by Theresa Johnson


If the wives of Pastors had a Patron Saint, it should be John the Baptist — “He must increase while I decrease,” (John 3:30). A pastor’s wife is always there, the silent partner. She shares her husband’s disappointments and joys — knows the apparent failures — feels the barbs and feels the happiness too; and steps quietly into the background as men applaud him.

In the Orthodox Church, she may be called Khouria, Presvytera, Matoushka or Popadia. They have no special “day” but we should remember all of these — who have given the gift of their husbands to the Church. You see, no married candidate who qualifies for the Priesthood can be ordained without the consent of his wife. She must promise to live a life of many sacrifices with her husband. Both must vow never to divorce or remarry even after one dies.

It is not an easy role. In today’s society she would be called a 2nd class citizen! If she has talent and uses it, she is too “smart”; if she hides it, she is pretty “dumb”. Her husband is often regarded as a “necessary evil”. She is expected to be the perfect example. Her clothes may not be “expensive”, but must be stylish and in good taste. She is expected to smile and be cheerful even though her head may be aching and everyone else is complaining. She must accept criticism gracefully, and bite back any response. Her home is not her own, and ghosts of former Pastor’s wives are brought up at every meeting there. She is expected to cook, clean house, raise model children, be prepared to entertain at a moment’s notice and remain cool, calm and collected through it all. And though the phone rings constantly, she must answer each time pleasantly and courteously. She is the “unpaid servant” of the church and expected to fill every vacancy no one else wants. She cannot join a card club or plan an evening at the theatre, because it might cause “discord” in the parish. If she has babies at home, she is still expected to fulfill her “duty”, though others may relinquish theirs for the same reason.

She is the keeper of the light and though the keepers of lighthouses do not launch many ships, they keep many a good ship from going to ruin. The light shines further than the keeper can see, and brightest when they cannot see it at all. Their main purpose is to keep the light burning and never to get between the light and the darkness it is supposed to lighten.

When we shout “Axios” at the Ordination of a married priest, let us remember his wife, for she too labors in the vineyard of the Lord.

Pray for them.

From Word Magazine
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
June 1984
pp. 7-8