A little article from 2007 I just found. From Met. Nicholas of the Carpatho- Russian diocese, encouraging support to the Panis or clergy wives of his Jurisdiction. I certainly appreciate that approach, but it strikes me that nearly all the points made amount to PLEASE DON’T BOTHER THE PRIEST’s WIFE! It makes me wonder if this is a commonly needed exhortation. I have to say, though there have been some very difficult things in my experience as a presbytera, I’m a bit surprised that this same point seems to need reiterating in regard to so many different areas. What do you think?
I did like the outline for the retreat and material about Ruth and Naomi. I would love to hear from anyone who went to the retreat itself– how did it go? –PresAnonyma
A Retreat for the Diocesan Clergy Wives is scheduled for Friday, September 29th through Sunday, October 1st at Camp Nazareth, in Mercer PA.
The theme for the Retreat is “The Truth of Ruth: Finding Joy in One of the Toughest Jobs in the World.” Metropolitan Nicholas will be in attendance at the Retreat, and will address the clergy wives at various moments throughout the weekend. Fr. Jonathan Tobias, Pastor of St. John’s Church in East Pittsburgh and Professor of Pastoral Theology at Christ the Saviour Seminary, will present a series of reflections on the tiny Old Testament book of Ruth. The topics will include:
1. Ruth and Naomi, Bitterness and Famine – the realities of hardship in ministry;
2. Ruth with Naomi – who are the people, mine and yours? and the free choice for salvation through ministry;
3. Ruth in the fields – gleaning wealth through poverty, and finding redemption through faithfulness; and
4. Ruth, the new Naomi – the reversal of famine, the end of bitterness, and the discovered grace of the Pani’s radical choice.
There is ample time for relaxation and fellowship built into the schedule.
A letter has been sent to all the Diocesan parishes regarding this clergy wives retreat, requesting that the parish underwrite expenses for registration and transportation. This is an important expression of support for our Diocesan clergy wives, whose service, all too often, has not been adequately recognized. The work of these pious women in the ministry of the Orthodox Church and this Diocese often goes unnoticed: but all the same, it is a work that is of incalculable benefit.
Pani’s are said to have a task that is great in responsibility but low in authority. They serve piously and humbly, frequently shunning the limelight so that the focus could be on the Church and the parishioners. They are sources of compassion, wisdom, good counsel, and are of enormous support and companionship for their spouse, the priest.
Besides sending the Pani to the Diocesan Clergy Wives Retreat on September 29th through October 1st, here are some other supportive measures that every parish can put into practice:
Ensure that the Pani is able to enter Divine Services in quiet prayer, without having to discuss parish concerns before Liturgy.
Direct questions and concerns about the parish and the Orthodox Faith to the priest, not his Pani.
Remember that the first priority of the Pani is to be a wife to her husband and a mother to her children.
Resist the temptation to express critical comments about other people or situations to the Pani.
Pani’s are happy to serve the parish, but in their own way. Some are great cooks. Some are great musicians. Some are great organizers. None of them are perfect, but they are each beautiful in their own right.
Do not expect the Pani to divulge confidential information about other people or parish concerns.
Respect the fact that Pani’s are not to involve themselves in so-called “parish politics,” or to become overly involved in activities that might detract from their primary vocation, which is to care for the priest and family.
Finally, thank God for the Pani, and pray for her to grow in her faith. Encourage her and support her in her very difficult task. Her husband was called to the priesthood. She is called, like Ruth, to follow him.
September 29, 2007