|Home||The church||Directions||The priest||Religious services||Sunday school||Dacia Hall||Books and icons||Română|
Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church
- THE ROMANIANS -
As proud Canadians, around 30,000 Romanian speaking people are living in The Greater Toronto Area. University professors, teachers, doctors, nurses, politicians, computer specialists, architects, engineers, business managers, store and restaurant owners, office clerks, accountants, real estate agents, insurance brokers, geologists, ballet instructors, choreographers, sculptors, iconographers, musicians, athletes, skilled and trade professionals or in any other qualified or unqualified jobs the Romanians contribute to the development of a peaceful, prosper and friendly Canadian society.
Romania is located on the lower Danube River in southeastern Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula.
It has a geographical area of 237,500 square km and a population of approximately 21,000.000. In 1992 , 89.1 percent of the population were estimated to be ethnic Romanians, 8.9 percent were ethnic Hungarians, and 0.4 percent were Germans. The Hungarian and German minorities are concentrated in Transylvania, a province in the middle of the country.
Dacian tribes living in what is now Romania were defeated by the Roman emperor Trajan in 106 AD, and for the next 165 years the country was the Roman province of Dacia. During that time the native population was Romanized and the Romanian language developed from spoken Latin and Dacian. A new nation was born: The Romanians.
At the beginning they were organized in three provinces: Transylvania, Walachia and Moldavia. Hungarians settled in Transylvania in the 11 -th century. Germans (sasii) settled in south-eastern Transylvania in the 12 century. The Ottoman Turks established control over Walachia and Moldavia in the 15-th century, despite fierce resistance by Romanian princes. In the last decade of the 16-th century MICHAEL THE BRAVE, Prince of Walachia, defeated the Turks and briefly united Walachia with Moldavia and Transylvania (1600 AD). After that Transylvania went back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Phanariot Greeks were appointed by the Turks to govern Moldavia and Walachia.
In 1859 Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected voivode of both principalities, Moldavia and Walachia, and in 1862 the powers recognized the administrative union of the two states as Romania. Cuza carried out many sociopolitical reforms. In 1866 he was forced to abdicate and was replace by Prince Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who led Romania in its War of Independence (1877-1878). In 1881, Charles was crowned King Carol I of Romania.
During the next 35 years Romania gradually modernized. Foreign policy aimed at the unification of all the Romanian lands. Carol I was succeeded by his nephew Ferdinand in 1914. In 1916 Romania entered World War I against the Central Powers. Despite initial defeat and the occupation of the country by Austro-German forces, the Allied victory enabled Romania to acquire the former Austro-Hungarian territories of Transylvania, Bucovina and Banat (December 1, 1918). This, in addition to Bessarabia, taken from the disintegrating Russian Empire, doubled the size of the Romanian kingdom (March 27 ,1919).
In 1938, King Carol II established a royal dictatorship that lasted until 1940. That same year Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia and Bucovina to the USSR, northern Transylvania to Hungary, and southern Dobruja to Bulgaria. Under Gen.Ion Antonescu Romania participated in the German-led invasion of USSR. Faced with imminent defeat by the advancing Red Army, King Michael, the army, the three traditional parties , and the minuscule but well-organized Communist party overthrew Antonescu in August 1944. Romania then joined the Allies but still lost Bessarabia to the USSR in the postwar territorial settlement.
In December 1947 the monarchy was abolished and Romania was proclaimed a people's republic. Under Communist leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej industry was nationalized, agriculture was collectivized and political opposition was suppressed. In 1965, Nicolae Ceausescu succeeded Gheorghiu-Dej and his regime was discredited by its abuse of human rights and economic mismanagement. In December 1989, in a brief but violent revolution the regime was overthrown and the dictator and his wife were executed. A coalition including former dissidents, Communist party members and army officers, calling itself the National Salvation Front took over. Its leader Ion Iliescu became the president of Romania.
After 1996 through free elections a democratic government was elected and a new era began under the leadership of president Emil Constantinescu.
LANGUAGE, RELIGION, ARTS AND LITERATURE
Romanian, an eastern Romance Language, is the official language. Hungarian is used by the Hungarian minority, and German and other languages by the relevant minorities.
Most Romanians adhere to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Roman-catholic , Lutheranism, Unitarian, Calvinist, New-Protestant, Eastern Rite Catholic are among the German, Hungarian or other minorities. The decorative folk-art tradition, with its colorful geometric motifs expressed in wood/stone carvings, textiles, pottery, and architecture remains the quintessential Romanian style. World known artists include: Nicolae Grigorescu, Teodor Aman, Stefan Luchian and Nicolae Tonitza (painters); Constantin Brancusi (sculptor); George Enescu (the founder of the modern school of Romanian music).
