BRIEF HISTORY OF ST. MARY'S PARISH

The first Romanian immigrants came to Youngstown, Ohio at the turn of 20th century. They worked in factories and tried to adapt themselves to the traditions and culture of their new adoptive country. Being religious people, the Romanian immigrants felt the need to establish a parish.

The parish was founded on Christmas Eve, 1906. The pastors, who preached, taught and interwove the two worlds, are as follows:

Rev. Fr. Corneliu Lenghel
Rev. Fr. Epaminondas Lucaciu
Rev. Fr. Alexandru Nicolescu, D.D.
Rev. Fr. Aureliu Hatiegan
Rev. Fr. Alexandru Pop
Rev. Fr. Aurel Voda
Rev. Fr. John Spatariu
Rev. Fr. John Pavel
Rev. Fr. John Ciungu
Rev. Fr. Konstantin Brown
Rev. Fr. George D. Gage (current)

The congregation and their pastor, Rev. John Pavel, decided to relocate the church to a place more accessible to the majority of parishioners. In August 18, 1979, the new St. Mary’s Church in Boardman, Ohio was dedicated, and the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated by most of the Romanian Catholic clergy.

We give praises to the Almighty Father for His blessing upon this church, its tireless people, and many friends and benefactors.

St. Mary’s is open to everyone who loves or is interested in the Byzantine Tradition.

We welcome everyone!


BRIEF ROMANIAN HISTORY

Our Church takes its roots from Romania. In order to understand this Church, we need to know some history of the region.

For almost nineteen centuries there has dwelt in southeastern Europe, in the land historically known as “Dacia Felix”, a people of Roman origin. This nation was and still is as an island surrounded by a Slavic sea.

The Romanian nation arose from a mixture of Roman colonists and legions, brought to Dacia by the Emperor Trajan in 101 A.D., with the indigenous Dacian element.

The formative period of Romanian nation took several centuries.

During that time there were constant disturbances occasioned by the invasion of tribes from the east, who swept over the territory inhabited by the Daco-Roman people.

Missionaries from Rome Christianized this population. In the eleventh century, the Bulgarians imposed upon the Romanians the Byzantine jurisdiction and the Byzantine ritual.

However, the desire for reunion with the See of Rome was preserved in the hearts of the Romanian people in spite of harsh political and religious oppression.

In 1700, the Romanians living in Transylvania, had reunited with the See of Rome, and reentered the Universal Church.

It was this Church which gave to the Romanian nation its cultural and national conscience, culminating eventually in 1918 in the political reintegration of all the Romanians provinces into one national state.

In December 1, 1948, the Soviet controlled regime suppressed the Byzantine Catholic Church in Romania. Most of its hierarchy, clergy, and many faithful, were thrown into prison or sent into labor camps for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith.

All bishops and numerous clergy died in prison. A cruel persecution was initiated by the communist regime against the Catholic Church.

In 1989, following the anticommunist revolution, the first decree of the new regime was to reinstate the Greek-Catholic Church of Romania.


OUR MARTYRS

We celebrate every year on the first Sunday in December the memory of The Romanian Greek-Catholic Martyred Bishops.

As an expression of great respect and homage to the martyred bishops, we present their brief biographies:

+MARTYR BISHOP IOAN BALAN

Bishop Balan was born in February 11, 1880, in Teius, County of Alba. After elementary school, he graduated from the high school of Blaj. He studied in Budapest, Hungary, and in Vienna, Austria.

In June 24, 1903, he is ordained to the priesthood.

Ioan Balan was one of the best-trained and enlightened clergy of his time. He was a quite well known expert in Eastern canon law. For this reason he was appointed as a member of the commission for the codification of Eastern canon law in Rome.

In 1935, Ioan Balan was ordained as Bishop of Lugoj. Fluent in many languages, Bishop Balan started the translation of the New Testament and wrote extensively.

On October 29, 1948, Bishop Balan was arrested in his chapel, during his devotion. He was ready. His luggage was prepared for this endless pilgrimage.

Many faithful were present at his residence to defend the brave hierarch. Bishop Balan asked them not to defend him, but to go home. The Almighty God was his refuge and comforter.

Like the other Catholic Bishops, he was taken to the Orthodox monasteries of Dragoslavele and Caldarusani, which were used by the communists as prisons.

Two years later, he was transferred to the political prison of Sighetul Marmatiei. In January 1955, he was transferred to other two Orthodox monasteries, Curtea de Arges and Ciorogarla. The many hardships, the forced labor, and the severe persecution could not break the morale and faith of Bishop Balan. He was kept in solitary confinement at the Orthodox Monastery of Ciorogarla, near Bucharest, for the rest of his life.

