Fr George Calciu
Imagine spending 21 years in prison for your faith in Jesus Christ. George Calciu (1925-2006) lived in Romania during the communist era (1944- 1989). While a young man, his medical studies were cut short when he was imprisoned for his deep religious convictions and outspoken criticism of the communist regimen. He was tortured until he denied Christ and was then forced to torture others toward the same end. He admired the imprisoned priests, who endured and forgave their tormentors. He was released after 16 years imprisonment in 1964.
He then completed a degree in French literature, married and started a family. During this time, strengthened by his sufferings in prison, he also studied theology and was ordained to the priesthood in 1973, at the age of 48.
Father George drew many young people to Christ. He taught French and New Testament studies at the Theological Seminary in Bucharest until he was abruptly dismissed in 1978 for his defence of religious freedom and human rights.
In 1978, the communist regime renewed its attack on the Church. In defiant response, Fr George delivered seven homilies to young Romanians, one homily building on the next, during each Wednesday of Lent. He covered topics such as Christ’s invitation, heaven and earth, faith and friendship, suffering, death, resurrection and Christ’s forgiveness.
Predictably, Fr George was soon arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Despite beatings, torture, and deprivation, he did not deny his faith. In prison, he served the Liturgy, converted prisoners and forgave his tormentors. In 1984, Western leaders intervened to secure his release. Soon after, he was exiled and spent the rest of his life as the priest of Holy Cross Church in Alexandria, America.
How did Fr George endure? Fr George said “If we have God, we shall never collapse from the pain of this world. During our most atrocious suffering, we suddenly discover oases of light and sacred joy. If the world oppresses us, then Jesus comforts us; if we are sad, our joy is Jesus.” May his example motivate the faithful, especially young people, toward a renewed commitment to Christ.
Source: Lychnos August-September 2021