FAITH AND FAM­ILY

Lo­cal Ro­ma­nian con­gre­ga­tion to host arch­bishop

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY CATHY DYSON THE FREE LANCE-STAR

FREDERICKSBURG, VA. | There were smiles all around as mem­bers of the Ro­ma­nian con­gre­ga­tion worked to get things ready for their im­por­tant vis­i­tor.

Maria Sau­ciuc knows how vi­tal it is to make a good im­pres­sion. That’s why she and oth­ers are show­ing their best “tra­di­tional Ro­ma­nian hos­pi­tal­ity,” Daniela Langa said, so they’ll be able to have a church and a pri­est of their own that much sooner.

“We are all ex­cited and hon­ored be­yond words,” Ms. Langa said. “For some, this could be a once-in-a-life­time event.”

“I couldn’t even dream of this,” Ms. Sau­ciuc said.

The hopes of the church mem­bers — and there are an es­ti­mated 200 Ro­ma­nian fam­i­lies in the Fredericksburg area — are com­ing to fruition. Lo­cal res­i­dents are host­ing His Em­i­nence Ni­co­lae Con­drea, arch­bishop of the Ro­ma­nian Ortho­dox Arch­dio­cese of the United States.

In church cir­cles, that’s as sig­nif­i­cant as a visit from the pres­i­dent, Ms. Sau­ciuc said.

Lo­cal Ro­ma­ni­ans pe­ti­tioned his em­i­nence in Chicago, ask­ing that a church be es­tab­lished in the Fredericksburg area. The dio­cese seeks to have strong, vi­able churches — not nec­es­sar­ily one in ev­ery county or city — and Fa­ther Daniel Ene, a church ad­min­is­tra­tor from Rochester, New York, was sent to Fredericksburg to check out the re­quest in De­cem­ber 2015.

He re­al­ized there’s a Ro­ma­nian Ortho­dox Church in North­ern Vir­ginia, which is 45 min­utes away, ac­cord­ing to GPS sys­tems.

“Why are you not go­ing there?” he asked the Fredericksburg res­i­dents. “Then, I came here and took that drive.”

He an­swered his own ques­tion when he en­coun­tered In­ter­state 95 traf­fic.

The dio­cese agreed to start a Ro­ma­nian Ortho­dox mis­sion in the area. It named the group St. Callini­cus of Cer­nica, which has a web­site at sfan­tul­calinic.org.

Be­cause the group doesn’t have a build­ing of its own, mem­bers have gath­ered at the Na­tiv­ity of the Theotokos Greek Ortho­dox Church on Spotswood Fur­nance Road in Spot­syl­va­nia County, near River­bend High School.

Fa­ther Ene, who makes the 10-hour drive from up­state New York, and Fa­ther Ti­mothy Avram from Philadel­phia, hold ser­vices in the Greek church for the Ro­ma­nian con­gre­gants three Satur­days of the month.

But with the visit from the arch­bishop, who also over­sees churches in Canada and South Amer­ica, the lo­cal group will be that much closer to hav­ing their own fa­cil­ity. Arch­bishop Con­drea will talk with the church lead­er­ship, as well as church mem­bers, and de­cide what pri­est should be sent to Fredericksburg, Fa­ther Ene said.

He’s hop­ing to have a pri­est in place by the end of this year.

Arch­bishop Con­drea is sched­uled to hold a divine liturgy on May 11, from 10 a.m. to noon. Then, par­tic­i­pants will gather in the so­cial hall for food and danc­ing.

“This is a huge step for us,” said Vic­tor Fadur, who came to Amer­ica in 1999 af­ter be­ing a pro­fes­sional dancer in Ro­ma­nia. He leads a group of about a dozen dancers who per­form tra­di­tional steps from their na­tive land.

His fa­ther, un­cle and grand­fa­thers are priests, and “I know ex­actly how big this is for us,” he said about Arch­bishop Con­drea’s visit.

The Ro­ma­ni­ans are more than grate­ful for the hos­pi­tal­ity of their Greek sis­ter church, which ob­serves the same rit­u­als with the same icons, Fa­ther Ene said. Only the lan­guage is dif­fer­ent.

But to those born in Ro­ma­nia, in south­east­ern Europe, hear­ing re­li­gious ser­vices in their mother tongue is key. That’s why the group wanted a church of their own, with a Ro­ma­nian pri­est.

Also, con­gre­gants want their chil­dren, who were born in the United States, to em­brace their Amer­i­can and Ro­ma­nian roots, Ms. Sau­ciuc said. Her 10-year-old son is bilin­gual and spends his sum­mers in Ro­ma­nia.

There are so many chil­dren among the Fredericksburg Ro­ma­nian con­gre­ga­tion that “we are called ‘the kids church’ by vis­it­ing priests,” Ms. Langa said.

That’s why who­ever is called to Fredericksburg must be able to re­late to young ones, Fa­ther Ene said. Even when ba­bies are cry­ing or tod­dlers are mov­ing about the pews, the ser­vice still seems blessed, Fa­ther Ene said about the chil­dren.

“They bring the an­gels to­gether,” he said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Maria Sau­ciuc, Vic­tor Fadur, Claudiu Bar­dazau and Tu­dor Ionita (left to right) all im­mi­grated from Ro­ma­nia and now are work­ing to­ward form­ing a church for the Ro­ma­nia com­mu­nity in the Fredericksburg re­gion. There are an es­ti­mated 200 fam­i­lies there.

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