After extensive and brutal suffering for Christ and His Church, he died on August 4, 1956, at the age of 79. His courage, his pure faith, and his profound love for the Church and for the nation will served as an inspiration for generations to come.

+MARTYR BISHOP VASILE T. FRENTIU

Bishop Frentiu, the head of Oradea diocese, was born on April 25, 1875 in Resita, Romania. He pursued his studies at Catholic seminaries in Budapest (Hungary) and Vienna (Austria). Ordained to priesthood in 1900, he worked for the diocese of Lugoj for a number of years. His function was as dean of Orastie. Through the mercy of God, Fr. Valeriu T. Frentiu was ordained bishop of Lugoj in 1922.

He administrated this diocese until 1940 when the Hungarians expelled him. That territory was under Hungarian rule. Being left without a flock, Bishop Frentiu went to Blaj, as tenant bishop until 1947.

In 1948, the communist persecution began and Bishop Frentiu was among the first to become a victim. He was arrested on October 29, 1948, along with the other hierarchs, and forcibly detained in the Orthodox monasteries Dragoslavele and Caldarusani. A lot of pressure was put on him to convert to Orthodoxy. When this attempt was proven futile, the communists had him taken to Sighetul Marmatiei, a political prison.

Bishop Frentiu was a good hierarch, having a great faith in God and love for the Romanian nation. He was persecuted for bravely refusing to accept the communist state control over the Greek-Catholic Church.

The communist orders were clear: to annihilate any ‘recalcitrant’ bishop. He was considered an enemy of the state, and, consequently, was starved, maltreated and punished in many forms. All these conditions deteriorated his health.

Until his last breath, Bishop Frentiu prayed and hoped for revival of our Church. He prayed for those who were persecuting him, as Christ did on the Cross. He reposed in the Lord at the age 77, on July 11, 1952. He died in the arms of colleague bishops. He was buried in secret and without a cross.

The life and the sufferings of this martyr of the Catholic faith are a continued inspiration and a source of meditation on martyrdom.

+MARTYR BISHOP IOAN SUCIU

Bishop Ioan Suciu was born on December 4, 1907, as the son of a priest who was the metropolitan printer in Blaj. Since his childhood, Bishop Suciu was inclined towards contemplation, study and propagating the Eastern Catholic faith.

In 1925, he was in Rome at Ateneul Angelicum. After completing his theological study, Suciu was ordained into priesthood in Rome, November 30, 1931. Shortly following his ordination, Fr. Suciu went back to Beius, Romania, as a high school teacher. Through his faith, fasting, prayers, writing books and many speeches, Fr. Ioan Suciu touched many souls. Many Romanians came back to Church. His inspired conferences gained the hearts of the youth.

On July 20, 1940, he was ordained as an auxiliary bishop of Oradea. He was only 32. No wonder he was known as “the bishop of the youth”. Following the exile of Bishop Frentiu by the Hungarians, Bishop Iuliu administrated the entire diocese of Oradea.

In 1947, Bishop Suciu became the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Blaj. Shortly after this appointment, the church situation worsened. The freedom of the press was suppressed and civil liberties abolished. His sermons inspired thousands. He foretold the upcoming church persecution.

He eventually wrote the book, “Heroism”, in order to prepare the youth at the dawn of persecution. He also foretold his martyrdom. He was meant to walk the ‘Via Dolorosa’, carrying a heavy burden.

Bishop Suciu was convinced that only the holy martyrs would be able to waken Romania from its indifference. He told the clergy and the faithful, “The Greek Catholic Church lacks the beauty of martyrdom; it lacks the wound of our Savior. Only the persecution may offer the wreath of martyrdom and show the entire world that we are sons and apostles of the true Church.”

On the 29th of October 1949, Bishop Suciu was arrested because he, as well as the other hierarchs, refused conversion to Orthodoxy. On May 25, 1949, he was transferred to the underground torture cells of the State Securitate (Romanian equivalent of the Russian KGB) to be interrogated. He was exposed to sixteen months of brutal treatment. And all this because he was a great defender of the Catholic faith.

In 1950, Bishop Suciu was transferred to the political prison of Sighet. Due to the forced hard labor, lack of nourishment and medical care, he died on June 27, 1953, at the age of 44.

He was buried in a cemetery reserved for the poor, without a funeral service and without a cross.

