Family matters

Father Marek, Miriam Visnovsky Visit Seminary

Father Marek Visnovsky recalls the first time he saw his wife, Miriam. The moment occurred on a bus ride when they were coming back to the Faculty of Theology in Slovakia following Christmas break. “I saw this beautiful girl in a packed bus. It was about a one-hour drive. We just kept looking at each other and that girl happened to be Miriam,” he said.

“When I got out of the bus at the stop at the Seminary, I kind of winked at Miriam and she winked back at me. Then
I could not sleep. Something sparked there and the next day I could not wait to go to University where we studied together.”

Marek who serves St. Mary Parish in Cleveland, Ohio, and Miriam visited the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius on Feb. 8 as part of its Seminary Seminar series to discuss the life of a married priest and family.

Both were born and raised in Slovakia and married in 2004. Marek was ordained into the priesthood in May 2004 and
two month later, they moved to Cleveland., where he began his ministry at Holy Spirit as an assistant priest.

Miriam said she initially turned down Marek because of her classroom duties.

“I wanted to study and I focused on studying…I had a group of girlfriends and we just wanted to study. We didn’t pay attention. He was in a class with us and we had a respect for all the seminarians. They were sitting in front of us; we were in the last pews.” Marek said it was a “little like being thrown in the water” when his family moved to the United States. He was preparing homilies and eulogies in English and struggling to understand the peculiarities of the language. “I wasn’t prepared for that. In nine months, we buried 45 people,” Marek said.

“Sometimes you have three funerals in a week. It is a shocker.” “He said, ‘I came to America and people are ready to go and see God,” Miriam said, with a laugh. Marek said one of the best pieces of advice he received was to listen and simply observe. “That’s what I try to do because I believe, and I can see it after 13 years of being a priest, a young seminarian or a newly ordained priest comes out like a ‘hot rock’ and he wants to change everything.

“That’s fine but I don’t care how flamboyant and talented you are, I believe it’s a very important thing…is being obedient to your senior priest or your pastor. Your blessing will come from that.” He recalls the words of Indira Gandhi: “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.” Miriam said one of the most challenging aspects of being a priest’s wife is attending liturgy on Sunday mornings with her three children by her side but not her husband. “I see couples where husbands help (their wives) with the kids. He’s holding a baby, she’s holding another baby.

“The hardest part of a being a priest’s wife is not having help every Sunday. I wish to have my husband sitting next to me in the pew but I know it’s not possible. I never had thoughts about it when I was single.” Marek said both parts of his life must be given their proper due.

“It’s important to find a good balance because there is a parish and there is a family. You need to find a healthy balance between those two. “As much as your parish family needs you, you need to be there for your family as well. I give a lot of credit to Miriam for never saying, “You can’t go’.”

Miriam said her children understand when duty calls her husband away from home. “They see your lifestyle. They see what daddy has to do. It’s a beautiful life and of course it brings challenges. It’s a cool life, I would say.” She enjoys being “very close to the source” of God in her marriage. “It’s a privilege. It’s a blessing. “It’s not for every girl or everyone. I think it’s…a call from God.”