both Roncallis,” explains Rita. “All my grandmother talked about was Giuseppe. Giuseppe was the man.”

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli became Pope John XXIII on October 28th, 1958.  He succeeded the 20-year papacy of Pope Pius XII, “a very austere pope,” as Rita puts it, and his service was expected to be short, uneventful, and transitional in nature.

Guided by Love and Compassion

Instead, Pope John XXIII, known affectionately today as “The Good Pope,” called the Second Vatican Council and modernized the Catholic Church. “They started saying Mass in local languages and had a stronger role for the laity in the everyday life of the church.” Pope John XXIII, who helped rescue thousands of Jewish people from the Nazis during WWII, also removed the term “perfidious (faithless) Jews” from the liturgy.

Weeks before his death, Pope John XXIII issued his final papal encyclical, Pacem en terris, or “peace on earth,” which established human rights, dignity, and equality as the basis for peace.  And even though Rita never met her distant cousin the Pope, they shared similar values and she has tried to live her life with the same approach he did. “It just was love, all the way.”

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