The Easter midnight Mass at the Romanian Orthodox Saint John of Suceava Mission in Manchester, the only Romanian church in New Hampshire, was a beautiful three-hour event, attended at midnight by over 100 Romanians, Romanian-Americans, and their offspring.
Father Aurel Petrescu is the priest of the Saint John of Suceava Mission, which was founded in Manchester in 1996. He proved a precise and thorough performer of the mass, and has a beautiful voice, which, with God's help, remained strong through all three hours. In certain sections of the service, Father Petrescu was assisted by our "adoptive nephew" Alexandru Mican, the newly-minted MBA from Plymouth State University, who did his high schooling at the Cathedral Seminary School in Cluj, and thus is familiar with the liturgy.
Following the mass, the forty or so of us who had stayed for the entire service (it is common in Romania for folks to come and go during such long church events, and many had small children with them) enjoyed a pot-luck buffet. Alex had brought some of his wonderful vinete, a uniquely Romanian eggplant puree that is spread on bread, and is most delicious. I contributed sliced ham that I had baked on Saturday.
As it got to be 4:00 AM, a man I had exchanged nods with during the service came to our table. He sat next to me, introduced himself as Mr. Aurelian Diaconu, and asked if I knew Romanian. He said he had noticed I was joining in singing some of the responses during the interactive chants. "Puțin," I said. "A little." "But mostly I was listening and repeating what others were singing." His wife Liana joined us (Alex, Aurelian, and I were at the table together), as Aurelian asked about my time in Romania. "Not many Americans know anything about Romania," he said.
"I know," I told him, "I am very lucky. I have taught at UBB in Cluj for three of the past six semesters."
"What do you teach?" he asked.
At that point, Liana spoke up: "I have a cousin who is an economist in Cluj."
I asked, "At UBB-FSEGA?" [Facultatea de Știinţe Economice și Gestiunea Afacerilor, the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration]
"I think so."
"Then we have been colleagues. Perhaps we have met."
"Her name is Mihaela Luțaș."
Alexandru Mican laughed out loud. He, too, understood. There are no coincidences.
|The Family Diaconu of Manchester with Alexandru Mican at Easter Feast|
[Prodeacon Mihaela Luțaș heads the Englishline programs at FSEGA. She has been my immediate "boss" in all my teaching in Romania, since 2008. In addition to being a distinguished and highly respected teacher and economist, Mihaela is one of my best friends in all the world.]