Written Romanian literature is paralleled by a rich folklore - lyric, epic, dramatic, and didactic - which continued till moderns times. Lyrical poetry is represented by doine (love songs), bocete (dirges), colinde (carols), and cantece (lyrics); the epic by ballads in verse and folk tales in prose; and drama by mystery plays, scenes of the Nativity (Vicleim, Irozi), new year plays (Plugusor). The didactic literature is rich in proverbs, riddles, and satiric songs. World - known writers include: Mihai Eminescu, George Cosbuc, Vasile Alecsandri, ,Lucian Blaga, Nichita Stanescu - poets; Ion Creanga, Mihail Sadoveanu, Liviu Rebreanu - novelists; Ion Luca Caragiale, Eugen Lovinescu - play writers.
Romanian Cuisine includes a number of spicy dishes, including pork, chicken, and smoke sausage accompanied by mamaliga (corn meal cooked until firm). Typical dishes are sarmalute in foi de vita (ground meat wrapped in vine leaves and served with yogurt or sour cream), sarmale (ground meat wrapped in cabbage leaves), pui la ceaun (chicken cooked in a garlic sauce), mititei (homemade Romanian sausages) and ghiveci calugaresc (vegetables cooked in oil). Desserts include cheese pancakes, crepes and plum pudding. Popular alcoholic drinks are tuica (plum brandy), mastika (grape brandy), rachiu (brandy made from a mixture of fruits) and wine.
IMMIGRATION TO CANADA
Romanians began arriving in Canada in the last quarter of the 19-th century. Most of them were coming from the provinces of Transylvania and Bukovina which belonged until 1918, to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They first settled in the prairie provinces and Quebec. More Romanians immigrated to Canada in the 1920's. A large group of refugees arrived following the Second World War, settling primarily in Ontario and Quebec. Included among the first Romanian settlers in Toronto, were officers and army personnel who were in German camps after the World War II and others who escaped from Romania's new Communist regime. They found jobs as farmers, tailors, gardeners, cleaners and in meat slaughter houses.(many of them being highly educated).
One of the first organizations were The Romanian Cultural Society on Dewson St., formed to help newcomers find employment. This organization edited "Tribuna Romana", a newspaper published for a period of three years. Cultural events were held at an Ukrainian Church Hall, on Bathurst Street.
HOLIDAYS AND CELEBRATIONS
On January 24, the Union of Principalities of 1859 is celebrated. It was the day Muntenia and Moldova were united to form the single state of Romania with Bucharest as the capital city. Special church services are held with a program to recall Romanian history and its present state in world affairs. Poems are recited as part of the celebration, along with songs and folk dancing. Bessarabia and Bucovina Day on March 27 commemorates the 1919 reunification of Bessarabia and Bucovina with Romania. Religious and community programs are held with dances and poetry recital.
May 10, Independence Day, honours the day in 1877 that Romania gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire. Celebrations are held on the nearest weekend, with religious services, speeches, dances and cultural programs.
Martyrs' Day is held the Thursday before Ascension Day or 40 days after Easter. A religious and national ceremony takes place at the martyrs' cross on the Romanian camp grounds near Hamilton. Every summer, there is a week-long Romanian camp featuring literature and cultural seminars in addition to recreational activities. It is held at the Romanian camp retreat near Hamilton and is organized by the Romanian Cultural Association "Nae Ionescu" of Hamilton. St. Mary's Chapel is located on the campgrounds along with a modern pavilion with a hall, library and meeting rooms.
In September, after the Labour Day Weekend, The Romanian Festival draws Romanians from across North America and Ontario at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto.
Cultural and religious programs on December 1-st celebrate the Union of Transylvania with Romania. It is the National Day of Romania.
Christmas celebrations include a children's Christmas party, and Colinda, a celebration in which carollers dressed in traditional Romanian costumes carry a star decorated with the Nativity scene and share good cheer with their neighbors.
ST. GEORGE ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH - The first Church and Romanian Community in Toronto
After the Second World War more Romanians immigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto. They brought with them their culture, traditions and beliefs. By 1953, those already established in Toronto, members of The Romanian-Canadian Cultural Association, started to plan the creation of a Romanian Orthodox Church in their new hometown.It seemed a hopeless undertaking. They had no money, no building, and there was no priest who could conduct services in their own language. On March 14th,1954 members of the small Romanian-Canadian community in Toronto founded their first Orthodox Parish, by buying a building on 324 Broadview Ave., where their religious and cultural activities could take place. The members of the newly created Church Community chose the Holy Great Martyr George, the Victory-Bearer and Wonder-Worker, as their patron-saint.
