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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

So Ya Wanna Be a Priest's Wife?

Yesterday, I posted a piece on married priests. I think it's only fair that I concentrate on the role of being the priest's wife as well. Granted, some of this might be rehash from the married priests post, but it still counts. (N.B. I wrote this from an eastern perspective since the married priesthood is an ancient custom in the East, but this would also apply in the Latin church if it suddenly changed course on it's celibacy discipline.)

As the priest's wife, your role in the family is critical to making it all work. Once your husband is accepted for priesthood formation, he needs to go to seminary. In regards to how seminaries handle families, the policy differs from seminary to seminary. If your husband ends up going to Saints Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA, it depends on how your family is. If it is just you and your husband, they offer a dorm section which is meant specifically for married couples. If you have children and you don't want to go the "husband stays at seminary and you stay home with the kids the whole time he's in seminary" route, you and your husband will have to buy a house close to the seminary and live there for the years he is in seminary. You will also be invited to take part in various events with your husband throughout the year (like weekly Sunday evening Vespers which is open to the public) and might be asked for input on formation at various times.

I should mention that your "Yes" makes the difference whether your husband gets ordained or not. If you say "No", the bishop will not ordain him. Once your husband is ordained and assigned to a parish, you will have to help him run it. As your husband goes about his priestly duties, it will be your job to manage the children (and of course he will take time to be with the kids too). If your husband doesn't make enough as a priest to make ends meet, are you prepared to take a job to help support the family? Even if he does make enough as a priest, can you deal with the stress of your husband frequently taking time away from the family to fulfill his priestly duties?

Once your husband is ordained, he will be at the call of the bishop. If the bishop wants to move the priest from one parish to another, he will have to accept as part of his promise of obedience to the bishop. These days, it seems that moving priests around is a popular tactic for bishops instead of keeping them in a given parish for life. If your bishop says "I want you to go here", can you deal with moving every few years? Given the size of some eparchies or dioceses in the US, you might be asked to move a great distance from where you are currently located. 

As a priest, your husband will have to interact with other female parishioners. It is important that you not let jealousy act in any way here. Your husband will not forget that he is married to you when dealing with other female parishioners.

The support of a priest's wife is critical. If the priest is having a hard time, the priest's wife's help and support can be just what he needs to lift his spirits and keep going through the day. You as the priest's wife are to be a good feminine example for other ladies in the parish in living a good Christian life. As part of the vocation of priest's wife, you also help keep your husband accountable as well.

This is all I can think of for the role of priest's wife specifically at the moment. If Priest's Wife is watching, any input to improve this post would be greatly appreciated.

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