Matushka: Lots of Titles for the Priest’s Wife

 
Every “traditionally Orthodox” country has a special title in its language for the priest’s wife. In America, we tend to bring these terms into our parishes based on the ethnic background of the majority of the parishioners, as our own English language really has no “comfortable” equivalent. Here are a few:
 
Presbytera (pres vee TEAR a) — Greek, for ‘priestess’
 
Papadiya or Popadia (PO pa DEE ya) — Serbian/Balkan
 
Matushka (MA toosh ka) — Russian, for ‘mother’
 
Panimatushka (PA nyee MA toosh ka) or Panimatka — Ukrainian, for ‘little mother’
 
Pani (PA nyee) — a shortened form, common in the Carpatho-Russian tradition
 
Khouria (ho REE ya) — Syrian
 
The wife of a deacon has a title, too! In Greek, it’s Diakonissa (for ‘deaconess’). In the Slavic tradition, it’s the same as the title used for the priest’s wife! How do you use the title, once you learn to pronounce it? Just use the title with your priest’s wife’s given (Christian) name, e.g., Presbytera Helena or Matushka Mary. This honorific is appropriate when speaking to her directly, or when referring to her in a conversation with others: “Khouria Julia is making copies of the recipe for the workshop next week.”
 
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The Editor of the Catalog of Good Deeds.

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