On May 16th, 1954 Nicolae Zelea, a young theologian from Hamilton, was elected to be the first priest of the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church of Toronto. Born on January 8th, 1916 in Boian, and graduated at the Faculty of Theology in Cernauti, then both part of Romania, he was ordained priest on June 20th ,1954, in Montreal. The church's first Liturgical Service was held by the newly priest on June 27th, 1954. Lots of Romanians participated at this service being overwhelmed by the emotion and happiness that their dream came true.
On October 29th, 1954 Saint George Church was registered under the jurisdiction of His Eminence Archbishop Valerian of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America from "Vatra Romaneasca", Detroit, USA. The Romanian Community continued to develop every year. New members joined it and the books showed a much better financial situation. As a result, on July 1st, 1970 the Saint George Parish decided to buy another building, a former Anglican Church on 247 Rosethorn Ave., which was decorated in a traditional Orthodox style. On April 23-24th, 1971, during the celebration of Saint George, the patron of the parish, His Eminence Archbishop Valerian gave his blessings to the new church building and its parish members.
At age 65, Father Nicolae Zelea retired on February 1st, 1981 after 26 years of devotion to God and to the Romanian Orthodox community in Toronto. Later on, for all his merits demonstrated over the years, he was elevated to the rank of Archpriest in 1991 by His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel from "Vatra Romaneasca". After Father Zelea's retirement in 1981, until 1990, the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Parish in Toronto was served by several priests. However, none of them became permanent for this parish. In chronological order they were Father Nicolae Tanase (1981-1983), Father Sterie Mihadas (1983-1986 and 1989-1990) and Father Mihai Handrabur (1986-1989). During this time, even though there were so many changes, the parish kept its candle alive and it continuously developed.
On May 13th 1990, the Parish Council concluded the selection of a permanent priest. On June 10th, 1990, the Parish General Assembly elected Father Ioan Bunea from Hamilton . He was born on January 1st 1955, in the city of Victoria, Brasov, Romania, and graduated the Faculty of Theology in Sibiu, also in Romania. This represents the beginning of a new and flourishing period in the history of the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church in Toronto. During the last 20 years this church was fully renovated and re-decorated, becoming a beautiful sample of a traditional Romanian orthodox church. The building was decorated with mural orthodox icons in Byzantine style, the Romanian iconographer Nicolae Enachi hand-painting the entire interior between the years of 1997 and 1999. The new iconostasis, designed by Father Ioan Bunea, was handcrafted in oak by a group of sculptors from the Neamt County, Romania, coordinated by Mihai Croitoriu. The icons on the iconostasis were painted by Marian Verza, a religious artist from Sibiu, Romania. The installation of the new iconostasis was finalized at the end of 2002. The parish hall, known as the Romanian Cultural Centre "Dacia", was also fully renovated with volunteer work under the supervision and guide of father Ioan Bunea and Dan Chirtu.
In 2004, the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church in Toronto celebrated its 50th Anniversary with blessings from Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop Irineu Archbishop Nicolai and many priest. After that a new addition to the north side of the Church's building was completed, with three towers in the orthodox tradition, an elevator for the elderly and challenge persons, with granite flors for the hallways, modern washrooms, a classroom for Sunday School and a future Chapel. All this were possible at the initiative, ideas and supervision of father Ioan Bunea, with great help from all parishioniers by donations or volunteer work guided by Ioan Haba and Petru Dalea. The religious activity of the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Parish in Toronto was accompanied through the years by numerous social and cultural events prepared by several organizations created within the parish. Here is the list of these organizations and the years they were founded: The Ladies Reunion founded in 1963, The Romanian Cultural Association "Dacia" created in 1972, The Sunday School created in 1990 and The Seniors Association founded in 1992. Over the years the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Parish in Toronto was visited by important guests from Romania, Europe and North America. We name here just a few of them: His Eminence Archbishop Valerian - Vatra Romaneasca, His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, His Grace Bishop Irineu, His Eminence Metropolitan Iosif - Western Europe, His Majesty Michael I - King of Romania, Her Majesty Ileana - Princess of Romania (who later became a nun known as Sister Alexandra), Aron Cotrus - Romanian poet from Transilvania, Ronald Michener - President of the Federal Parliament of Canada (who later became the Governor General of Canada) as well as Nathan Phillips - Mayor of Toronto, and Honourable Alan Tonks MP, Parliament of Canada. Today, St. George is Toronto's largest Romanian Church. The Church is the focal point of religious and cultural activities for the community's 30,000 romanians.
