BE Parishioner
Vol. 1, Issue 4
An Evening with the Nickum’s
     As I approach the front door of the Nickum home the very first object that catches my eye is a
large statue of our Blessed Mother, Mary. This makes for a very comfortable greeting. Upon
knocking on the door I’m greeted by both Bill and Linda Nickum. They’re inseparable – in a
good way. That’s the biggest impression I’m left with later that evening; that Bill and Linda have
become one unit in two separate bodies. They seem to be very passionate about each other in all
that they do. As some of you may know, Bill asks Linda to read his homilies before he uses
them. He has a deep respect for her spiritual input, and when asked whom is the teacher and who
the student in their relationship, they both respond with the resolute answer that they both share
the roles of student and teacher. Bill goes into detail about how they rely on each others gifts and
talents. Each one may approach spirituality differently, but they are able to bounce ideas and
thoughts off of each other.
Although they sometimes view things  from different angles, they
humbly try
to understand each others ideas.
The  decision  to  become  a  deacon  was  not  an  easy  one  for  Bill  and  it  did  not  happen
overnight. However, for Linda it was a no-brainer. She saw Bill’s gifts early on and encouraged
him to become a deacon many years ago. At that time, Bill made the decision that he was not yet
ready. Deep down inside Bill knew he had a calling but he was not 100% sure what it was. The
call to become a deacon arose again when  Bill  and Linda  moved to Caroline County. Again
Linda, being the supportive spouse, encouraged Bill and at this point in his life he knew he was
ready to respond to the call. Now, Bill has been a deacon for almost six years. The process of
preparing to become a deacon
– called formation – wasn’t easy. It required many, many hours of
study, tests,  interviews,  meetings and social  gatherings.  It also required  the approval of the
Diocese and the Bishop, who even had to meet with Linda to ensure her full consent and support
of Bill’s ministry as a Deacon.  During much of the time that Bill spent in formation to become a
deacon, Linda was there too. As I said they’re inseparable
– one unit in two separate bodies. I
say that while knowing that in addition to his ministry as a deacon for St. Benedict/St. Elizabeth
Parish, Bill  is also away  from  home  for  long  hours working at  his full-time job.  He  is also
deeply involved in the life of the parish:  he heads up the Social Concerns committee, is highly
active with the Knights of Columbus, is a member of the RCIA Team, and participates in Parish
Leadership and Parish Council.  He is also involved in Sacramental preparation, helping couples
prepare to celebrate the sacraments of Marriage and Baptism.  I’ve left out other ministries in
which Bill is involved, such as Parish Workforce and Cemetery clean-up….there are just too
many to list them all.
Bill  and  Linda  are  so  passionate  about  their  faith,  family,  and  fortune.  Ah,  I  caught  your
attention with fortune, didn’t I?  But the fortune they treasure cannot be measured in dollars and
cents.  They consider the parish community of St. Benedict/St. Elizabeth to be their true fortune.
They truly love and admire
our community.
Both Bill and Linda grew up in Kansas. They were not high school sweethearts; in fact, they
didn’t even go to the same school. Are you ready for this?  They met on a blind date!  Neither of
them had ever been on a blind date before and really didn’t care to go on  one. But, we’re glad
they did! I was told that I can’t share about their first dinner dates or else. I wasn’t told what “or
else” would be and I don’t want to find out what “or else” is, so I’m leaving the events of their
first dinner dates out.  Both  Bill  and  Linda  grew  up  in  very  spiritual  families.  Linda recalls
praying the Rosary with her family in her youth. Bill remembers his mother being Catholic and
his father being Methodist.  He was brought up going to Catholic masses and, on occasion, his
father would go to the Catholic church instead of the Methodist church.  When I
asked  each  of  them  about  their  first  experience  of  God,  they  gave  it  some  thought  before
answering.  Bill said Jesus was like a big brother to him when he was young. A lot of kids had
imaginary  friends and he  had Jesus.  Linda said Jesus was always there. No conversion story
here! But, there is a story of conversion of oneself to sacrifice for others. And the Nickum’s have
done just that! Linda sacrifices so much of her time with Bill and he with her so that they may
serve others.
Linda has a busy schedule with our parish, too! Just look for her in the background of
many of
our parish  liturgies and events. In addition, she:  helps count  money,  is a sacristan,
is on the
Social Concerns committee (working side by side with Bill), is in the Folk Group, helps with the
environment committee, and serves as a Cantor (which, by the way, is her favorite ministry).
That is obvious … she has an unforgettable voice. My personal favorite is when she and Nina
Taylor sing the Litany of Saints. By the way,  Linda’s favorite saint is St. Therese (the “Little
Flower”) and Bill’s favorite apostle is Peter.
Finally,  I  asked  Bill  and  Linda  if  they  might  reveal  something  significant  about  their
relationship that they might feel important to pass on to you. Bill related that there was a time in
his life when he struggled with God. It was during the time that he was in Vietnam, where his
comrades died in his arms during the war. Bill never turned his back on God, but he vented his
frustrations to God:  “God, how could you let this happen?  You must be a cruel God. Maybe I
have the wrong idea about what kind of God you are?”  Bill was very bitter towards God. Upon
coming back to the U.S. and going on the “blind date” with Linda
his attitude of frustration with
God started to diminish. She helped him through his doubts and reminded him that God gave
humanity  free will  and didn’t control  those  sinning against each other.  Does  that  make  you
wonder if God set up that blind date? I guess it’s unlikely. But I do know it was those youthful
years in Linda’s life, being raised in a family that was so spiritual, that helped her to develop a
faith so strong that she was able to help a fellow man through one of his most spiritually trying
As I prepared to leave, Bill and Linda did
offer me their experience of what makes for a
lasting and loving relationship
– trust!  They shared many other things but put a lot of emphasis
on trust and how a relationship needs that to work. They seem so happy together and very jovial
about each others responses as I asked them questions during the evening. As I drove away I
realized what a great model relationship the Nickum’s have to pass on
to our community!