Jim Graves is a Catholic writer and editor living in Newport Beach, California. He previously served as Managing Editor for the Diocese of Orange Bulletin, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Orange, California. His work has appeared in the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Cal Catholic Daily and Catholic World Report.
Wives of permanent deacons play an important role in their husbands’ ministries. I asked four wives of permanent deacons in different parts of the U.S. to share about their husbands’ lives as deacons.
Mary Anne Greco’s husband, Steve, was ordained for the Diocese of Orange in 2007. Although he’s retired from a career in the medical industry, he is constantly busy with his ministerial duties as well as heading the Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry.
Mary Anne long believed her husband would make a good deacon but never expressed the thought to him. When he expressed a desire to go through the process, she recalled, “I knew it must be God calling him.”
She and the future Deacon Steve bonded with other married couples as they went through the diaconate classes. She was sad on ordination day, “as we would no longer be meeting every week to attend classes. We were a community that had come together for five years, and after ordination we would go our separate ways.”
Today, Mary Anne considers Deacon Steve’s work at the parish and with Spirit Filled Hearts as a “team effort.” She had gone through the formation process with him, and grew with him in their Faith. She continued, “It is a privilege to serve in this capacity as a couple. The Sacrament of Marriage is very important and we can bring a lot as a couple to the diaconate. We are not a perfect couple by any means, but it is through experiencing trials in life that we are able to share and help others.”
Balancing personal and ministerial life is a challenge, she noted, and “that is why it is good to be a wife that is able to be strong enough to speak up when the balance needs to be corrected. We have to make sure that we leave time for family fun as well as responsibilities.”
She continued, “Being grandparents, parents and friends to others is important and we must make time to be with them. We need to make time for each other and always time for God. We try to pray together and we make a point of blessing each other before we leave the house.”
She said it was an honor to serve the Lord, and also a big responsibility. She said, “I want us to be instruments for Christ in all that we do. Being married to a deacon is a great blessing and it is also fun. Each day is filled with surprises and new experiences with God.”
Deborah Dubois’ husband Tom was ordained for the Diocese of Toledo in 2000. She recalled his ordination day as “like having another wedding in the family. I was proud of him. It was quite an emotional day.”
In the years since his ordination, Deacon Dubois is frequently called away for ministerial duties such as serving at Mass, teaching catechetical programs and prison ministry, and for funerals and weddings. Deacon Dubois also serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Diaconate Directors (NADD).
She believes her husband has made a positive impact on their parish, noting, ““He has a gift for preaching and teaching. He can bring the Word alive for people. When someone doesn’t understand, they talk to Tom, and you can see a light bulb going on in their heads.”
Susan Kehoe’s husband, Deacon Larry Kehoe of the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, was supportive of her husband’s decision to pursue ordination to the diaconate. Many had thought he’d made a good deacon, and “He realized he couldn’t ignore God any longer.”
She was “overwhelmed” with his 2006 ordination, and wondered, ““Should I really have signed that letter to the bishop giving my permission for his ordination?”
Today, she believes it was the right choice: “It’s been an adventure. It’s amazing to see how he’s grown in faith, and how he deals with people so well. I feel blessed to be able to share the journey with him.”
Susan has been a support for her husband’s ministry, assisting with catechetical classes and programs to prepare for marriage and parents for their children’s baptism. Her husband has played a valuable role in their parish, and is appreciated for his efforts, she believes. She said, “People tell me all the time how grateful they are for him, and how he makes a huge difference in their lives.”
Berta Calvert’s husband, Joe, was ordained a deacon for the Archdiocese of Louisville in 2008. She had seen her husband go from ardent, pro-abortion atheist to devout, pro-life Catholic during the years of their marriage, and was delighted on the day of his ordination. She said, “I thought it was a great way for him to serve the community and help the Church.”
The deacon is constantly busy with helping at Mass, teaching Bible study, working with youth and serving on the parish pro-life committee. She has learned to adjust to sharing her husband on weekends and holydays, as well as accepting that she must sit alone at Mass.
There’s also the pressure to be a good role model, she said. Like a priest, people of the parish look up to the deacon, and, by extension, his wife. She noted, “I have to be on my best behavior and be part of that model.”
Despite the difficulties, she believes her husband made an “excellent choice” in becoming a deacon. She said, “I had to learn to share him, but I don’t mind.”