Vocations: We are one: the unexpected journey of a deacon’s wife

By Philis Esquivel
Guest Columnist

God calls us to make choices according to his specific path for each of us. To discover his path and respond “yes” is to journey toward personal fulfillment in God. God chose the vocation of marriage for me –– to serve as a wife and mother. But I never expected his path would include the call to serve as a deacon’s wife.
The first time I met Jessie, I knew he was the one for me. He was not only handsome, but also quite charming, especially in how he would converse easily with everyone, including my parents, which endeared him to me even more. 
In high school he went to seminary, so before we even had a chance to date I had to let him go –– or at least let go of the idea that he was the one for me. After a year he returned, and although we remained friends, we each went on with our lives. Eventually we did date, and finally my dream came true: we married. Happy and in love, following the path God had set us on, we began our journey together.
After 25 years of marriage, Jessie heard the call serve as a deacon. My response was, “Yes, Lord, I give him to you!” As I said yes, my heart filled with excitement, joy, fear and finally peace –– tears of joy ran down my cheeks. I was ready to travel this new path in our journey together, trusting this was God’s further plan for us.
After Jessie was accepted, we began our formation. I say “our” because wives were expected to attend all sessions, one entire weekend per month. While some wives could attend only parts of the weekend, I not only attended, but completed course work, too. What a blessing. We were further blessed to have our sons’ strong support throughout formation –– they even joined us in summer family sessions.
Meeting monthly, we couples grew close, especially the wives. Saturday evenings, deacon wives would share life experiences, and we would ask questions, share concerns and always pray for our husbands, families and one another. This sharing helped us find and understand our place in formation and discern our call as future deacon wives. 
During formation, some wives felt called to serve their children, others their parish. Others felt the call only after their husband’s ordination. Jessie and I served together in marriage preparation, couples counseling, home blessings and hospital visits. Whenever Jessie would pray, I would stand beside him and feel God’s grace fill the room: the two sacraments of service –– Matrimony and Holy Orders –– combining to enliven Christ’s presence, drawing us and the couples and families we ministered to closer in God’s love. 
Married 49 years now, and Jessie a deacon for 19, we continue to serve –– sometimes together, sometimes apart. But we always choose to serve one another first, heeding our marriage vows that the two of us remain one. Whenever Jessie serves on the altar during Mass, he searches the pews, and when he finds me, he smiles, which fills my heart with love. I thank God for the path he led us down –– the foundational path of marriage, and the further path of being a deacon couple ... all we had to do was say yes.

Sessions explore call to the diaconate

Information sessions exploring the vocational call, the qualities of a man suitable for formation, the church’s discernment process, the formation program, diaconal ministry, and implications on marriage will be offered in English and Spanish from 2 to 5 p.m. on the following dates and locations: 
Feb. 14 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Temple 
March 13 at St. John the Evangelist Parish in San Marcos
April 10 at the Pastoral Center in Austin
Please note: A pastor’s written consent is required to attend any session.
For more information about diaconate formation, call (512) 949-2459.