+MARTYR BISHOP IULIU HOSSU

One of the greatest hierarchs of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church was Bishop Iuliu Hossu. His eloquence, wisdom and personality earned him great admiration and respect, even among his enemies.

He was born June 30, 1885, in Milasul Mare. In 1910, after graduating from the theological schools of Blaj and Rome, Iuliu was ordained into priesthood by his uncle, Bishop Vasile Hossu.

At the age of 32, Iuliu Hossu was elevated to the rank of bishop, thus making him the youngest hierarch of the Catholic Church in the world.

Bishop Hossu was instrumental in establishing the new law allowing children to study in the public schools about the Eastern Catholic Church.

Due to the new wave of persecution, Bishop Iuliu Hossu was arrested with numerous clergy and people. Even in captivity, Bishop Iuliu made many petitions to the government in favor of the church.

In March 5, 1969, Pope Paul VI elevated Bishop Hossu to cardinal.

His elevation was kept secret until his death on May 28, 1970.

+MARTYR BISHOP TITUS LIVIU CHINEZU

Bishop Chinezu, born in 1904, was raised in a priestly family. He studied in Blaj and in Rome, at the Collegium Angelicum. In 1930 we see him as professor of theology at the Theological Academy of Blaj, a position he held from 1930 until 1946. His intellectual formation, his humbleness, and Christian faith enabled him to preserve his personality untarnished and without any compromise before the atheistic government of Romania.

ritate and detained at the Orthodox monasteries of Neamt and Caldarusani. During his confinement, Fr. Chinezu was consecrated bishop by Bishop Frentiu. In prison, the newly ordained hierarch held many spiritual exercises. Due to his fragile health, he suffered a great deal, but never complained of it. His endurance without resistance reminded many of his cellmates of the Christians martyrs.

Bishop Chinezu became ill. In January 15, 1953, he was moved to cell number 68, with an open window. It was a freezing cold. In five days, Bishop Chinezu died in a terrible agony.

The great martyr was buried in secret, during nighttime, in the cemetery of the poor, with no cross on his gravesite.

+MARTYR BISHOP ALEXANDRU RUSU

Bishop Alexandru Rusu was born in Saulea, in November 22, 1884.

After completing his theological study in Blaj and Budapest, he entered priesthood in 1910. For 20 years he was professor of dogmatic theology at the Theological Academy of Blaj and editor of Unirea. His dedication was to be soon rewarded. For four years, Rusu functioned as rector of the academy.

In 1930 Alexandru Rusu was ordained bishop of Baia-Mare.

In 1946, the Holy See appointed Bishop Rusu the Metropolitan of Blaj. His appointment was rejected by the communist regime of Petru Groza. The newly elected metropolitan was considered persona non grata in his own country. However, Archbishop Rusu continued his pastoral activity until his arrest in October 29, 1948.

Archbishop Rusu stigmatized the communist persecution. His articles about communism are valuable historic documents. Together with the other bishops, on April 16, 1956, he composed the “Memorandum” claiming the right to existence of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church.

Metropolitan Alexandru was detained at Curtea de Arges (an Orthodox monastery). Twelve months later, he was taken to Bucharest for interrogations.

Even in detention, Archbishop Rusu, together with all the other bishops, stood up in defense of the Catholic Church.

In 1957 he was sent to the hard-labor camps. After fifteen long years of intense suffering, Archbishop Alexandru Rusu died on May 9, 1963, becoming a champion of faith.

He was buried without a cross.

+MARTYR BISHOP IULIU HARTEA

Bishop Hartea was born in 1914 in the village of Vintere, Romania, as the son of a railroad worker. He completed his elementary study in his native village. His secondary and high school studies were pursued in Beius.

In 1931, he was admitted among the young clergy of Oradea diocese. He eventually finalized his theological studies in Rome, earning his doctorate in theology summa cum laude.

In 1940 he returned to Romania, following the Dictate of Vienna, which split the diocese of Oradea.

Before his arrest, Bishop Frentiu decided to ordain Fr. Iuliu Hartea as an auxiliary bishop. In July 6, 1953, Bishop Hartea was arrested and sentenced to many years of hard labor. He was released after eleven years. The persecution continued until his death.

Very ill, Bishop Hartea, died on July 28, 1978, at the age of 64. Many clergy and thousands of people attended his funeral, which was seen as a triumph despite the communist persecution.

Bishop Hartea will always be remembered as a man of prayer, of unselfishness, and a devoted defender of the Catholic faith.


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