2010, September 12 - On this date, the Saint George Parish in Toronto received from the Episcopate of Vatra Românească a religious box containing relics of four great Orthodox saints: Holy Great Martyr and Victory Bearer Saint George, the Church Patron Saint, the Holy Hierarch Saint John Chrysostom - Archbishop of Constantinople, the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Saint Panteleimon, Holy Hierarch Saint Nectarius the Taumaturg (the cancer healer). Starting 2010, the relics box has been placed inside the Church, all believers having the opportunity to kneel and pray in front of these relics.
2011-2013 - Starting with the 2011-2012 school year, with the support of Father Ioan Bunea and Preoteasa Mihaela (the Sunday School Principal) a new class dedicated to young adolescents with ages between 11 and 18 years was established. The educational and religious program of this class was entrusted to Mr. Cristian Zamrii (at that time a student at the Faculty of Theology). The first initiative embraced with enthusiasm by the youth students was the resumption of the caroling tradition on Christmas Eve, which continued to present under the coordination of Eliza and Cristian Zamrii.
In 2013, after 23 years of uninterrupted activity at Sunday School, to maintain the Romanian language and Orthodox Christian faith for the children of our parish, Preoteasa Mihaela Bunea decides to withdraw from the coordination of the Sunday School founded by herself in 1990. Mrs. Eliza Ghinea-Zamrii was appointed to coordinate the activity of the school starting with the 2013- 2014 school year. After graduating the Faculty of Theology with a Master's Degree in Theological Studies, Mr. Cristian Zamrii is appointed as Principal of Sunday School starting in 2015.
Starting in 2013, Sunday School has benefited from a new classroom located in the extension of the North part of the building built in 2008. Thus, the educational and religious mission continued successfully for all children (4-10 years) and youth (11-18 years old) from our parish. Thanks to the effort of the volunteer teachers for this school (Eliza Ghinea Zamrii, Cristina Teoderaşcu, Alina Pătra, Melania Puşcaş, Anca Popa and Cristian Zamrii) classes for both student groups were conducted without interruption and the organized activities presented by them got diversified. Apart of the traditional Christmas concert, starting in 2014, a School Year-End concert has been organized in the month of June, while starting in 2017 the “Mărţişorului” Gala has also been established (a talent show on the first Sunday of March). In addition, Sunday school students participate with short poetic and choral programs within other events organized by our community throughout the calendar year. At the end of each school year, upon the award ceremony for all students of the Sunday School, the Sunday School graduates of that year (the 18 years old students) are celebrated; the first graduates were: Edward Bangala and Andrei Iorga (2016), Ana-Maria Zamrii (2018), Mara Boldiş and Maria Mihu (2019).
2013 - During this year, in the new space created in the North part of the building, completed in 2008, a small shop of religious books and religious objects was established. Among Holy Bibles, psalteries, prayer books and theological writings, believers can obtain beautiful icons made by Romanian monks from the monasteries at Mount Athos (Greece). Titu Blaga and Gheorghe Teoderaşcu, with passion and faith, manage the administration of this shop, a true oasis of orthodoxy for all the faithful who enter the Saint George Romanian Church in Toronto.
2014, September 20-21 - During these days the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church in Toronto celebrated the 60th anniversary of its existence. The event was of great importance because, after many years of human and financial effort carried by the parishioners of this Church under the patronage of Father Ioan Bunea, for the enhancement of this authentic House of God, it was time for a re-consecration of the church building.
Thus, in the afternoon of September 20th, His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop Irineu, Father Dan Hoar]te, and Father David Oancea, as honour guests invited from the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of Vatra Românească arrived for this religious celebration, followed by the Service of Vespers. The guests of honour were accompanied by the Parish Priest Ioan Bunea and a group of priests consisting of: Fr. Dumitru Ichim (Kitchener), Fr. Ionel Cudriţescu (Toronto), Fr. Antonel Dumitru and Fr. Ştefan Morariu (Aurora), Fr. Ciprian Paşca (Thornhill), Fr. Cornel Sârjiţă (Niagara), Fr. Viorel Tencaliuc (Toronto), Fr. Vasile Aileni (Toronto), Fr. Ioan Rădulescu (Stoney Creek), Fr. Deacon Dan Chirtu. After the religious program on Saturday evening, the Parish Council (whose president was Mr. Ioan Haba), in collaboration with the Ladies’ Association (President - Mrs. Georgeta Petrescu), organized in the Dacia Hall a gathering for all people who participated, guests and parishioners. On this occasion, some of the students of the Sunday School, coordinated by Mr. Cristian Zamrii, presented an anniversary program consisting of Romanian poems and religious songs.
