Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs – Fr. Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa

“United prayer is very powerful, and who take part in common prayer with other believers feel the effect, both spiritual and material.”


      Fr. Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa left his native Romania on August 5, one year after his release from prison, and arrived in this country on August 9, together with his Presbytera Adriana and his 19-year old son Andrei· This marked the end of several very difficult chapters of his life--including 21 years in prison--and through God's Providence it opens the way for him to cultivate a new territory in the free world· May God grant him to find good soil on which he can bring forth abundant fruit·

As a young man Fr· Georghe was arrested for anti-communist activities and held in one of Romania's worst prisons where, for various periods of time, he was kept in chains.

      He vowed to God that if he survived his ordeal, he would dedicate his life to the service of Jesus Christ and His Church. True to his promise, he was ordained in 1973 and became a beloved priest who was cherished especially by the youth. He taught French and New Testament studies at the Orthodox seminary in Bucharest, but was dismissed from his teaching post on May 23, 1978 for speaking out in support of religious freedom and human right s, and given an administrative post· The following year he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years. During his internment there was constant concern for his safety, particularly when for long periods no news of him was available even to his wife. Atone time it was feared that he had died in prison. When his wife eventually was allowed to visit him she found him in critical health, having been severely mistreated. Fr· George himself tells of an incident which took place during this time:

       "In l981, when I was in the hospital jail of Jilava, while I was praying and crossing myself one of the guards rushed into my cell and cruelly struck my hands, hands that did not resist this brutality, but even in pain, by my will, they kept on making the same holy sign. I heard that when this news reached the Free World, some people...started to cross themselves as a sign of solidarity with me, even Protestants and atheists..."

        On August 20, 1984, he was released, possibly because of pressure from the West, after serving just over half of his sentence. But his freedom proved illusory. Fr. George wrote of the measures taken by the authorities to isolate him and his family from contact with ether Romanians:

       "For months, there have been three militiamen stationed day and night in the entrance hall of the block where we life, another three at one end of the street, and another three at the other end· They check anyone who comes into the entrance hall and accompany them to the apartment they wish to visit; if [they say] ,they are coming to our home their names are recorded in a register, and, with the exception of relatives and some very close friends, they are forbidden to come up. Three Securitate cars, each with two or three police in them, are stationed day and night near our building, and when we go out into town--even for bread or milk--at least six of them come with us, shoulder to shoulder, so that we don’t exchange a word with anyone. People who innocently greet us have their identities checked, and are threatened and forbidden to have any contact with us ·"

    On October 6, 1984, Fr. George was unfrocked by a decision of the Bucharest Diocesan Consistory because of "his disobedience and insubordination to the ecclesiastical authority and his infringing the Regulations in force in the Orthodox theological schools." That same day, party members living in his area of town were called up to inform the Securirate if they saw him out in the street in his clerical dress, In April, 1985, the Holy Synod rejected his appeal against this decision.

    After several months of intolerable living conditions, Fr. George and his family applied to emigrate. Against all hope, their request was granted. Fr. George acknowledged that his arrival in the West was in the first place testimony to the power of prayer, and he wanted to thank all who had been praying for him and working on his behalf. His first thoughts, however, were for those who were left behind in Romania; there were still many people there who were suffering and who needed the same help as he had received. Speaking a few months later in Washington D.C., he said:

     '...We are now witnessing an evident return to God, and this is happening in countries where faith is persecuted. Today the communist countries are giving the world new martyrs for Christ...

     "Maybe from these countries, from those martyrs a new wave of faith will rise, a humble wave, without the triumphalism of U.S, broadcasts. Oppressed and often locked in the catacombs of faith, we understand our responsibility as Christians to lie in our being persistent in prayer and in apostolic teaching and communion (Acts 2:42) and in the steadfast preaching of Jesus Christ. If the masters of this world command us to be silent. we have another Master Who said: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world' (Matt. 28).' 

(Keston News, Nos. 228, 232, and 241),