March Ministry of the Month: St. Alexander Nevsky OCA Cathedral, Pittsburgh, PA
Ministry Leader: Eileen Glisan


Tell us about yourself!
I’m now retired from my position as a Spanish professor at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I live in a suburb north of Pittsburgh and I’ve been a member of St. Alexander Nevsky since the 1980s. I’m married and my husband and I have two grown children and one grandchild.

I do professional consulting and textbook writing, training world language teachers and conducting workshops throughout the country on a part-time basis. So I’m still professionally active in my retirement, but I also spend a lot more time with my granddaughter and on church projects. 

How did you learn about OCLife?
A little over a year ago, at our annual parish meeting, I reported about what we had done during the year with Women’s Choice Network, the pregnancy center we partner with. After the meeting was over, Archbishop Melchizedek asked if I could start an OCLife group. He said he wanted me to get our parish involved and to work with the other parishes in the Pittsburgh area to try to get them on board with the ministry.

After talking with Emily, I discovered that we were already doing many of the things we had to do as an OCLife ministry. So we felt like it was a good next step for us to be involved with an organization that was specifically Orthodox.



Why is the pro-life cause important to you?
I’m concerned about to what degree the issue is being discussed in our parishes, especially because I think the discussion about pro-life issues is largely absent from many of them. I worry about our youth growing up in this culture where abortion seems to be a way of life and everybody seems to accept that. That’s very scary to me because our youth are the future of the church and if they’re not necessarily hearing about it at church, then they are going to be under pressure from their peers to accept it as being the norm.

How is your parish working to educate the youth?
From the time that we started to become involved with the pregnancy center, we’ve involved the youth in it. That’s led to discussions in our church school program with the teens about abortion. We’ve also taken them to different functions of Women’s Choice Network, especially their fall fundraising function. Every year, we’ve taken some of our youth to the banquet so that they can learn about what is being done to help abortion-vulnerable men and women in the community. This hopefully helps them rethink what they might think about abortion. We’ve been introducing these discussions into church school and the parish, but always through the lens of the pregnancy resource center so that we can teach our youth and adults that we engage in pro-life work with love.

How are you creating a culture of life within your parish?
We started to have monthly moleben services for victims of abortion.



What are a couple of big ccomplishments that you would like to highlight?
For several years, we’ve been preparing gift bags for the local pregnancy resource center to distribute to their new moms and new babies. As we work with them, we find out what their needs are and then we try to fill those. It’s a parish-wide effort. We buy the gift bags and then we put little tags on them that give ideas of what to put into the bags. Parishioners take the bags and purchase items to fill them. Then we take the filled bags to the center for them to use throughout the year and distribute them to new moms and babies.


Do you have any long-term goals for this ministry?
We are trying to get other parishes in the area involved. We are working on that slowly. We’ve been helping more and more to get involved with their local pregnancy resource centers, and, as a next step, to launch OCLife ministries. 

Do you have any words of encouragement for those considering joining OCLife?
I think taking very small steps is the way to go because everybody’s parish situation is unique. You want to start small and do something that fits with who you are as a parish. I think another key is to try to identify a pregnancy resource center in your area with which you feel comfortable working, because having those connections is key to a successful parish ministry program. Connection to people who are in the position of serving the community is critical because a group can’t operate in a vacuum without a pregnancy center.