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‘The Role of the Deacon’s Wife Is as Unique as the Women Who Fill That Role’


Kathy Petersen

Wife of Deacon Aaron Petersen, St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Hillsdale

I attended Hillsdale College, where I met my husband Aaron and received a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1995. I received a BS in nursing at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1996. My nursing career over the last 26 years has included obstetrics, NICU, education and informatics. I recently returned to school and completed a master of science in nursing with family nurse practitioner certification. I am currently working as a nurse practitioner in a busy pediatric practice in Hillsdale. I am also a member of the Steering Committee for the Diocese of Lansing Council of Catholic Nurses.

My husband and I were married in 1996, and have eight children and two grandchildren.

The role of the deacon’s wife is as unique as the women who fill that role. My participation as a deacon’s wife has changed over the years as our family has evolved. As our children have become older, I have had the opportunity to participate in a more active role in ministry. Aaron and I have given talks on marriage and family, and we recently ran a retreat on vocations and mission. I often attend meetings and weddings of the couples he counsels prior to marriage. We try to make connections with younger couples and families through gatherings and hospitality.

My position at The Pediatric Place gives me the opportunity to interact with young women and young mothers frequently, and I pray that I am setting a good example of a faithful Catholic wife and mother.

My commitment to my vocations, as wife, mother, nurse practitioner and deacon’s wife, is strengthened by the rosary and my core group of best friends who have been praying with me for the last 16 years. I find the most comfort and strength in the joyful mysteries, as they speak to accepting my vocation and finding friends to pray with me along the way. The graces received from praying the rosary have been timely and abundant.

Linda Blondin

Wife of Deacon Larry Blondin, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Fenton

I grew up in a family that fostered my love of God and the practice of my Catholic faith. Larry and I have been married for 46 years. We have been blessed with four children, their spouses and 14 grandchildren. After working in health care for over 20 years, I retired when the Lord placed a desire in my heart to spend more of my time helping others draw close to him. This led me to involvement in various ministries at my parish and eventually to pursue training in spiritual direction and inner healing prayer ministry. These days, I spend my time providing individual spiritual direction and facilitating spiritual formation courses and inner healing prayer sessions.

Since my husband entered formation to the diaconate, I have felt my foremost calling is to support him as he serves God’s people.

We are involved in ministry together as parish coordinators for preparation for the sacrament of matrimony, which involves accompanying engaged couples as they prepare for the vocation of marriage. We also meet with individuals who desire prayer for inner healing.

My aspiration to be involved in the ministry of marriage preparation arises from my awareness of how vital a Christ-centered marriage is. Getting to know the engaged couples, meeting with and forming relationships with them, seeing them enter into relationships with mentor couples and our faith community is what I enjoy most about the ministry.

I find the opportunity to assist couples in enhancing their readiness for the sacrament of matrimony and their relationship with the Lord very fulfilling.

The Lord seems to have gifted me with a heart for his people and an ability to attentively listen and encourage them. I enjoy hearing about and helping others recognize what God is doing in their lives. I try to use these gifts for his purposes.

My commitment to these ministries is sustained through prayer. I enjoy taking advantage of educational opportunities related to these ministries.

My enthusiasm is sustained by the positive results I see as we work with the Lord.

Susan Strouse

Wife of Deacon Rob Strouse, Catholic Community of St. Jude in DeWitt

Rob and I are high school sweethearts, and in December 2021 we celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary. We have one son, Father Anthony Strouse, who is pastor of St. Pius X and St. Matthews in Flint; a married daughter and son-in-law, Amanda and Dan Surdenik who live in the Grand Rapids area with their two daughters; and a daughter and son-in-law, Allison and Tom Spoonster, who live in Central Oregon and are expecting their first child in July.

I have my PhD in nursing with a focus in nursing education, and I work as an associate professor and director of the Center for Nursing Research at Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof College of Nursing in Grand Rapids. I work part-time in Grand Rapids, and part-time remotely from home. I love teaching online and mentoring students and other faculty in their research, while conducting my own qualitative research on professional identity and the culture of nursing. I also help coordinate our study abroad in Ghana and look forward to restarting that learning option, God willing, in 2022.

One way I participate with Rob in his diaconal ministry is when I serve as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist or lector at our parish. We try to coordinate schedules so we serve at the same Mass. We work together on our parish’s marriage ministry team and meet with engaged couples as they start their marriage preparation journey. We have also begun to mentor couples in the diaconal formation program of the diocese. We coordinate a small faith-sharing group together. This group is like family to us, and we love our time with them.

Working with engaged couples helps renew our marriage as well, as we think back to our engaged and newly married days and share stories of our married life with the couples. Our small faith group helps both of us grow in our faith and we really enjoy meeting with them on a regular basis. We pray with and for each other, which is vital. When we combine the graces of both vocational sacraments, some pretty wonderful things happen for both of us, our ministries and the Church.

Victoria Elena Arteaga

Wife of Deacon Omar Odette, Holy Redeemer Parish in Burton

I was born in Flint to parents originally from Texas, the fourth of nine children in a very Mexican, very Catholic household. We were always going somewhere to help because my parents were so active in our local Hispanic community. My father worked for General Motors, trying hard to support our big family.

I studied at Mott Community College, the University of Michigan and Cooley Law School. I worked for General Motors, where I became an electrician and eventually met my husband, Deacon Omar Odette. I was no longer a practicing Catholic when we met. I am grateful that God sent Omar, who brought me back to the Catholic Church. We have four children between us: Antonio, Alexander, David and Melissa.

I currently head the International Affairs Center, a small nonprofit that offers translation and immigration services. I volunteer with VITA, a free tax program.

I volunteer with my husband at Holy Redeemer Outreach. We distribute food together at least once a week. We also do grant work together. Grants have helped us buy food and personal needs items, and pay bills for the disenfranchised Genesee County residents who did not qualify for unemployment or stimulus funding. I also really enjoy serving at Mass.

It’s important to be welcoming while gathering information for our programs, so I try to take time to chat with parishioners. Being bilingual means that I’m able to help Spanish speakers in need. Some of the grant work we do at Holy Redeemer is aimed at helping this struggling group. My writing skills are useful working on grant writing or helping with paperwork or meetings when Spanish speakers need assistance. We have even begun an English class for Spanish speakers for parents whose children participate in religious education at Holy Redeemer.

My parents taught me that I have a responsibility to help others in my community, in the hope that they will go on to help others. Meeting someone new who needs help always inspires me to take action. Knowing that you can make a difference in someone’s life gives you a great feeling of self-worth. God blesses us with opportunities every day by bringing people into our lives that might need us.