Father George CALCIU and a Life Sacrificed for Christ
“The only chance of survival for Eastern Christianity
is that of a warfare through the Word.
Our solution is of Calciu-Dumitreasa… “
The future priest George Calciu-Dumitreasa was born in 1925 in Mahmudia, Tulcea, Romania, having been the eleventh child and the youngest of the faithfull parents Dumitru Calciu and Ileana Calciu (former Balan). In his memoirs (and especially in the book „The life of Father George Calciu – after his testimony and those who knew him”, edited by Diaconesti Monastery, Christiana Press, Bucharest, 2007), father George with his humorous style, noted that he learned more practical theology from his peasant mother than from all the treaties and theological schools he attended.
The young George followed the gimnasium in his native village and, then as a high school student in Tulcea, he came in contact with the Legionary Movement and joined, like most young people of his generation, the Fellowships of the Cross (a youth organization of the „legion of the Archangel Michael” intended for high school and junior college students where political views were only secondary, its primary focus was for an education of its memmers in intellectual, national morals, Christian values and brotherhood).
Eager to help the poor peasants among whom he grew up, the young George opts after the baccalaureate for the School of Medicine in Bucharest. When he was arrested in May 1948 he was a medical student in the second year.
Like many young people of his time zealous in faith and with national pathos, members of the Brotherhood of the Cross or perhaps only supporters of the Legionnaire’ cause, the young student George experinced the hell of Piteşti prison. At Piteşti, between the years of 1949 and 1951, under the worst physical and psychological tortures, overcomed by weakness and confusion („they called me the fallen angel with blue eyes” father used to say), he is „recruited” for a short time in the team of the torturers led by the sinister „instructor” Eugen Ţurcanu. Ţurcanu, a diabolical character, was once part of the legionnaire movemet but then recruted by the communist party as a key collaborator in the “Piteşti’ experiment” and lastly eliminated with no scruples by the regime.
However, the young student George Calciu will have a spectacular moral comeback refusing to take part in the Securitate [comunist’ secret service] wicked plan and overturning the trial intended for Ţurcanu and his colaborors; trial by which the comunists were not seeking justice but just to defend their party, through the old method of „finding the scapegoats”.
The young George Calciu finds the courage to point at the real culprits at large: the Secret Service Department of the Communist party founded by Kremlin which planed this odious process of “re-education” by using Ţurcanu and others like him as instruments in trying to promote the falls idea that everything was done by the exiled Legionaries and not by the regime.
With Piteşti, the redeeming odyssey of Paulinic dimentions of young George began, followed until 1963 by inprisomnent in Gherla, Jilava and Aiud and until 1964 by a house arrest in Bărăgan; a George no longer accepting any compromise and determined after his release to sacrifice the rest of his life for Christ and His Church. As I once commented: “This man’s life after the tragic experiment of Piteşti has become one of repentance, confession of faith and sacrifice. […] Perhaps no one after experiencing Piteşti was able to reach such moral comeback, an unrefuted victory over the evil. Because there is the case: George Calciu, it can be said that the Piteşti experiment has failed. Piteşti has physically crushed people, but it could not ultimalety destroy the Man. The greatly tempted George Calciu was not only tring to save himself but he eventually saved the human dignity in the face of what phylosopher Mircea Eliade called the terror of history.”
Having being released in 1964, George finds the strength to rebuild his life and fulfill that exemplary promise; he marries Adriana Dumitreasa (herself with two brothers that had passed through the communist prisons) who gives birth to their only son, Andrew (currently an attorney in Washington DC and father of a son). He is “tolerated” by the Securitate to enrole in the college of Philology and then – with the support of the brave and skilful Patriarch Justinian – in the school of Theology. He teaches French literature for a short period of time, then he is ordained priest and named professor of the New Testament at the Theological Seminary in Bucharest.
After the great earthquake from 1977 (prompted by the demolishion of Enei Church in Bucharest and the communists villain campaign directed by Ceausescu against the holy churches), Father George resumes his open battle with the communist regime and during the Great Lent of year 1978, he starts preaching in Radu Voda Church (then on its front steps when the church officials of the time had tried to stop him by locking the doors of the church) his famous homilies “Seven Words to the Youth,” – a series of sermons calling the youth and especially the future priests, to resistance in the name of Christ and harshly criticizing the atheistic materialism and the insanity of the Ceausescu’ regime.
