Deacon Joe Pusateri vests his son, Frank, during a transitional diaconal ordination Mass. Courtesy photo

The Uniqueness of My Situation

The amazing things that happen when you invite God into your life

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Recently, I was approached by a parishioner after Mass telling me what a unique position I was in by being able to serve with my husband. That particular day, I had served as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. After Communion, I returned the ciborium to the sanctuary to give to my husband. The parishioner had noted that it’s not every couple that can do this and then told me how blessed I was.

As I reflected on this later, I considered the uniqueness of my situation. Our family is truly blessed as we have all served together throughout the years. When our children were young, our involvement in the Church grew. After our eldest son began school, I served as a catechist. Much of my ministry centered around my children as I also volunteered for their religious education classes and vacation Bible camp. When I became the vacation Bible camp director, it became a family affair. My younger children participated in the camp and my eldest son became a volunteer. Eventually, all three children volunteered, even after I stepped down as director.

In the meantime, my husband had become a lector as well as a catechist. It was during this time that people began to tell him that he should consider becoming a deacon. Our children were still young, and he wanted to wait until they were older. As the years passed, our children began to serve at Mass as altar servers, lectors and extraordinary ministers of holy Communion. At that time, I considered our family blessed. Fortunately, our parish would schedule family members to serve at the same Mass for convenience. When we were all scheduled to serve at the same time, friends would jokingly call it the Pusateri Mass.

Family Support

When my husband decided to apply to the diaconate, our children were aware and supportive. Obviously, service, especially in the Church, was something that was important to our family. It seemed to be almost a natural progression. Although this was something that my husband was being called to, it would affect all of us. This was a “call within a call.” Joe’s first call had been to be a husband and a father, but now he was being called to be an ordained permanent deacon.

One of our main concerns was how this would affect our marriage and family. This was a huge commitment of time. We decided early on to be intentional regarding our priorities. We wanted to be sure to create a balance in our lives. While we may not always be successful in this, we try. We also trust that God is guiding us along the way.

Another Dimension

While my husband was in formation, our eldest son, Frank, began to discern the priesthood and entered seminary. This added another dimension to the uniqueness of our family. Of course, every family is unique in its own way. God willing, Frank will be ordained a transitional deacon this spring. God has truly blessed our family as we will have two deacons in the family. It is amazing what God will do when you invite him into your life!

One thing I have learned throughout this journey is that God calls each of us as individuals. As we grow in our relationship with him, we realize our true identities as his beloved children. Each of us is called individually to a mission, but we serve together in community. In our case, we have been called to diakonia (service). We are called to embody Christ the Servant, and we are truly blessed.

Maria Pusateri is a spiritual director in the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois and is currently pursuing a degree in theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio

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Deacons and Their Wives

“A married deacon, with his wife and family, gives witness to the sanctity of marriage. … The married deacon must always remember that through his sacramental participation in both vocational sacraments, first in Matrimony and again in Holy Orders, he is challenged to be faithful to both. With integrity he must live out both sacraments in harmony and balance. The wife of a deacon should be included with her husband, when appropriate, in diocesan clergy and parochial staff gatherings. A deacon and his wife, both as a spiritual man and woman and as a couple, have much to share with the diocesan bishop and his priests about the Sacrament of Matrimony.” — The National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons (Second Edition), No. 74.

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