“The Excellent Wife”
One of the best things about being a seminarian wife at St. Tikhon’s is the active community life. The seminarians, their wives, and their children rally around each other for support and fellowship in a way that is truly a God-send. Along with many community activities, we are fortunate to have our own program of guest speakers from all over the country, grace us with their stories and experiences.
One of the best such talks that I have been to yet was given by Mat. Anastasia Molodyko-Harris on Sunday evening, September 23. Mat. Anastasia has been a priest’s wife for 46 years now, with 32 of those years spent in Alaska. Her husband, Father Nicholas Molodyko-Harris, is founding pastor of St. Innocent Cathedral in Anchorage. Her tremendous example has been passed along to her six children, two of whom are now also priests’ wives of recent St. Tikhon’s graduates (Mat. Tamara Cowan and Mat. Anastasia Hojnicki.) Hearing Mat. Anastasia speak was like an oasis, and as I listened, I hung onto her every word.
Mat. Anastasia began her talk, entitled, “The Excellent Wife”, with one of St. John Chrysostom’s famous sermons on marriage where he imagines a new bridegroom speaking to his bride in this way:
“I fell in love with the excellence of your soul, which I value above all gold. For a young woman who is discreet and ingenuous, and whose heart is set on piety, is worth the whole world. For these reasons, then, I courted you and I love you, and prefer you to my own soul.”
As she continued on this theme of excellence, she then shared answers to this question posed to various priests (young priests, older priests, mission priests and retired priests): “What do you want in a wife?” Interestingly, she said they answered the same in that they wanted these characteristics: faith, love, sacrifice, and forgiveness.
While having all these qualities all the time may seem almost impossible, Mat. Anastasia reminded us that these are only possible with a strong prayer life of our own. She then focused on a number of very specific things we can do to empower our husbands to be all they can in their future priesthoods. She also shared warm personal stories of her life in their parish, and how she loved her people.
After this we were delighted to hear from Fr. Nicholas as well. We asked them both questions of parish life and life as priest and matushka, especially with six children. Fr. Nicholas said that they never “planned” anything, they just responded to needs as they arose. This really struck me, since so often we hear that one ought to “plan for the future.” Fr. Nicholas reminded us that this is what faith is for: God holds the real plan, but He only presents it to us one step at a time.
It was an absolute joy to hear from this Godly couple, who have been role models for so many people. They shared much more with us, and as they spoke, their love for Christ and His Church quickly became evident. Fr. Nicholas’ final words of encouragement to us were these: “Do not be afraid. Church life is a good life.”
I sincerely hope that Fr. Nicholas and Mat. Anastasia can return again soon. Many years to them!
By: Elizabeth Brinegar, wife of Ted Brinegar, 3rd Year Seminarian (OCA-Diocese of the West)