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Returning God's Gifts - Woman's service to continue

Woman's service to continue

By Tim McNeil
Returning God's Gifts

Norma Bostwick found herself in an unusual situation recently – the Archdiocese of Omaha deacon community was washing her feet rather than the other way around.

Bostwick, 81, retired earlier this year from her position as hospitality coordinator for the permanent diaconate, a position she held for 12 years.

The community threw a lavish retirement party the first Friday in February to celebrate her years of dedicated service.

Bostwick didn't have to do anything but show up, eat the five-star main course prepared by Father Rodney Adams, director of the permanent diaconate and pastor of St. Rose and St. Bridget parishes, and keep from blushing at the favorable things her guests had to say about her.

Bostwick said she was nervous the day of her farewell party. "I was worried the room wasn't going to be set up in time and that there wouldn't be enough food for everyone to eat," she said.

As hospitality coordinator, it was always Bostwick's responsibility to make sure arrangements were handled correctly. And the events she planned were no small affairs – receptions for newly installed lectors and acolytes and their families, candidacy receptions, Beginning Weekend gatherings, and the annual reception for newly ordained deacons and their families and guests. By all accounts, the events went off like clockwork.

Bostwick's history of serving the diaconate community is bittersweet.

In September of 1992, she and her husband, Buzz, completed a year of diaconate formation. The decision to enter formation was an easy one. She and Buzz had been involved in every conceivable apostolate at St. Bernard parish. Much of their married life was spent serving the church.

On July 31, 1993, the Bostwicks celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Life was good.

The next day, Buzz died of a heart attack.

The life that she knew was turned upside down – her soul mate was gone and the diaconate formation she enjoyed so much had come to a startling end.

The Bostwicks' classmates did not let her get away so easily. Led by then-director Father Tom Adams, she was invited back to finish her studies. Her return marked the beginning of her career as hospitality coordinator.

Her retirement party wasn't the first time the deacon community reciprocated Bostwick's faithful service.

When she decided to move to west Omaha three years ago, nine deacons showed up with a truck and moved her belongings across town.

When she broke her sternum and ribs in a car accident last fall, she was showered with cards, phone calls, and visits from the community.

"The deacon community is very loving," Bostwick said. "I am so proud of the work they do."

Bostwick said her association with the diaconate community has changed her life. She said she has been especially blessed by her relationship with the formation directors with the same last name.

"Father Tom Adams and Father Rodney Adams are the best guys in the world," she said. "They love me and I love them. Father Tom was there to help me through Buzz's death and invited me back to the community. Father Rodney accepted me right away when he took over as director. He's such a loving and dear man."

Retirement won't keep Bostwick away from the deacon community. She said she couldn't stay away if she tried. When there's an event to be planned, she'll help if her services are needed.

Until then, she plans to golf this summer. She has taken up water aerobics. She'll stay involved with the deacon's widow group that she formed. She'll continue serving her growing parish, St. Patrick's in Elkhorn. Her five sons, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren also will occupy her time.

No one should worry if Norma Bostwick will have enough to do. There are plenty of feet to wash.

Tim McNeil is a staff member of the Archdiocese of Omaha's Office of Stewardship and Development.

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