His sermons had a local and international resonance, especially through the radio station “The Free Europe” but also circulated in typewritten copies, “under hand”, marking destinyes and consciousness.
After many threats, slanders and prosecution (everted also at his family and at his loyal students, so-called “calcişti”) with the intent to stop him, Father George is arrested again (on May 10, 1979), alleged with absurd charges and sentenced to 10 years of inprisonment (later changed to seven and one-half years) of which he executed five years. Father George was released on April 20, 1984 following the international pressures (from the West) directed at the communist regime of Romania.
So Father George Calciu executed a total of 21 years of inprisonment under the communists: 16 years under Gheorghiu-Dej regime (from 1948 to 1964, including one year of house arrest) and 5 years under Ceauşescu regime (from 1979 to1984)!
In 1985, he was practically forced to leave his country along with his family – once again greatly tested. After a brief stop in Western Europe, father moved to the United States – where he was granted “the honorary citizenship”, however with no pecuniary advantage. So practicly father had to start his life over again, working initially as a construction worker – although he’d already reached the age of 60 – to be able to survive and support his family.
Thus, to the 21 years of inprisonment, 21 more years of exile were added.
In America, Father George Calciu continued to endeavored, as much as the Lord strengthen him, to fight the good fight in the name of Christ and his nation. Besides his parish ministry (in Alexandria, VA), he advocated before many international fora in defending many oppressed Romanians; father had also met – among others – with presidents François Mitterrand, Ronald Reagan, as well as King Michael the Ist of Romania; he was a central presence at all important meetings of the diaspora; he published the book “Christ Is Calling You. A Course in Catacomb Pastorship” (St. Herman of Alaska Press, Platina, California, 1997) and much more…
Starting with 1990 after the fall of Communism, father will return every autumn, to visit the home land he had loved and unwillingly abandoned, bringing the same message of unity and forgiveness. In a travel journal from 2003, he noted with tenderness and bitter introspection: “Every year, the spirit of love for my country and its people, its monasteries and their dwellers, for my dear friends and relatives, draws me back to the steps of my childhood and youth and to the joys and sufferings I’ve experinced there – the most precious treasure of those 6 decades of my living in Romania, until the time of my estrangment [exile] 18 years ago. It is like a endless abiss that split my life in two in 1985, deeper and wider than the inprisonment. Maybe because even in prison, my life was following its course on the country soil, and perhaps it is why I always live contemplating my next visit back, passing over an ocean of waters and memories… “
On November 23, 2006, Father George would had turned 81 years. But he passed on November 21 (at 13.10, or 20.10 Romanian time) after 3 days of coma at the Fairfax Hospital, VA brought – at the request of his family – from the Central Military Hospital in Bucharest, where he had spent a prior month and was visited for the last time by many who loved him; by Patriarch Teoctist of Romania and by Metropolitan Bartolomeu Anania – his spiritual instructor who confessed and communed him for the last time.
Departed in the Lord two days before turning 81 years, father was brought back to Romania on the Feast of the Apostole Andrew and laid in the Monastery Church of Radu Voda, where once father delivered the “Seven Words to the Youth.” The official ceremony [memorial service] took place on December 2, and was led by His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist of Romania in the presence of his Eminence Archbishop Iosif Pop, Bishop Varsanufie Prahoveanul and Bishop Irenaeus Duvlea from America, representing his Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel of OCA. The Patriarch delivered a memorable speech evoking in addition to the theological and spiritual virtues of the newly reposed, father long struggle against the atheist and materialist regime of Romania as well as father “martyrdom in the communist prisons.”
At noon we departed for Petru Voda, father burial place that he had chosen in his will. Thousands of faithful from all over the country and abroad, gatered at Petru-Voda Monastery for the memorial service led by Archimandrite Justin Pārvu (aboot of the monastery and a former political prisoner under communists) in the presence of 34 priests. Father George was layed to rest – and it’s now seven years! – at the foot of “Romania Holy Mountains”, in the heart of Petru Voda, having as “companions in suffering” Abbot Justin Pārvu and poet Radu Gyr. And with no doubt, powerfull is their threefold prayer before God for those who will receive according to their love.
(Răzvan CODRESCU, Christian Journalist)
Father George 7 years memorial service: