The Deacon's Bench

What’s it like to be married to a member of the Catholic clergy?

My wife, seen with Your Humble Blogger on the left (in the recessional at my Mass of Thanksgiving, after being a deacon’s wife for less than 24 hours) is suspiciously silent on the subject when asked. “Challenging,” is about the best she can offer, always rendered with a smile.

But a lot of men who are discerning a vocation to the diaconate — and a lot of their wives — are wondering. I get a lot of e-mails from wives who are curious, and a little worried, about what might lie ahead.

Thankfully, one deacon’s wife, Becky Stonecipher, in Atlanta, has started a blog of her own and is providing some answers:

1. My husband is going to be an ordained deacon; will I be Rev. Ms. Smith?

The short answer is NO. It depends on your diocese but in Atlanta, wives are encouraged to attend classes with their husbands. It will educate you not only to what will be expected of your husband after ordination but you will learn more about what the Church teaches. If at all possible, I urge you to attend when possible – education is always a good thing! The church is paying lots of money for your husband’s education and you have a chance to get it free.

2. What will be expected of me from the church after he is ordained?

Short answer NOTHING. This is not your “vocation,” it is your husbands. All the Church asks is that you support your husband. Truth is, the Church will appreciate you being as involved as possible. You and your husband may be involved in some of the same ministries and you may find your own niche. Remember that you represent your husband and the Church at all times.

As a Deacon’s wife you will be privy to some information that is not intended for the general population – as good as you might feel the gossip is don’t share! Support comes in all forms and proper behavior and trust are just a couple.

3. We do “EVERYTHING” together. I am afraid that after he is ordained he will not have any time for me.

Short answer Maybe Not! This is the question that is always first and foremost in wives of “soon to be Deacons”. It is also the hardest question to answer because the answer depends on your husband’s ability to say “No”. Your husband has accepted the call to become a Deacon because he has a deep desire to serve God’s people. In accepting a position as a Deacon, your husband has accepted a position of “service”. In most parishes he will be used to serve to the point of physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion if he does not learn to say no. While it is your job to support your husband in his service, it is also your job to remind him if necessary that he just might be burning the ole candle at both ends. We have a group of Deacon friends and we try and get together every few of months (the Deacons in formation in our area are also invited) and as it always happens the men end up in one room and the wives in another and “family time management” is always a topic of discussion. Some men have been Deacons for years and still struggle with “family time management”. Others learned early on that their first commitment is to their family – these wives are the ones with the big smiles on their faces!

There’s more, so be sure to visit her blog “Yes, My Husband Is A Catholic Deacon.”

And her husband happens to be a fella I mentioned several weeks ago in these pages. He has a blog and website of his own you should check out, too. Tell him hello from The Deacon’s Bench!

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