The Archdiocesan Family Life Commission celebrates…
Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers of Trinidad & Tobago! This week the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission and Jubilee Women’s Ministry celebrate 19 unsung heroes; the wives of our recently ordained permanent deacons. These dedicated, inspiring wives and mothers took a moment out of their hectic schedules to talk to us about their incredible three-year journey as they supported their husbands through this process. We invite you to take a moment and share some of the snapshots into their thoughts as we introduce you to The Deacons’ Wives.
“Wherever you go I shall go, wherever you live there shall I live, your people would be my people and your God will be my God too…..” These words expressed by Ruth (Ruth 1: 16) capture the essence of the commitment made by these women to their husbands. Interestingly, many of the wives who were interviewed admit to meeting their husbands at Church-related events and together over the years, they have remained active in their parishes. It’s not surprising therefore that many of the wives interviewed admit that their husbands were approached directly by their parish priests to consider training for the diaconate. Other wives saw the advertisement in the Catholic News and encouraged their husbands to apply for consideration since they knew and understood the quiet desires of their husbands, to serve the Lord and the people of the Archdiocese.
Leila Bryan explained, “I did not object because I knew that as a very young man he wanted to be a priest but was unable to pursue that goal because he was the sole provider for his mother”. She, along with other wives, was convinced that the time was right for their husbands to make the commitment.
You may wonder how these women coped with the three years of training and how the sacrifice affected their relationships with their husbands. Because all the wives seemed to have a clear understanding and acceptance of their husbands’ call they embraced each experience and some even began to network in order to find support amongst “like-minded” couples. As Bernadette Phillips explained, “We have made a lot of new friends who are just as passionate about the kingdom as we are.” Many also admitted that they took the opportunity to be a part of the formation process by attending the classes at the Regional Seminary with their husbands and typing or editing weekly assignments and that it was this that helped them to understand what was necessary for the future. The women were also very satisfied with the growth they experienced over the last three years with regard to their relationships with their spouses. Deborah Raghunanan shared that one of the things she treasured most was “the times we spent driving to and from classes. We had the time to talk about what went on in the classes, the feelings, the sharing and things like that. It was a lot different from talking about work, home things and children things”.
When asked if they would encourage other couples to make this kind of a commitment to the Archdiocese they all agreed though some offered conditions. First and foremost, they felt that the decision should only be made after prayer and reflection. Second, the couple should be already involved in ministry of one kind or another so that each individual has a realistic idea and appreciation of the level of sacrifice expected. Third and most important, both parties must be in full agreement with the decision. Gail Antoine-Moore warned, “The wife should be prepared to jump in there and work with her husband because if she does not she will not understand the source of his joy. This will lead to her feeling very alienated and possibly resentful.” Others admitted that it takes a level of maturity to respect and support this decision since the new responsibilities also mean less time being spent at home.
As for their roles as “a deacon’s wife” they believe that a major part of their responsibility is to provide loving support, be a sounding board, a critic, a mediator between the community and the deacon if necessary and to keep their husbands grounded, reminding them that from here onwards they have the responsibility to “Believe what they read, teach what they believe and practice what they teach” as instructed by the Archbishop on the day of their ordination. They also recognise the need to live lives of good repute as expressed by Leila “….. I must also ensure that my words and actions demonstrate that I take my role as a deacon’s wife seriously and that they do not bring the permanent deaconate into disrepute.”
The strength and wisdom of these women who accepted the challenge to support their husbands on the journey to their diaconate and beyond will never be forgotten. For if it were not for the combined “yes” of each household the Archdioceses would not have the light of hope for growth and sustenance that now exists. They stand as a beacon on the road to achieving the goal of Catholic families becoming what they are as articulated by Jasmine Mathura when she shared her view that, “The marriage call to holiness sanctifies the love of husband and a wife, making evident God’s loving presence to the Church. A married deacon, with his wife and family, gives witness to the sanctity of marriage. The more they grow in mutual love, the more they give to the Christian community a model of Christ-like love, compassion, and self-sacrifice.”
Truly the deacons, their wives and their families are a treasure and a blessing to our Catholic Church! – Matisha Olivier