Name: Debbie King
Parish: St. Patrick Church
City: North Little Rock
Family: One son, Mark; three daughters, Michelle, Denise and Paula; 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren
Why you want to know Debbie: Debbie King has been involved in RCIA for 37 years, currently at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock, in addition to being on the diaconate formation team and an advocate to the diocesan tribunal, working with English- and Vietnamese-speakers. King worked alongside her late husband, Deacon Butch King, to help members of the Air Force in their faith during Deacon King’s time of service and to help Catholics throughout central Arkansas in their faith journey. King continues to honor her husband’s memory through her work on the diaconate formation team and volunteering at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas Medical Center after his death in 2020. At UAMS, King visits with patients, walks with them and brings them snacks, all while supporting them as they navigate their medical journey.
What feeds you spiritually?
Adoration. St. Patrick's has adoration before daily Mass and Sunday Mass. So there's an opportunity for an hour of adoration and Benediction before daily Mass. But adoration has been a part of my spiritual life even when I was at (Our Lady of) Good Counsel (Church in Little Rock) for 10 years. I’d had an adoration hour for four or five years at (Immaculate Conception) when Butch got sick. So there was a pause and then I've always picked it up. Adoration is my go-to place.
How can Catholics find strength in the face of adversity?
When Butch's disease came to us (in June 2017), we accepted it as God's gift, that God trusted us with his illness, and that he would be faithful to us, whatever the outcome. So we always saw it as a gift. … And so Butch smiled every day. Nobody ever saw him without a smile. … And he was like, “We're here. This is what God needs us to do today, to smile and love and thank the people that are helping us.” And it's because we both came to that point through our discussions about what was before us, what potentially was before us, and how we were going to get through it and maintain as much of our family unity as we could. Leukemia and transplants pull you away from the public. It's the same with widowhood — it’s God's gift. It's God's plan.
Why do you stay active in diaconate formation even after Butch’s death?
Butch was ordained Nov. 23, 2012, and he wanted to give back. God had given him a great gift through his ordination, and he had said if there was another class, would I consider coming with him, that we together could be asked to be team members. Well, as it turned out, we received a call from Father Erik (Pohlmeier) one day (in 2016) asking if we would be team members in an upcoming class. Butch already knew the answer. … He died in 2020, so he didn't complete that class. I did. I had asked Bishop Taylor in one of our meetings with him, if (Butch) did not survive the disease, would I be allowed to stay on the team? And so the bishop honored that at the time of (Butch’s) death, that I could stay on the team. When this new class, the one we've just started, got underway, I stayed on. … The bishop said yes, that I could remain on the team. I do a lot of the logistics stuff. … I make all the lists, keep up with all the attendance, all the homework. I lead small groups. … I work with the chefs that we have that cook all our meals, because I have a food service background and maintain all the supplies.
— Katie Zakrzewski
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