Navigating the seas of parish life

By Djakonitsa Adrienne Soper, wife of Deacon Larry Soper, 1st-year M.Div. Seminarian

Clergy wives have to navigate the complex issues of parish life, and sometimes knowing exactly what do in each situation can be difficult. This was the topic chosen by His Grace Bishop John (Abdalah) of Worcester and New England (Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America), as guest speaker at the March 6, 2017 meeting of the St. Juliana Society—our women’s fellowship at St. Vladimir’s Seminary.

His Grace, spoke to us wives of seminarians about parish dynamics, offering advice gleaned from his own experience, both as a widowed bishop and as a married priest.

“It is important,” he noted, “that clergy couples need to remain strong in their bond of marriage, by making time for one another and carefully crafting and scheduling time away from parish duties.”

Borrowing from St. Paul’s admonitions to married couples (Ephesians 5), he said that wives could be supportive of their husband’s ministry by being respectful of their husbands—and added that husbands must cherish their wives.

“Essentially,” he reminded us, “the couple must preserve their bond as a couple, as oftentimes parish life can be demanding, and it is easy to become consumed by it.”

We women of the St. Juliana Society were able to ask questions on His Grace’s chosen theme and then to receive feedback from him, as well as from our peers. At the end of this wonderful exchange, we realized we had received a treasure trove of wisdom to guide us as we accompany our spouses in their priestly vocations.

His Grace the Right Reverend Bishop John is an alumnus of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and is an auxiliary bishop of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, overseeing the Diocese of Worcester and New England.