Deacons live busy lives, working at jobs to secure their financial stability or in retirement to take on other roles, but always in the public eye.
Most deacons enter their lives of ministry as one half of a married couple, with their lives of service shared by those closest to them — their wives. While they do not seek to be recognized, they play important roles as part of the couple, both emotionally and intellectually.
Diane Lanter has been part of a deacon couple since 1997 when her husband was ordained April 19, 1997. She pointed out that the 1997 diaconate class will have been ordained 19 years on April 19 this year.
And their road to the diaconate began more than five years earlier with the then-required ministry formation program with the late Irene Dill and Msgr. James Margason.
In all, the Lanters spent seven years preparing to begin their respective roles in the diaconate.
Diane went to almost all of the classes even though their youngest child was only 5 years old.
With four children that often required a parent in attendance at sports games or academic recognitions, Diane represented the parents.
However, even before talking about the diaconate, the couple had been involved in Marriage Encounter and had attended national conventions.
Their road to the diaconate began in their late 20s, Diane said, but the couple missed the cut off date for the earlier program.
They continued their roles in Marriage Encounter and knew they would be involved in ministry, just not the diaconate at that time.
They attended ministry formation and continued to minister as a couple. “We decided we would do things no one else would do,” she said.
As a nurse in hospice, she realized her “job” was more ministry than occupation. Although she took on other jobs, she eventually returned to hospice work where her husband often accompanied her on “hospice calls.”
As the couple continued to study for his ordination, Diane said, “there’s no way to completely prepare for the intricate parts of the diaconate that become all consuming.”
Diane assists the deacon with faith formation, for various meetings for organizations, and the couple continues to prepare couples for marriage and parents for baptisms.
For weddings, Diane becomes the “church wedding planner,” she said, describing herself as “more the nuts and bolts” part of the team.
Because their children grew up with their parents studying and ministering, they became used to all of the intricacies of the ministry.
Her most difficult time, she said, was when their daughter, Monica was married. While Deacon Robert Lanter witnessed the marriage and played a significant role in the wedding, Diane was “sitting in the pew alone.”
As part of an active and loving couple, so involved in ministering together, this was one time when she felt alone.
However, the joy and fulfillment of the many other ministry opportunities continue to fulfill Diane’s life. She and her husband attend national conferences, listening and learning as they go.
“The more I know, the more I can help” others she said. “We complement each other in the way we listen or learn at the conferences. We’re in this together.”
Setting aside time for them to pray as a couple and grow spiritually has been the best part about being the wife of a deacon.
The couple has been praying together since the days when they were “courting,” Diane said.
“We said the rosary in our homes to remind us of the other one” before the couple was married.
Faith has been an important part of their lives, Diane said, and continues to be.
Being supportive of her husband has always been a role she relished, but it is enhanced and deepened since ordination.
They often minister together, but they always take time to pray together. They continue their partnership as a couple, ministering to each other as well as others.