Over at CNEWA, we’ve just posted online the Summer edition of our award-winning magazine,ONE. The issue features a fascinating glimpse into the life of a married Orthodox priest in suburban Chicago —who, to support his growing family, works nights at a nearby factory:
As the city of Chicago prepares for bed, the Rev. Sharbel Iskandar Bcheiry prepares to head to work, not the work of a priest — visiting the sick or administering the sacraments — but that of a laborer in a factory, earning money to feed and shelter his family. A priest of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Father Bcheiry, says some North American parishes can support their priest and his family. But, the 42-year-old priest says, “We have a small parish. We don’t have enough financial support.” Having earned a doctorate in church history, he had originally hoped to find work at a local university. “It’s not a choice to go to work in a factory. I have to do it. If not, there is no survival — not for the community, and not for us,” he adds, gesturing to his family. So this husband and father of two travels an hour each day to work the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift at one of the world’s largest suppliers of forging die steels, plastic mold steels, die casting tool steels and custom open-die forgings. He started out as a welder-fabricator working the day shift and is now a machinist. But he has not abandoned his academic pursuits; he continues to study and publish books and articles. Indeed, factory work even provides him with a distinctive view of theology. “It’s the practical theology,” Father Bcheiry says. “How to deal with the daily life. Punch in. Punch out. You have bosses, this one or the other yell at you. There is no privilege.” To spend a day with Father Bcheiry is to witness a life that might surprise those who imagine priests divide all their time between praying and preaching. For Father Bcheiry, that is just the beginning.
Read it all. And, in the video below, meet his wife. I’m sure many married clergy—and their wives—will relate. Also, be sure to check out the rest of ONE, which also includes a moving update on Christian refugees in Iraq.