UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Motherhood of the Traveling Clergy Wives: Weekend Gathering in Chicagoland!
On the weekend of September 18th until 20th, 14 clergy wives from parishes from across the United States gathered for a weekend of relaxation and fellowship in Chicago, Illinois. The weekend began with a welcoming dinner that was graciously held at Very Rev. Fr. Taras and Pani-Matka Laura Naumenko’s home in Palos Park, IL. During the evening the clergy wives had an opportunity to meet each other and get to know one another.
On Saturday morning, the clergy wives met at Sts. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Parish for a Moleben prayer service, led by His Eminence Archbishop Antony, the President of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA. Also in attendance were Very Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko and Rev. Fr. Victor Wronskyj. Following the Moleben, His Grace Bishop Daniel spoke to the clergy wives about how the role of the priest’s wife is a calling to serve Our Lord. His Grace noted that a priest’s wife does this primarily by supporting her husband, his ministry, and their family. After addressing them, Bishop Daniel presented each Pani-Matka a diptych with the icons of Christ and the Birth-giver of God.
Then everyone went to the parish hall for an appetizing breakfast, prepared by a parishioner of Sts. Peter & Paul. Following breakfast, His Eminence Archbishop Antony addressed the clergy wives about the importance of prayer. His Eminence stressed the importance of laying everything down at God’s feet and offering thanks to Him for enabling us to endure the struggles of each day.
After the hierarchs left the parish hall, the clergy wives had the opportunity to discuss issues that concern their unique position within the spiritual life of the Church. One of the topics that came up in conversation was the importance of elder and retired clergy wives. Many clergy wives present this weekend hope to include these important women in future gatherings to provide insight about the role of a priest’s wife. The clergy wives broke for lunch, and then, continued their conversation until the break in the evening.
Saturday evening, the clergy wives attended Vespers at Sts. Peter & Paul and then ventured down to the Navy Pier for dinner. During dinner, the lively conversation continued, and the clergy wives’ laughter rang throughout the restaurant. The group also shared in the birthday celebration of a fellow diner at the restaurant by singing “Mnohiya Lita”. After dinner, they all went on a boat ride on Lake Michigan. They saw the beautiful city skyline, lit up in the evening and a fireworks show (that we’d like to think was put on for us).
Sunday morning, the clergy wives attended a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy at Sts. Peter & Paul Parish, celebrated by His Grace Bishop Daniel. The service was a spiritually uplifting way to end the weekend. Responses were beautifully sung by the choir. In his sermon, His Grace, Bishop Daniel discussed the Gospel and urged all to live the Gospel by example. He also urged the congregation to realize the importance of a priest wife and to understand that her calling to serve is based on her gifts, as well as her limitations. His Grace exhorted the faithful to respect and take care of their spiritual mother, just as she tends to and cares for her parish family with love. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His Grace Bishop Daniel served a Memorial service for the victims of 1932-1933 Great Famine in Ukraine.
Following the Divine Liturgy, the clergy wives were able to spend time in the parish hall visiting with the parishioners of Sts. Peter & Paul before traveling home after a wonderful, revitalizing weekend in Chicago. All present expressed appreciation and gratitude to His Eminence Archbishop Antony, His Grace Bishop Daniel, Fr. Taras & Pani Matka Laura and the parish board of administration and parishioners of Sts. Peter & Paul Parish for hosting this wonderful weekend. We all look forward to next year’s retreat and hope that many other Pani-matkas will be able to attend.
Pani-matka Anna Haluszczak