In praise of the priest’s wife: ‘Your ministry begins before ordination even happens’

In praise of the priest’s wife: ‘Your ministry begins before ordination even happens’ October 17, 2019

Matushka Olga, wife of Orthodox priest, who is venerated as a saint in her native Alaska and beyond.

Here’s something I think a lot of deacons — and their wives — will appreciate.

A Greek Orthodox priest, Father Matthew Moore from Holy Trinity in Steubenville, has written an appreciation of the Presbytera, the priest’s wife, addressing a letter to her: 

Your ministry begins before ordination even happens. Some of you followed us all the way to seminary (in our Archdiocese, ours is in Boston), disrupting your entire life to support us. Some of you were newlyweds, and your very first years of marriage were spent under the eyes of 30 other families. (Some of you met in school and then got married right before ordination – another unique challenge.) You might had not seen us meaningfully for a couple of days at a time, depending on the season. This can be particularly difficult for those of us who have children, because parenting duties fell on your shoulders. For most of you seminary was a beautiful time, where you forged very deep relationships with other families. But it can be excruciatingly difficult sometimes to live in a large community and not see your husband. It’s important to note: you didn’t do it because you were pining for an upheaval in your life, but because you love us, saw something in us when we talk about God’s pull in our lives, and decided to support us in this call. Heck, you even made a statement that you support us and will follow us to wherever we’re assigned.

Fast-forward to the parish life where your ministry changes. Although your husband serves the parish, it’s your home parish. It’s your primary source of other Orthodox Christians, it’s where you, an Orthodox Christian, encounter Christ in the sacraments. And yet, because you are a Presbytera people look to you as an example of Christian living. If you have children people are going watch you parenting your children. Even on Sundays! I can’t imagine how stressful that is…

…I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention your ministry to us. Church work can be stressful, it’s true. It’s not always bad stress; just the busy-ness of things can wear on a person. But we do come home from maybe working all day and/or a long evening of meetings, and we still don’t shut off. We’re always noodling around some ministry idea, thinking about how to teach stewardship, or any number of other things related to parish administration. We don’t want to bother you with it but you try to let us bounce ideas off of you, give your observations, and even offer to lead a ministry that we really want to start but don’t have the time or brain space for. I couldn’t tell you how many priest wives I’ve met who are the choir director at the parish, or the chanter. If we’re beat down you endeavor to raise us up.

Read it all. 

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