by Sherri Veneman | April 10, 2017
In an earlier blog, my husband, Steven, wrote of his calling to become a deacon. I would like to share what my role has been and what I believe it will be throughout this journey, as a deacon’s wife. During a recent formation weekend the wives of the candidates had an impromptu discussion about our calling as deacon wives. We discussed a number of questions about this. Is our husband’s calling our calling as well? Is our calling different? Do we have our own calling? What would our roles be? I would like to share with you some of the discussion and the things that I learned through the conversation.
We learned in our conversation, that deacon wives are not called to be deacons. However, couples who enter into formation are called to the ministry of the deacon together, as husband and wife. Confirming this, a wife has to give her consent for her husband to enter into formation. From the very beginning the wives have been encouraged to be a part of this process: the application, the interviews, psychological testing and review. Once accepted into the program the wives have been able to participate in the classes, to attend the formation weekends and some, including myself, have helped their husbands in their practicum.
So, what is my calling?
First, as a wife, I am called to be true to the Sacrament of Marriage. In doing this, I support my husband in his ministry as a deacon.
As for the role and identity unique to the wife in this dynamic relationship, the couple whose marriage has been transformed by Holy Orders “[has] to be aware that the nurturing and deepening of their mutual sacrificial love will be the most important way that [the wife] will be involved in her husband’s public ministry in the Church.” In this, the wife of the permanent deacon is given the responsibility of forming the marital covenant towards greater agape. Her role has been further articulated; it is by her substantial participation in the sacramental life of her uniquely ordered marriage that she is identified.”
Second, I am called to be a mother. My husband and I were blessed with five beautiful children who we must guide and support, while maintaining our home.
“For centuries, the Latin Church has had the experience of only celibate ordained ministers. Experience of ordained ministers who are married is recent. Special attention, catechesis, and direction must be given to this aspect of ministry, particularly to the mutual relationship between the sacrament of marriage and the sacrament of orders. Self-giving love is common to both sacraments. During this formation, as well as after ordination, the candidates and their wives need to appreciate this potential for an integrated spirituality that relates the two sacraments.”
Third, I am called to continue using my charisms in our parish as a lay minister and to join my husband in his ministry as a Deacon, which might include helping with baptisms, weddings, funerals, RCIA, youth ministry, etc.
“As for the participation of the wife in the formation of her husband as a diaconal candidate, the chapter strongly recommends her participation “in the entire program of formation.” By this participation, the wife moves towards attaining informed consent for her husband’s ordination, required by the revised Code of Canon Law (CIC 1050:3), through “courses, social gatherings, and retreats” with her husband, the community of candidates, and candidates’ wives. The mutual participation in the formation process of husband and wife is encouraged due to the life of sacrificial love which they shared sacramentally prior to diaconal formation and will continue to share after the husband’s ordination.
One of the most important things I have learned through this process is how important it is to make time for us and for our family. We pray with each other on a daily basis and participate in Church activities together as much as possible. I can still participate in the parish the way I always have, as well as participating where appropriate in parish activities with my husband. However, I feel that my most important call is to love the Lord our God, to stay true to the Sacrament of Marriage, and to support and love my family. In doing this I am honoring God and His call.
This blog post was contributed by Sherri Veneman, Parish of the Resurrection, Manchester, NH