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Clergy Wives Weekend Inspires and Refreshes

by Kh. Stefanie Yazge

“Clergy Wife: Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend” was the theme of the third annual Clergy Wives Weekend, held at Antiochian Village, from October 28-30. This year’s Weekend was not only successful, but will probably go down in history as unique, thanks to Saturday’s snow storm! (See a snow photo in the photo gallery here.) Fifty one wives of priests, deacons and seminarians, from as far away as Texas and Colorado, came together for this pan-Orthodox weekend of prayer, reflection and informal fellowship. However, five of our “commuters” did not make it because of the unseasonal storm that dumped 6-8 inches of snow at the Village.

Saturday morning’s speaker was Mother Christophora, abbess of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City. Her encouraging words began with reminding us that we are first and foremost daughters of God our father and the Church our mother. In that relationship we find our true selves, and our salvation.  Our relationships as sisters and friends – particularly spiritual friends – also afford God a way to work in our lives to sustain us, and help us grow. Then, being grounded and guided, we can see how we serve as a mother.

After lunch and time to take in the continuously falling snow, Dr/Presbytera Kyriaki FitzGerald gave the afternoon presentation. She focused on how Kh. Joanne Abdalah, in whose memory the Weekend is held, was a mother, daughter, sister and friend, especially to clergy wives, and what her example offers to us.

Following some free time, we had Great Vespers and then a lovely, leisurely dinner. The evening program was again most entertaining. Presbytera Becky Touloumes brought the game “Parish Feud.” Based on the TV game show “Family Feud,” it was prepared with specifically Orthodox parish content, including such gems as “What is the best length of a sermon?”

The Weekend concluded with Sunday’s Orthros and Liturgy, then brunch before everyone headed for home. The Coordinating Committee wishes to acknowledge those who played key roles in this year’s Weekend. We thank Fr/Bp-elect John Abdalah and his family for their support of the Weekend, in honoring Kh. Joanne’s memory. We are grateful to Mother Alexandra of St Thekla monastery for her presence and participation. The Committee also appreciates the work of the Antiochian Village staff – Fr. Anthony Yazge, Paul Finley, Barli Ross, Chef Tim and everyone there who made it such an enjoyable weekend. Our thanks to Fr. Don Shadid for serving vespers on Saturday. We also wish to extend our gratitude to the Antiochian Women (AOCWNA) for their financial contribution to provide assistance to wives of seminarians so that they could attend the Weekend.

The Weekend Committee was Kh. Laila Ellias, Prot. Mira Filipovic, Kh. Janet Shadid, Pres. Becky Touloumes, Kh Stefanie Yazge, Mat. Valerie Zahirsky, and Fr. John Abdalah.

Browse a photo gallery of the weekend.