As a young priest, I was engaged in parish visitations. It was customary each year for the priests to visit the homes of all registered parishioners. Besides spending a few minutes with parishioners in their homes, particularly those who were not accustomed to coming to Mass or practicing their faith, we also took the time to conduct a yearly census.
We collected various information, e.g. who lived in the home, ages, educational background, sacramental history and practice, as well as occupations and other helpful data. In order to fit the information on a small census card, we had to use codes. When it came to “occupation,” “P” meant Professional; L=Laborer; M=Management; HW=Housewife; and so on.
In one home, next to the name of the wife and mother, my predecessor wrote “DE.” I didn’t know what this abbreviation meant, so I asked the woman if she knew. With an air of satisfaction, the woman said: “I told the priest last year, I did not like the term ‘housewife’ because it doesn’t reflect the dignity of what I do in my life. So I told Father I was a “Domestic Engineer!”
While she was referring to her everyday responsibilities within the home, I do not think she understood just how “theologically correct” her response was. The Second Vatican Council, when speaking of family life, referred to the family as the “Domestic Church.”