By Jeff Brumley
Florida Times Union
The Revs. Davette and Richard Turk: God and love helped them overcome the odds
If there ever seemed to be an impossible romance, it is that of the Revs. Davette and Richard Turk.
For starters, he was a Catholic priest and she a Catholic nun when they first met in 1973. As such they were both forbidden to marry.
Making matters even more difficult, their first encounter went badly when Richard asked Davette to prepare a ministry document for him.
"He said, 'Just type it up.' I said, 'There's a typewriter, type it yourself,' " said Davette, 76. "He couldn't believe it. Smoke was coming out of his ears."
"I didn't like her," Richard, 70, added.
But over time they overcame that difficult first encounter and grew closer as they worked together in social justice ministry in Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton, N.J.
"I realized I was in love with her, and I knew I could not love her and remain a Roman Catholic priest," Richard said.
Davette realized the same. Both left Catholicism for the Episcopal Church, where Richard's ordination was accepted. Davette was ordained a priest a decade after their wedding in September 1975.
"We both maintained our vows of celibacy until we were married," Richard Turk added.
They've raised two kids and have served parishes in the Jacksonville-based Episcopal Diocese of Florida since the 1980s. And though retired from active church ministry, Richard helps lead services at the Church of Our Savior in Mandarin and teaches college courses. Davette is known for her interfaith and race relations work in the city and offers spiritual direction to other clergy.
For those who are curious, Richard said no, they do not hear each other's confessions, and they are not each other's personal pastors.
"And we don't throw Scripture at each other" during arguments, he said.
But they do worship together and pray together every day, which Davette said has helped stoke the flames of love during their 34 years of marriage.
Which is why Davette said she's expecting royal treatment on Valentine's Day.
"We are as romantic, if not more romantic, than when we first got married," she said.