Finally something to write about – and yes, it’s another trip abroad:) I was in Romania last weekend and it was my first time in the country. The reason for going was a meeting similar to the one in Holland earlier this year. This time I didn’t go alone, fr. Manuel Prado went as well and we had a great time together representing CSC. The meeting was bigger, too, with almost a hundred participants from several European countries. I counted I spoke 19 languages during the weekend (a few of them of course limited only to one or two sentences).
Our accommodation was in Snagov outside Bucharest. It was a Carmel in the middle of fields. It was still under construction but I had no complaints – quite an ideal place for such a conference. Obviously I met a lot of wonderful people and made friends. In the above photo you see fr. Manuel with one of those people, Jean-Baptiste from France. He was from the Emmanuel community whose beautiful and joyous songs we got to enjoy during the first Mass Friday evening, in Romanian:) J-B impressed me with his cheerfulness and apostolic zeal. We immediately realized we were soulmates:)
Above you see me and msgr. Leuzzi, the main organizer, in front of the fields. Below two fantastic people – a Neocatechumenal professor of linguistics from Rome with whom I discussed etymology, theology and ancient languages a lot together with a Lebanese Maronite priest from Cyprus. He spoke Greek, Arabic, Italian and English. I have an invitation to go to Cyprus and visit Libanon with him, and I hope we can organise a group of Arabs to finance tickets for him so that he could visit Finland and say the Maronite liturgy in Aramaic in Helsinki, Turku and Tampere. Contact me if you’re interested in helping with this project.
And here below is the whole group. In the middle His Excellency Everard De Jong, Auxiliary Bishop of Roermond and my good friend whom I sincerely hope to have here in Finland as our next Bishop. Actually there have been such rumors in Holland but it’s not sure at all. God grant us a holy, wise, humble, generous, youthful, charismatic and orthodox Bishop with such a good sense of humour (+experience as a Bishop and a sincere willingness to learn the new language)!
Well we did do some sightseeing as well! Here is the second biggest building in the world (after the Pentagon), Ciaucescu’s palace with like a thousand rooms and tons of marble. Notice in front the mess with the wires or whatever the electric lines are called that the Romanians aren’t able to hide or keep neat for some reason. We saw 4 rooms in the palace + the toilets which were also made of marble.
Then we went to this outdoor museum that resembles Seurasaari in Helsinki a bit. After a visit to the Hard Rock Cafe with my Southern Italian friends (with whom I got to speak Neapolitan, of course:D) we did some extreme duudsonit stuff with the Irish delegate. I asked him if he knows the Larkins and he said he didn’t until I mentioned Andrew’s first name and then suddenly he did. Last time it was the opposite when I asked Andrew’s brother David if he knows an Andrew – he didn’t know until the surname came to light. There’s something wrong with this Irish people. They’re all the same and they all know each other after thinking they don’t.
Finally we visited the Cathedral and had a fabulous dinner with the local Bishop. There is a weird scandal related to the Cathedral though that is worth mentioning. They’re building a huuuuuge hotel right next to the church to make it look small and insignificant. There is a protest movement of Catholics rebelling, of course. Here is what it looks like.
We took part in the Sunday Mass with the congregation, mostly in Romanian, and it was a wonderful experience. There were the Missionaries of Charity there too. And it’s interesting to see how ”Orthodox” the Mass looks like in an Orthodox country, whereas in Finland it looks quite Lutheran. And of the beautiful Romanian language which by the way I studied intensively on the way there through Budapest. After reading over 100 pages in a textbook I could already communicate the basics. Fell in love with the language! Below the 4 Bishops from Slovakia, Poland, Romania and Holland from the Sunday Mass in the Cathedral. Pray the one on the right will soon be here with us:)