The following story appeared in the December 3 Idaho Catholic Register.
By Ludee Vermaas
For the Idaho Catholic Register
It was August of 2010, my first day in “Servant School.” My husband Ted and I were in Moscow to join what was then known as the Deacon and Lay Minister Formation Program for our Diocese.
Nine couples were present for this first year of discernment. I was filled with anticipation, eager to meet the other wives of these men who were exploring the call to serve as permanent deacons.
The wives bonded right away through the shared experience of strong faith involved in this emerging process of diaconate formation. We wanted to be present to our husbands as they began the journey toward ordination.
During formation weekend classes that first year, wives typically met during one of the sessions for prayer led by the late Mary Kulleck as well as candid discussions about our reactions and feelings during the formation process.
We enjoyed listening to wives from other years’ classes share their perspectives. Through this interaction, we got to know the wives of the deacon candidates from other classes. I always felt I was not alone, and could easily ask someone questions to calm any anxieties about what was to come next.
After our husbands were ordained, wives continued to connect during the annual deacon retreats when wives were invited.
The current workload of many permanent deacons has been a heavy one. This pastoral work can be incredibly stressful for the families of deacons, and this burden most often takes a toll on the wives, who may have to pick up the load for the husbands with family affairs. Whenever we support the wives of our deacons, we are providing support to our deacons as well.
In 2017, the current Director of the Permanent Diaconate, Deacon Bob Barros Bailey, asked Bobbi Dominick to be the coordinator of the newly formed “Wives and Widows of Deacons” ministry. Dominick had worked for the Diocese, and had been pastoral associate for ministry at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. The wife of Deacon Tom Dominick, her role was to coordinate communication with the wives of all retired and active deacons, as well as deacon widows still residing in the Diocese.
Now Dominick is preparing to focus on other ways to serve our church. Deacon Barros Bailey asked me last July to consider taking over this role. I had to pray about it, because Dominick leaves very big shoes for anyone to fill.
Dominick maintained a current database of all wives and widows of deacons in our Diocese, planned and led a breakout session during the annual Deacon Retreat, and coordinated all the planning for an annual retreat for wives and widows of Deacons. She also created both an email group, and a Facebook page group to communicate with wives and widows on important events such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries, ordinations, prayer appeals and death announcements.
Could I take on this role, I wondered, considered all that was happening in my life.
I am on year two from retiring from full-time work, and started adjusting to my new daily routines, which now includes caring for our baby grandson, and consulting work in early education. I regard both opportunities as blessings.
My other strong interest is partnering with my husband to be the hands and feet of Jesus at our parish, Risen Christ Catholic Community in Boise.
Through prayer and discernment, I eventually agreed to take on this new role beginning in January. I ask for prayers that my work in this role will continue to help our wives and widows of deacons grow spiritually, socially, and emotionally, using compassionate, clear and prompt communication.
I am acutely aware of the critical role our deacons serve in ministering to the Church today. When wives of deacons are supported in these areas, our deacons will, in turn, be accompanied by their wives in their servant roles. And, also important, widows of deacons will be connected to other widows and wives, who share a strong common bond as partners of these amazing, humble church servants.
If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.