The Latest News from the Assumptionist Foundation in Bucharest Print

(the following is a letter sent by Fr. Michel Kubler, AA, superior of the new community, to his friends)

Dear Friends,

Michel Kubler, A.A.Thank you for the many wonderful responses I received from the first letter I sent out four months ago. The new year presents a perfect opportunity to bring you up to date  on what has been happening.

Although I was supposed to arrive in Bucharest on September 14, 2010,  I decided to come a day early because of the death of Fr. Bernard Stef. This Assumptionist was an esteemed figure in the Greco-Catholic Church (Oriental rite) to which he remained faithful in spite of some of the worst persecutions. I wanted to try my best to be present at his funeral, and it was a powerful symbol that my new community was united for the first time to bid farewell to this older brother of ours who left us at the very moment our house in Bucharest was being reborn. If you believe in signs, well, the day of my arrival in Romania was the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, which filled me with the conviction that it was the right time to be turning the page on my former life, my 20 years at a newspaper (La Croix) of the same name. The following day - therefore, my first full day in our new house - the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, under whose patronage the Assumptionist mission in Eastern Europe, to which I am now committed to serve, has been placed.

Assumptionist Community - Bucharest, Romania To serve how and for what? In my first letter, I spoke about the mission of our community here in Bucharest: to promote dialogue between Eastern and Western Christians, in view of unity among all the disciples of Christ and to do this in a country that is 88% Orthodox. The means we are using is our center "Unitate" for Byzantine studies and ecumenical encounters, which has three principal activities each of which is overseen by one religious:
- a center for Christian students which opened its doors at the beginning of last semester in October; ten students, Catholic (from both rites) and Orthodox, under the direction of Fr. Ovidiu, share our daily life: prayer, meals, chores, recreation, etc.
- the Byzantine library, specializing in Eastern Christianity (15,000 volumes) which arrived from our communities in Athens and Rome and which is currently being set up by Fr. Lucian and Sr. Maria, an Oblate of the Assumption; once it is ready, it will be open to the public.
- a center for ecumenical dialogue with a program of conferences, discussions, debates, and inter-confessional seminars on questions of Church and State, under my responsibility. Because of the sensitive nature of this activity, we have decided to invite a number of guests to help us put it into action.

There will be an official inauguration for the center and its activities on Monday, January 17, the eve of the week of Prayer for Christian Unity, with guests from all the major churches in Romania; of special note will be a conference by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs on the role of Christians in European society! I met this man, a theologian by formation, in 1999, when he was the ambassador of Romania to the Holy See at the time of John Paul II's first trip to an Orthodox country. It was during this trip that the Romanian people cried out spontaneously both to the Pope and the Patriarch "Unitate"!

Unfortunately, twelve years have gone by and feelings are quite the same. When I tested the waters with various people regarding the name of the center, I sensed real reservations: the name "Unitate," for some, had connotations of imposition, of proselytism! Even the simple term "ecumenism" which we placed in our mission statement appeared suspect to some; some made it clear to me that it wasn't "politically correct" in today's Romania! In order to keep our doors open, we have decided to set aside these two words (for the time being) and simply to give our house the name "Saint Peter – Saint Andrew". But we are still going to maintain our mission : to have Christians of every stripe meet each other at our house in order to know and appreciate each other better. So that there may grow among all --- ourselves included--- a thirst for the unity for which Christ prayed.

So our community's project has kept me quite busy, not to mention doing "ecumenism" within the local church, that is to say between Catholics of the Latin and Byzantine rites (something which Fr. Cornelisse is tending to for us). But there are other things that keep me going, especially two:

- learning Romanian: having completed nearly two months at the Romanian cultural center, I am now entering a phase of personal study of the language in my new home country. I celebrated Mass in Romanian for the first time the day after Christmas and would like to begin preaching by Easter. My brothers here in the community, anxious to see Romanian become the language of the house, will surely help me!!!!

- the French-speaking parish of Bucharest: in order for me to get a break on Sunday, at least as far as language for the Mass is concerned  I am more than happy to celebrate the Eucharist regularly with the French ex-pat community here in Bucharest, which is quite young ad vibrant, currently under the direction of a Belgian Jesuit.

…I have been elected a delegate to our general chapter to be held in Rome this coming May. I am already one of the members of the preparatory committee and we still have some work to do before the chapter. As if this were not enough, the provincial of France has also asked me to be his delegate for our communities in Eastern Europe, all eight them collectively dedicated to ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue: already having spent a week in Athens and one in Moscow, I will soon be going to Jerusalem, then Istanbul then Plovdiv (Bulgaria, .....!

There you have it: the adventure has only begun, but I'm 'lovin' it already! Of course, I miss journalism a bit, France is far away (but we do have Internet here and it works), and  have a long way yet to go before I learn all the ropes of my new responsibilities. But I count on my brothers in community and you as well. Thanks for everything you can do --- sending a word, making a gift to help us out.....

Best wishes to one and all of you!


To help the new project in Bucharest:

Your first gifts were used to purchase the large and lovely icon of St. Peter and St. Andrew, the patron saints of the house, which is scheduled to arrive January 17. We still need your help for so many other projects. Can you help us? To do so, please make out your check to The Assumptionists and indicate that it is for the Bucharest project. Please send your check to:

Development Office
The Assumptionists
330 Market Street
Brighton, MA 02135

Last Updated on Monday, 17 January 2011 21:46