The St.

Dimitrie Newsletter for winter 2007
I would like to start by thanking all of you, our donors and supporters, who have made our work here in Romania possible during this past year.. We could not be here without you., and we are grateful to you for your prayers and support of the St. Dimitrie Project.
Quite a lot has happened since I last sent out a printed newsletter. This past spring Archbishop Bartolomeu appointed a full time priest to work in our project. On the left we see Fr. Cristi Persa blessing visitors to our daycenter “Casa Alba” during our annual festival in honor of our patron saint, St. Dimitrie of Basarabov. Probably 50% of the people who use this center are unemployed due to a mental or physical handicap. Related to OUR MISSION TO SERVE THE CHURCH we have started doing alcohol information and drug prevention programs in the local Orthodox high school seminary. On the right you will find one of our social workers, Claudia Varga, giving a class on HIV and drug abuse prevention. These young people are the future of the Church in Romania and we hope that we can help them to know more about some of the problems facing modern Romania. One of the problems facing Romania today is that of alcohol abuse and drug addiction. The Orthodox Church recognizes this, and is making efforts to educate its clergy so that they can help their effected parishioners. On the left you see short term missionary and OCMC board member Dr. Spero Kinnas (GOC, Chicago) giving a presentation on the “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome” at our training conference in Cluj last August. The priests were very much interested in this issue, especially those who come from rural villages, where alcohol abuse is a part of daily life. The St. Dimitrie Project has developed training programs about addiction designed to meet the needs of the Church. We are now also collaborating with Fr. Iulian (from the Iasi archdiocese, center front of photo to the right) in giving presentations throughout Romania on alcoholism and drug abuse. At this time we are the only ones offering this kind of information to the Church in Romania. Two other priests accompanied him from Iasi, one of whom is filming the conference for distribution to other priests.

We were fortunate this year to have Orthodox priests skilled in addictions work to visit our project and to do trainings for the priests here in Romania. On the right, (on either side of Bishop Nicodim) you will find short term missionaries Fr. George Aquaro (AOC, Los Angeles and Fr. Andrew Harrison, (OCA, Chicago). The others in this photo represent the protopriests and social work department heads of the Craiova archdiocese, whom we have been working with for several years. We conducted a training for about 40 priests at the conference that we held near Craiova.

Other short term missionaries included Sheila Fox, (AOC, Orlando), Maria Chisnal (GOC, Bahama’s) and Joanna Sedor (OCA, Detroit). Here on the left you see Maria and Joanna working at our project at the Tuberculosis hospital in Savadisla. The patients were very happy to learn about quilting and are now making everything from quilts to pillow covers. If you are interested in a quilt or a hand quilted pillow cover please let me know and I’ll help you to find one.

One year ago we began doing some work in the Republic of Moldova, just east of Romania. Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. The Church in Moldova has welcomed us to start recovery programs through “Diaconia”, the social action arm of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Moldova. I will be working with Fr. Ion (seen on the right with 5 of his 7 children and Preotasa Antonia). We will be begin a full time presence in Moldova in January of 2008. This last picture brings joy to my heart. Four years ago Radu was separated from his wife and two children and had chronic unemployment because of alcoholism. Because treatment programs are so few in Romania he had no place to turn to for help. He found the St. Dimitrie treatment program through the Church, and has been sober since 2003. Today he is reunited with his family, and thanks be to God he found productive work at his profession, engineering. In the picture, we were visiting a monastery near Iasi, his home town. On behalf of Radu, my staff, myself and the many other people whom we serve through the Orthodox Church I thank you, for we could not do it without your support and prayers.