Bill & Terri White
Editor Laurie Hallstrom of the West River Catholic interviewed deacon candidates for podcasts (see schedule at right). The men are preparing to be ordained a permanent deacon on Oct. 8. Here is a partial transcript of her talking with Bill White, a parishioner and Pastoral Assistant at Christ the King Church in Porcupine on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
WRC: Can you tell me about your wife and family?
Bill: I’m married to my lovely wife Terri, we have five kids and a lot of grandkids.
WRC: Didn’t you have a military career?
Bill: I was a member of the South Dakota National Guard for over 38 years, almost 39. I worked full time as a maintenance supervisor for over 31 years.
WRC: Can you tell me what you do at your church?
Bill: I’m the pastor assistant, so I’m the one in the office. I do home visits and I do some maintenance — mow some of the cemeteries a few times a year. I do whatever needs to be done. And, I prepare for the liturgy.
WRC: Let’s start at the beginning of your life. Where did you grow up?
Bill: I grew up in Rapid City. I was a cradle Catholic. I went to St Isaac Jogues when it was down by Rapid Creek before the (June 9, 1972) flood. Growing up I was an altar boy very early in life, age 7, and I thought I was a professional mourner. They would always check me out of school for funerals.
WRC: Was there a moment that you clearly felt the Lord acting or speaking with you?
Bill: You know, I had a chance to reflect on that during our canonical retreat and I kind of did a lifelong examen. I didn’t concentrate on where the Lord wasn’t present, but more on where he was present in some of the people who touched me throughout my life. … He was forming me my whole life. A guy doesn’t realize that early on. I would say I would never see me doing this, even 10 years ago, but when I went back and started writing down the names and some of the things that happened in my life, I could see that God was with me and he was forming me.
WRC: So, when did you start thinking about the diaconate?
Bill: It was in March of 2013. I was at work and I was on my computer and for some reason I checked into the diocese website and it went to a Canku Wakan retreat. I’d never been to one so I started getting interested and for some reason it went straight to a page about Deacon “Heavy” Garnet. It gave me a story about him, and his near fatal accident that changed his life. I could really see myself in that story. That’s when it hit me, so I went home and told Teri “I think I’m supposed to become a deacon.”
WRC: Is there anything you’re looking forward to once you are ordained a deacon? What would you like to do?
Bill: I just want to do what God has intended for me. I am sure I’m in the right spot and this is where he wants me. I continue to pray and grow, and my formation just begins after I am ordained. I’ll look for direction.