Veola Martinez Burchett has been the Marriage and Family Life Director for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City for 25 years. She got the job because Bishop Weigand (now retired) and Msgr. Bob Bussen (Fr. Bob), the Vicar General decided she was best for the job. They did give her a choice—she could meet with the Bishop to talk about it Monday at 10 a.m., or Thursday at 3 p.m. At the time she was a full time homemaker with a background in business. After talking it over with her husband, Ken, she decided to try it for a few years. On her first day, Fr. Bob handed her the necessary papers to fill out and told her she was now a member of some organization called the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Family Life Directors and she should find out when and where their next conference was being held.
Through NACFLM Veola learned how to develop and implement programs that previously hadn’t been available in her diocese. Some of her favorites are a) the establishment and training of Bereavement support groups in almost all parishes. And the Annual Marriage Enrichment where she has drawn on her many friendships within NACFLM to give the retreats. Another new program is the Annual Diocesan Respect for the Dignity of Life day where workshops are presented not only on abortion, but anti porn programs, legislative issues pertaining to life issues, end of life issues, etc. She has helped in the training of many NFP teachers and now has an active, professional program available to engaged and married couples through the establishment of Intermountain Fertility Care. She has served on the Utah Marriage Commission for 15 years and helped enact laws that support and strengthen marriage. Veola was also involved and present at the Utah State legislature when they passed one of the first the Safe Haven laws in the nation.
She has served on the Resource Commission, then the conference committee, then 2 terms as Region 13 Rep to the National Board, and now back on the Resource and Formation Commission.
Being the Family Life Director has been challenging, fun, frustrating, painful—all the things involved in family life itself. She is grateful for the many friendships she has found in NACFLM. This is fair warning—in a few years when Ken and she are retired and traveling across country, you may find them on your doorstep. However, there is always a room here in Salt Lake.
She and Ken have been married 40 years. For 35 of those years they have been actively involved with Catholic Engaged Encounter. They have 4 children and 7 grandchildren. She hopes to continue her work here with new Bishop Solis (Veola’s 4th bishop) for a few more years. Bishop Solis has set as one of his priorities marriage and family life and she wants to help grow the program.