By Andrea Erdman
I am married to a Roman Catholic priest.
I understand the confusion. There are very few of us priest wives out there, and even fewer have small children. Most Catholics have no idea there are any married priests in the world at all. My husband and I have been married for 15 years. He was an ordained Episcopal priest for about 11 years before following a call to leave the Episcopal church and come home to the Catholic Church. We came into full communion with the Catholic Church last year through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, in accordance with Pope Benedict XVI’s “Anglicanorum Coetibus”. Fr. Jonathan and I have four delightful children together, and one more on the way.
Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, I have assembled a collection of moments of gratitude from my own meditation and contributions from other Roman Catholic clergy wives of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
1. For the parishioner who offers to wash and fold laundry for a family of six when I have been sick every day in pregnancy. She does this when I’m especially ill and my husband is away for a week at Clergy Assembly, and I’m moved to the point of tears.
2. For the Ordinariate mass, lifting my soul to Heaven with its reverent language and echo of the ancient celebration of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
3. For markers, paper, and church toys occupying tiny hands of my children so I can pray during mass.
4. For our parishioners, who often work as hard as we do to evangelize the Catholic faith, extend service to the poor and needy, and give generously their talent and treasure to our tiny parish. Without every parishioner giving everything they can to the Church in the name of Christ Jesus, we could not succeed in our ambitious church plant.
5. For Fr. Bill Hammer, who welcomes our children to St. Margaret Mary Catholic School on a stewardship basis. Upon hearing of our family’s sacrifice to come into the Catholic Church, he reached out to us and offered to educate them in exchange for what our family could afford to give in stewardship.
6. For Archbishop Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville, who gave my husband a job to support our family.
7. For St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, who gives our tiny parish a beautiful place to worship and supportive friends to share our ambitious evangelistic ministry.
8. For Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, and Bishop Lopes, without whom my husband could not be ordained into the Holy Catholic Church.
9. For fast food delivery and carry out on days when our sleepy family pours into our home after late night mass, and the anonymous donor who put $50 in my husband’s mailbox to finance our feast.
10. For the Christmas well-wishers who won’t be giving my husband this suit for Christmas.
11. For all those who understand how a very ill pregnant mom raising four children with a husband who works three jobs might have a home that looks like we are losing a game of Jumanji.
12. For our liturgical MCs (Master of Ceremonies) who lovingly redirect my scatterbrained 7 year old “boat boy” in the mass much like paddles in a pinball game. What would we do without you?
13. For our friends and family who aren’t Catholic, yet love us even when they don’t quite understand us.
14. For ginger, Zofran, and Ritz crackers, because they will help me get through Thanksgiving with guests while pregnant.
15. “Parishioners that love us and our kids like their own family.” (from Elizabeth Duncan.)
16. “The gift of fraternity with many priests which offers our children such a beautiful window into the church, vocation, holiness, etc.” (from Kathi Kramer)
17. “Grateful my husband is still alive is obviously #1, and
18. Grateful for my kids and their relationship with each other and my husband and I, and
19. Grateful for our Catholic community that took us in when we moved here, both within our Ordinariate community and the diocese as a whole.
20. And …. at night if Matt (husband) can’t join us for prayers, they go and find their daddy and ask him for their blessing. Hearing “ok, Latin or English?” “Latin!” Then hearing their little voices try to say “Et cum spiritu tuo” is seriously sweet! I think they like those nights better than when he just joins us and incorporates the blessing into the end of the shortened Compline I do with the kids, as it’s only for them! (Which ties back to being seriously grateful he’s still alive so that the boys can have these experiences!)” (#17-20 from Minerva Welling Venuti)
21. “I’m grateful for the 38 years of marriage to my husband, John, a man of God, a wonderful husband, an attentive father, and a humble servant of Christ in his priestly ministry to all of our congregations. Both of us are so thankful that we have been received into the Barque of Peter, into Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and for the Church’s Magisterium which guards and protects the spiritual treasures of our Christian faith.” (from Jane Hodgins)
22. For Catechesis of the Good Shepherd children’s ministry, which enables me to experience our Catholic faith anew through the eyes of children.
23. For my (super-cool) daughter who asked to wear a chapel veil to church, and didn’t care if no other kids wore them in her more modern Catholic school.
24. For hypoallergenic sweet-smelling incense raising our spirits to Heaven.
25. For my son who shouts “Amen. High five!” with his brother when he finishes his daily prayers.
26. “I’m grateful 35 years of marriage and happy!
27. I am thankful for health! Work that I enjoy! I am thankful for my children and my family! Thankful for friends! Thankful for all my sister and brothers in Christ!
28. So very thankful for the joy and peace God brings even during trials and the blessings he has bestowed upon us! Thank you Father, lord Jesus, Holy Spirit and your heavenly family! Amen!” (#26-28 from Cathy O’Neil Baaten)
29. For my fellow Ordinariate clergy wives, dear sisters in Christ, who offer support, understanding, and encouragement to be daily converted to Christ through our Catholic faith.
30. For our home, which has become a chapel of sorts for people seeking Christ, where I can spend time in reflective prayer with altar candles (from my long-deceased grandfather), crucifix and icons in my socks and pajamas.