MADISON — If all goes as planned a year from now, Bruce M. Siket will be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. It will be a gift from Anastasia Siket, whose spirit will be present at the ceremony.
Siket, a 1972 graduate of Madison Area Memorial High School, was ordained as a deacon by Bishop Richard Malone earlier this month in Portland. He is on summer assignment at St. Louis Parish in Fort Kent, and has one more year at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.
All of this happened, Siket said, because of a conversation he had with his dying wife.
He and Anastasia were living in Millinocket, both involved with St. Peter’s Church in East Millinocket and both employed at Great Northern Paper Co.
Just prior to a second, unsuccessful surgery on her brain tumor, the couple talked frankly about what he would do when she was gone.
"Her comment was that she thought I would become a priest," Siket said recently from the Madison home of his mother, Irene Siket. "She had a vision that I would become a priest, after she passed. After that, I couldn’t help but think about it."
Anastasia Siket died in October 2001.
At her funeral, which also marked the couple’s 20th wedding anniversary, Father Robert Vaillancourt, who had not even talked to Siket’s wife about her vision, provided Siket with another profound moment.
"He pointed to his Roman Catholic collar, and he looked at me and he said, ‘when are you going to get one of these?’ I’m not making this up."
Driven, Siket approached the Catholic Diocese of Portland about a priestly vocation. He was advised to allow a year for the grieving process.
Times were tough all-around. Siket had a good job as an engineer at Great Northern, but the paper mill was going through bankruptcy and about to close.
"I tried to stay busy," Siket said. "I was out of work and on unemployment. The down time was tough."
Siket decided, as he put it, that it was "time to go for it."
He was accepted for a master’s program designed for second-career vocations at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass. He already had a degree in physics from the University of Maine.
The first year back in academics was "a little scary," Siket admitted. He wondered if he could take the rigorous course, live with 60 other men in a big dormitory and face a life of celibacy.
"After you come to grips with that, you move closer to God, hopefully," he said.
Siket did hospital ministries, and will serve as a deacon at local parishes until he becomes a priest.