Five Questions: Mat. Elizabeth Philo

Welcome to! Tell us who you are. 

Hi, I’m Matushka Elizabeth Philo. I’m a veteran Kindergarten teacher who now teaches K-2, & 3-7 in our parish school. I’m a choir director, but not an amazing one (I’ve had the honor of singing under amazing ones so I know that of which I speak!). I’m a luddite who could never be a librarian but would love to go back to school and study music and child development (but sometimes feel like I’m getting the real world intensive version on the daily). I have 5 children from teens to tiny and have two beautiful children waiting for me in Heaven.

What do you most enjoy sharing? What do you feel most called to share? 

I like to share about children’s literature, ways to enrich the teaching and living of our Faith (and share the accounts and products from the amazing creatives and makers I’ve found on Social Media, who are flooding the Western World with their work–something I could have only dreamed about when I was little). I share daily life stuff about life with five kids, a growing miss parish, teaching full time, the joys and struggles of #momlife and #clergylife and enjoy seeing the connections and patterns that form from my own stories, when we keep these edited diaries online. I like to talk about good beer and camping, too. I’m ambitious and fall a lot. I’m definitely spread thin on some days, and my sharing reflects that too, I think.

The world of social media is complex. What do you see as difficult and as redemptive about sharing your journey in this way? 

I like to think that sharing who I am on IG or FB demystifies the clergy-family life a bit. Of course I edit myself a bit, and that’s good for my family (and my soul) as well. We’re all on the same path, just in different roles. I’m not a model of piety, but I will be your friend and share my joys and sorrows with you, my struggles and wins; while rejoicing and mourning with those whom I’ve yet to meet ‘IRL’. It feels comforting, inspiring, familiar, and enlightening, all at once, to see the lives of my sisters and brothers in Christ who let me in, even of just a bit.

I do know there’s a lot of time-suck that can happen, and I’m not immune to that. I struggle with balance. I mostly follow moms I’d like to have coffee with, people I know, and a few #vanlife #buslife accounts to live vicariously and ease my wanderlust a bit. I did manage to meet up at a Consecration in San Francisco with a wonderful mom I met on IG and then go camping with her and her kids too! I sometimes refer to people I follow as my ‘friends’, and then my family gets confused and says “who?”. Again, all about balance….

What is your earliest, distinctly Orthodox memory? 

This question is a tricky one. I honestly can’t narrow this one down…a lot of my earliest Orthodox memories involve my parents and feel private, but I can distinctly remember my parents leading our parish to become Orthodox and realizing things would never be the same. I remember the first time we attended the Liturgy, the first time we served readers vespers, and the first time people left saying this was all crazy!

I had no idea what was really happening at the time, but it was all so Biblical, so mystical, so true! I was in awe, and still am. I’m grateful to my parents for leading us to the True Church, for raising us in the Faith, keeping us on The Path even when we pushed and kicked against it, and forever indebted to them for loving us so fiercely.

What do you hope will be the mark you leave on the world as you pass through it? 

I hope and pray my children will stay the course and remain in the Church. I see that as my biggest goal outside of my own salvation and the building and guarding of my marriage. Helping to shape the young minds and hearts of other people’s children, my godchildren, my friends’ children, to often be their first teacher outside of Mom and Dad, this is one of my greatest treasures. This is my cross and my joy. This is my path to salvation….I am ambitious, and I fall a lot.


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