St. Juliana's Society: Helping Clergy Wives to Thrive

17 October 2011 • Campus Community

St. Juliana Society, meeting with a panel of PKs ("Priests' Kids"), as part of their preparation for their future vocation.St. Juliana Society, meeting with a panel of PKs ("Priests' Kids"), as part of their preparation for their future vocation.How can clergy wives—vital and visible partners in ministry with their husbands—not only “survive” but also “thrive” in parish or mission life? Here at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, under the supervision of Matushka Thekla Hatfield, wives of our seminarians are offered the opportunity to learn how to do so, through bi-monthly meetings of the St. Juliana's Society.Icon of St. Juliana LazarevoIcon of St. Juliana Lazarevo

“The society was newly formed in 2010, with the intention of bringing in speakers to address the challenges of clergy life, especially from the wife’s perspective,” notes Matushka Thekla, who has experienced ministry both in the parish and mission field, and both inside and outside of an Orthodox Christian setting. “St. Juliana's Society is named after St. Juliana Lazarevo, a 16th-century woman known for her mercy and motherly kindness, and her continual ascetic efforts. We here at the seminary want to offer our future clergy wives, in an intentional way, the tools they will need to face the demanding situations they will encounter as they share in the ministry of their husbands.” 

Speakers thus far have presented wide-ranging but practical topics, among them:

  • Hierodeacon Herman (Majkrzak), chapel music director at the seminary: “The Liturgical Texts and How to Set Up the Music for a Service” (in case a clergy wife suddenly becomes the ad hoc choir director);
  • Matushka Manna Whitfield and Khouria Erin Mary Kimmett, new and experienced clergy wives, respectively: “Caring for Your Personal and Parish Families”;
  • Tanya Penkrat, seminary alumnus and professional florist: “Flower Arranging and Decorating Icons for Church Feasts”;
  • Archpriest Chad Hatfield, chancellor/CEO of the seminary: “ A Lenten Meditation”;
  • Dr. Sarah Fogg, director of the Pastoral Care Department, St. John’s Riverside Hospital: “Active Listening and a Discussion on the Family Systems Theory”;
  • Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, Katrina Bitar, and Dr. Jason Hatfield: “Living in a Fishbowl: Real-life Perspectives from a Panel of PKs”; and
  • Dr. Albert C. Rossi, adjunct professor of Pastoral Theology at the seminary: “Becoming a Healing Presence.”

In November, Mother Cassiana from Holy Protection Monastery in Lake George, Colorado, will address the issue of "Children in Church: Teaching Children the Presence of God"; Archpriest Steven J. Belonick, campus chaplain at the seminary, will present “Praying in the Orthodox Tradition.”

“I’m privileged to be able to lead this group,” continues Matushka Thekla. “There have been other models of preparation for clergy wives on our campus in the past as well, and I keep trying to expand on those, opening up for our student wives opportunities for growth and laying the groundwork for their important future ministries. When graduation day rolls around for their husbands, I want to sense that they too have ‘graduated,’ and that they are ready to thrive in their new settings.”

Read more about the St. Juliana's Society in the "Our Community" section of our Website.