Somehow, I missed this last week: two terrific articles in Our Sunday Visitor about deacons — including some interviews with their wives. One couple spotlighted: Deacon Larry Kehoe and his wife Susan, friends of mine from Des Moines.
Susan Kehoe believes in the old adage that behind every great man, there is a great woman. But in her case, the saying may be modified to “behind every great deacon is a supportive deacon’s wife.”
Since her husband of nearly 38 years, Deacon Larry Kehoe, was ordained in 2006, Kehoe has humbly taken on the responsibility of standing behind him in his ministry at Christ the King Parish in their hometown of Des Moines, Iowa.
At first, Kehoe admitted, the thought of having her husband ordained a deacon was intimidating, but she knew she could not stand in the way of his calling.
“I just wanted to make sure I did not get between God and my husband,” she told Our Sunday Visitor. “I was a bit scared, but I was pretty sure that God was calling him.”
While the couple has shared responsibility in some ministries, such as jointly leading their parish’s Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Kehoe said she understands that there is a dividing line between her work as a member of the laity and her husband’s role as an ordained minister.
Still, she’s learned that many people in their parish look to her as a trusted source of advice.
“People, often women, talk to me because I am the wife of a deacon,” Kehoe said, noting that she gets questions ranging from marital problems to parenting concerns to financial issues.
“You name it, I have heard it,” she said, adding that while she attended her husband’s formation classes, there are no specific programs in her diocese designed to prepare deacons’ wives for such situations.
“Mostly, I just listen, pray and suggest spiritual books and offer support,” she said. “Those who need spiritual help, I direct to my husband, another deacon or our pastor.”
But first and foremost, Kehoe told OSV, her responsibility is being there for her husband, who often puts in 12-hour work days and spends many evenings tending to his diaconal duties. Kehoe said she pitches in by handling the more mundane tasks, such as helping him keep track of appointments, fielding calls that come in while he is at work or even standing in for him when he can’t attend a meeting.
“I am, in some ways, his executive assistant,” she said.
But Kehoe also serves as a source of emotional support and constant encouragement.
“I remind him that he’s always a deacon, even when he’s at work,” she said. “A deacon is called to bring the Gospel and the Eucharist everywhere he goes. Sometimes, but not often, he needs a gentle reminder.”
Susan also has her very own blog (featured on my blog roll to the right). Check that out, too.