Romanian Orthodox for Enquiry in America

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Unity - Under Whom?

Author: Administrator
March 25, 2012
The problem of unity/merger between the ROEA/OCA (Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America - headed by Archbishop Nathaniel) and the ROAA/BOR (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas headed by Archbishop Nicolae) that we all want if it makes fiduciary sense, is quickly reduced to answering the question ‘under which Orthodox Church this unity would take place - the American OCA or the Romanian BOR. The response should not be one given by ourselves to benefit us, but rather a response given for the religious wellbeing of our children here. Let our own history in North America, over one hundred years old, help guide us in taking a correct, rational decision and not only an emotional one, given the emotive nature of the issue.

We have the example of the first wave of Romanian Orthodox immigrants from the 1890’s - 1920’s who built churches that became overflowing, but that after 40 years, began to empty when their children from here refused the ‘ethnic’ life lived by their parents in America. Then the second large wave of immigrants came - those post 1948 and into the 1950’s, and again the churches became full and new ones built. Almost everything in Romanian, in spite of the fact that many children born here no longer spoke the maternal language, and the churches built ‘for them’ did not correspond with their needs, the same as after the first wave. Again and again … the churches built by the first two large waves of Romanian Orthodox immigrants and their children were more empty in the 1980’s, and those of us left behind to carry on asked ourselves: ‘where did we err and where were we at fault?’ … And again a breath of fresh air, with the arrival of the third large wave of immigrants, those arriving post 1989. We are now in the expansion phase, but in the near future, when the majority of children and grandchildren will have integrated here and will no longer speak Romanian, then we better hold on… again we will have empty churches. This is the problem regarding the future that needs to be resolved today (tomorrow will already be too late). Thus, if we want an Orthodox future here for our children/grandchildren, we should choose the Church which corresponds best to their religious needs, and not the one which suits us best.

In this context, which Church can best respond to the religious needs of our American children/ grandchildren, the American Church from here - OCA, under which we find our Vatra - ROEA (with the majority of parishes and faithful), or the Romanian Church from there - BOR, under which we find the ROAA? On the one hand, the ROEA-Vatra is run following a more American style, being within the OCA, administered by people from here, in a manner Americans are accustomed to, and in the language from here as well as Romanian. Isn’t this the Church that corresponds more to the needs of those who have been here for a long while and their children/ grandchildren born and raised here, not to mention those from mixed marriages and converts? On the other hand it is clear that the ROAA is run following a Romanian style being within BOR, administered by people from there, in the language from there, that is everything from Romania and like in Romania. Isn’t it obvious that this can only correspond to the needs of the recent arrivals (until they integrate here) and not the children/ grandchildren born and raised here, not even mentioning converts and those from mixed marriages?

Our forefathers began the changes towards our church integration here, beginning with our breaking away from BOR and our entering the Mitropolia, the eventual OCA started in 1960. But old habits repeated themselves too often and the religious needs of the children/grandchildren were not fulfilled. Wouldn’t a Romanian episcopate in the OCA, which increasingly uses their language (English), administrated in line with customs from here and not there, by people from here and not there, have a better chance of answering the religious needs of our children/ grandchildren, than an Episcopate ruled by the foreign BOR? The children/ grandchildren of Romanian immigrants have already spoken twice (in the 1940’s and 1980’s) and they voted with their feet, refusing an ethnic ghetto life, and abandoning the Romanian- style Orthodoxy run by people from there who refused to integrate into the style of life over here, and all in Romanian - a language these children/ grandchildren no longer understood. Isn’t it time to learn from our past? How many generations must we lose from our churches here before we understand that our children/ grandchildren who were born here will not be Romanians, but Americans? And if they will no longer speak Romanian, but the services continue on in Romanian, and everything is administered in a manner foreign to them, they will no longer come to church and many will lose their Orthodox faith! Remember that we are now playing with their religious future - the greatest treasure received from our forefathers. If we do not take proper decisions now, many of our children/ grandchildren will no longer believe in anything, and this will be our fault … Thus, the choice between OCA and BOR must be made with our children/ grandchildren in mind.

Remember that another wave of immigrants from Romania to North America is not on the horizon. Western Europe is now too close and offers many opportunities for Romanians. Asia is growing too quickly … and so, we that are here, cannot risk any further mistakes. Isn’t it better to prepare the Orthodox future of our children/ grandchildren by giving them the OCA Church, in their language, following their American customs, run by people from here with whom they are able to get along? Our Romanian Episcopate in the OCA can evolve with their changing needs as they integrate into the North American fabric. It is difficult to imagine how our Episcopate, if subjected to BOR rule, could respond to their needs in the future. For these reasons, our past here clearly indicates that the OCA is the answer for our children/ grandchildren, and not BOR. Anything else means egotism for the first generation that might enjoy bathing itself in the past. But this would also mean indifference towards the future generations born here. Now is the time to learn from our over 100 year past on this continent, and adapt, parish by parish, given each ones particular future needs, knowing that in the OCA we can evolve at our own pace, going from ethnic parishes with traditions and style from there, to American Orthodox parishes with traditions and style from here.

We, Romanian Orthodox immigrants and children/ grandchildren of these immigrants, are today obliged to choose between the ‘Church of our Fathers’ and the ‘Church of our Children’. This is a unique phenomenon for those who definitively change their homeland - where the children born in these countries chosen by their parents - now have a new homeland, where everything is different: language, culture lifestyle, tradition, etc. If we want an Orthodox life for future generations here, in North America, isn’t the OCA from here, the best choice?

3 Comments to “Unity - Under Whom?”

  1. Viorel Says:

    Alegerea intre ‘Biserica parintilor nostri’ si ‘Biserica copiilor nostri’, iata adevarata intrebare care ne confrunta cand alegem intre OCA si BOR.

  2. Matt Says:

    This article succinctly puts the onus on the pro-BOR side to come up with any good reason to leave the OCA and go under BOR.

  3. Anne Says:

    How can we possibly choose between the ‘Church of our Fathers’ and the ‘Church of our Children’? To whom do we go for guidance in this difficult decision? What would Bunica say?

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