Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Clergy couples: Overcoming the odds to find mutual understanding and love

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.

1 comment:

Marcella Paliekara said...

Thanks for sharing the story of this relationship success. I write a blog The Apostles Wives Club Blog at . I am also married to a priest and started my blog in 2008 to connect with other women married to priests. However, I didn’t hear form wives, but from women in secret relationships with priests. I found that many women who get involved with priest do not have the experience that you have described here. In fact, there are a lot of sad stories out there and a lot of women who are begging for help and some that get angry when they get it. It has been difficult sometimes to stay with the blog because it isn’t about beautiful relationships, or how to stay in the relationships, but it is about how to leave a secret relationship.
So,I also started a website Secret Lover No More at , so that I could stop blogging, but it looks like I still need to blog to get the word out about my website. If there are women out there who are not happy being a secret lover, tell them to stop by my blog or website. Maybe they will find some answers and/or find strength in knowing they are not alone.