On Sunday, September 21st, many believers attended the Divine Liturgy service officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel joined by an assembly of priests from Toronto. The festive banquet organized on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of this parish was hosted by the Meridian Banquet Hall. Present at this event were the guests from the Romanian Episcopate at Vatra Românească but also Mrs. Antonela Marinescu, the General Consul of Romania in Toronto, as well as Mr. Corneliu Chişu, member of the Canadian Federal Parliament at Ottawa, who congratulated the parish on behalf of Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper.
2018 - Starting in February of this year, on the initiative of Father Ioan Bunea, youth students from the Sunday School (supported by parents) resumed the tradition of folk dances ensemble. With great patience and dedication, Mrs. Rodica Balaci prepares these young people to learn the mastery of folk dances from several Romanian folk regions. Even though the current group is still small (the six dancers are Cristina Am`riu\ei, Laura Deboveanu, Nicole P`tra, Nicholas Andrei, Alex Balaci and Vlad Zamrii), they already had 3 representations.
2018, December 1 - Same as previous years, the National Day of Romania was celebrated in the Saint George community of Toronto. However, the 2018 anniversary had a greater importance due to the 100th anniversary of the Great Romania. Thus, one of the several events organized by Romanians in Canada was the one coordinated by all Romanian Orthodox parishes in Metro Toronto and Southern Ontario, a ceremony hosted by the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church in Toronto. The service of remembrance for the Romanian heroes as well as the Te-Deum service of praising and thanksgiving to God were oficiated by a group of priests composed of Parish Priest Father Ioan Bunea, Father Florian Ene (Aurora) - the initiator of this anniversary celebration, Father Protopop Ionuţ Maerean (Kitchener), Father Antonel Dumitru and Father Ştefan Morariu (Toronto), Father Petre Busuioc (Oshawa), Father Vasile Aileni (Toronto), Father Ciprian Paşca (Shomberg), Father Cornel Sârjiţă (Niagara), Father Dan Chirtu (Markham).
The reception, which was attended by more than 200 people, was hosted by the Dacia Hall beautifully decorated for this great celebration. Among the invited guests were Mr. Daniel Ene, the General Consul of Romania in Toronto, and Mr. Tony Ruprecht, a Canadian politician of Romanian origin. All participants sang patriotic songs alongside the "Armonia" Choir (Conducted by Augustin Medan), the Aurora parish choir (directed by Father Florian Ene), the youth choir of the Saint George parish (coordinated by Eliza and Cristian Zamrii), but also by the priests Antonel Dumitru, Ştefan Morariu, Vasile Aileni and Florian Ene. A true celebration in unity of all Christian Orthodox Romanians.
It is worthwhile to note the effort that has been made in recent years to coordinate many activities in the parish community (mentioning here 3 main events that have already become traditional and are of great success every year are: "Balul Mustului" in October, the New Year's Eve party, and the Symeon/Magna Park picnic in July) by Mr. Cristian Mateş (President of the Parish Council), Mrs. Simona Andrei (President of the Ladies’ Association). Mr. Marius Bangala (Vice-President), Mr. Dumitru Doncev (Epitrop/Trustee and Administrator) and Mr. Gheorghe Teoderaşcu (auditor) helped by other members of the Parish Council.
The Divine Liturgy was the spiritual food provided to all the parishioners through the Grace received from God by the Parish Priest Father Ioan Bunea; in the most recent years, he was helped by the following cantors Ovidiu Cozubaş, Bogdan Stoenescu, Alexandru Tomescu, Ilie Puşcaş, Alexandru Solomon, Emanuel Istrate, by the Church Choir directed by Professor Nicolae Chirilă, but also by the altar boys, Edward Bangala, Andrei Iorga, Paul Mateş, Vlad Zamrii, Alexander Boldiş, Nicholas Andrei and Alex Balaci.
There have been 65 years of effort, prayer and patience; 65 years in which the parish members worked hard to demonstrate love for thier neighbour but also for God, who rewarded them with health and power to finish what they had begun. We, who have built with faith in God, will keep the hope and the good thought of the Day of fulfillment.
The bigest accomplisment is the high number of parishioners coming to church every Sunday, the growing number of those that are getting involved in organizing various events, the peace and happiness of Romanians from Toronto when they realize that we are better and more united people, as it should be among brothers.
Virtual tour inside of the church (use mouse to control the speed)
Home | The church | Directions | The priest | Religious services | Sunday school | "Dacia" hall | Books and icons | Română
©1999- Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church - Toronto
Last update: May 15, 2020