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Policy on Married Couples

Policy on Married Couples

The return of our Church to the tradition of ordaining married men to the presbyterate impacts our Community of Formation.  Marriage is a firm foundation for ministry.  Husband and wife are equal in partnership but distinct in their charisms.  The husband-seminarian benefits from a wife who can be his vocational cornerstone.

A reasonable assurance of marital and family stability must be a prerequisite before a married man is accepted into formation for holy orders.  While our Seminary works to support our couples, it is unable to take direct responsibility for the success or failure of thriving marital relationships.  It does not take formational responsibility for the wives of seminarians, and does not encumber wives with formational obligations.

It is understood that our seminarians will generally fall into one of the following states:  intending to commit to celibacy; a husband in a long-term marriage; a husband in a young marriage; a man who is in a relationship with a woman with the intention of marriage.

If a married seminarian lives off campus, he is considered to be a “resident seminarian” and is required to fulfill all formational obligations like those who live on campus.  There is no lessening of requirements for the married seminarian.

Permission should be sought and is readily granted for a married seminarian to absent himself from a liturgical service at the Seminary for the sake of his children’s participation in the E.C.F. program (and liturgical service/s) of the Byzantine Catholic parish to which the seminarian (and his family) has been assigned for Field Education.  The Seminary, to the degree it is able, will attempt to maintain the same field education parish for the married seminarian with children in E.C.F. throughout his time in formation.  When infant children approach the holy mysteries of initiation, it is in the field education parish or one’s home parish where these are to be sought.

In the policies that follow, what applies to wives of seminarians will generally apply to the female partner in a recognized relationship with the intention of marriage.

The wife’s presence at all liturgical services is always welcome.

Meals at lunchtime are open to wives.  A lunch fee may be required.  The Saturday evening meal is generally open to all those who are in attendance at the preceding vespers service.

Women are never permitted in the cloistered areas on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

Wives and staff members, but generally not other women, are allowed in the basement recreation area, but only between 7 AM and 8 PM.

Regarding liturgical services, meals, and social participation, children of a seminarian are welcome along with the wife.  All are expected to exhibit good manners in community by arriving for liturgical services and meals on time.  It is to be remembered that the Seminary, due to the sanctity and centrality of our liturgical and communal life, has a formational expectation that seminarian-husband and wife are actively encouraging behavior in their children that reflects intentional and loving discipline.  The Seminary does not provide childcare and provides an environment consistent with those parish churches without crying rooms.  Minors must be accompanied at all times by a parent, relative, or legal guardian while in the Seminary complex.

Wives who choose to take theology courses for credit may do so at a 10% discount after registering as a non-matriculating or M.A.T. student.  If they choose to sit in on a class without participation, either occasionally or regularly, they may do so at no charge with the instructor’s permission.  No application process is required when auditing courses.

Participation by wives in formational conferences is rare.

Meetings of the couple are to take place at least once per year with both the rector and the seminarian’s personal formational advisor.

Wives and children with pastoral gifts (e.g. catechist, Bethany ministry), at the discretion of the Director of Pastoral Formation, may be directed to local parishes to share their gifts.  This is to not be at the expense of the seminarian’s pastoral responsibilities.

If a woman who is dating a seminarian visits the Seminary, no seminarians are permitted inside her assigned guest room.

Like those students discerning celibacy, dating couples (i.e. couples in a relationship recognized by each one’s family) must understand the importance of the monastic “reference point” for all the faithful.  Appropriate embrace of evangelical simplicity is to be encouraged in all.

While engaging in ordinary family life with wife (and children), the seminarian (like the ordained man) does not generally dress in clerical clothing.  When dressed in clerical clothing, public displays of affection are to be avoided, with the possible exception of hand-holding.  Prudence dictates that, while wearing clerical clothing, a father only hold his children when in an Eastern Church environment.  He must be careful about disciplining his children in public when dressed in clerical clothing.

Life skills education courses are to be arranged and given for younger couples by mature married couples.  On-line programs, such as those offered by the Chrysostom Institute, are encouraged.

Conferences conducted by wives of clergy are to be scheduled for wives of seminarians and, occasionally, for couples.  Other theology students who are wives are to be welcomed into these conferences as appropriate.  These groups will have access to Seminary facilities for these meetings.

Mutual support of wives and future wives through meetings facilitated both in person and through social media (e.g. “wise women”) are encouraged and organized by the Seminary.  Counseling to assist younger married couples in the development of communication to help navigate the pressures of formation and discernment is available when found advisable.