The clergy in the Orthodox Church in America have unique needs and demands borne from their calling. The OCA’s Office of Pastoral Life (OPL) strives to support clergy and their families so that they — in turn, may serve others.
The Office of Pastoral Life’s current portfolio of programs to promote clergy health — spiritual, emotional, and physical — consists of four initiatives:
Thriving in Ministry
The Thriving in Ministry (TiM) peer learning program is designed for clergy and clergy wives. Small groups of clergy or clergy wives come together with trained facilitators to break the cycle of isolation, cultivate parish ministry skills, provide mutual support, and foster lasting friendships. TiM recently secured a new five-year sustainability grant from the Lilly Endowment to further enhance the program’s growth. This grant, combined with matching funds from the Church, will provide substantial support for the program’s ongoing initiatives aimed at nurturing and sustaining the well-being of clergy and clergy wives.
The Synaxis Program holds quarterly, two-hour Zoom meetings that bring together our bishops, priests, and deacons with engaging speakers followed by open and honest peer interactions within small breakout rooms. Examples of Synaxis topics explored include preaching, confession, stress management, burnout prevention, and the pursuit of joy in ministry.
The Clergy Wives Advisory Group (CWAG) provides relevant, spiritually-nourishing and feedback-based programs to connect, encourage, and support clergy wives of the Orthodox Church in America to champion their gifts in serving the Orthodox Church. Projects and activities to support our OCA clergy wives include, retreats, newsletters, and prayer lists and cards.
National Clergy Retreat
A few weeks ago in October 2023, The Office of Pastoral Life hosted its first in-person National Clergy Retreat in Mundelein, IL. Prior to this event, the most recent national OCA clergy retreat was held 19 years ago. More than 120 bishops and priests participated in this opportunity to nurture spiritual brotherhood with a theme around The Prayer of the Heart. Clergy enjoyed shared meals, morning and evening prayer, and engaging education sessions. Participation in the National Clergy Retreat enables clergy to grow as priests, husbands, fathers, and devoted servants of Christ. The Office of Pastoral Life intends to offer this program every three years.
Quality Clergy Care is Critical
We are grateful for those who support the wider work of the Orthodox Church of America, which includes the Office of Pastoral Life each year on Stewards Sunday.
Our programs offer opportunities for clergy and their families to combat isolation, cultivate new relationships, and rekindle existing relationships. This essential work would be impossible without financial support. Your offering of treasure enables us to continue the work of the church and provide excellent pastoral care to our clergy and their families. Please consider giving generously as we continue the work of the Church in these lands!
—Archpriest Nicholas Solak, Director of the OCA Office of Pastoral Life
To support the Office of Pastoral Life and the Orthodox Church in America, become a Steward by donating today!