Greetings, and I hope that this finds you well today, and in good spirits on this most blessed day of the Theophany, and for those of the old calendar, Christmas Day.
A few weeks ago I promised to write about Botosani (northeast Romanian city with about 115,000 people), and what we were doing up there. Actually, I almost did not write about it at all, as it all felt sort of “routine” for our work here in Romania. However, many people even today do not really know what our primary goals are for the St. Dimitrie Project. Botosani was a good example of how we are working to meet those goals and so please allow me to use it as an example of what we are about over here.
About 3 years ago Fr. Iulian Negru and I did a short class in addictions and alcoholism for a group of priests in Botosani. Basically, it was explaining the disease concept of addiction, how Alcoholics Anonymous can help (although at the time it was non-existant in Botosani) and also the basic spiritual principals that are used in helping alcoholics. This spirituality is a part of our faith as Orthodox Christians, and is commonly referred to as the process of repentance (healing). Repentence also involves not just remorse, but a firm decision to change one’s life with God’s grace as the foundation and strength of the change. We throw in the disease concept for the obvious reason that it is necessary for them to know that for very objective and proven biological reasons, the alcoholic/addict cannot “learn” to drink successfully. This is also what we are teaching the psychologists and social workers over here, and also about AA and what treatment centers are about. When we started here 10 years ago, there were no treatment programs here in Romania, as you would know them.
One year ago through another AA group, AA did get a start in Botosani. Then, 6 months ago, a social worker from Botosani found out about us and our training program. She came to Cluj and spent 3 weeks with us, learning about the basic model that we use. She works with people who have mental illness, many of whom are alcoholic, and some of whom would have no symptoms after some period of sobriety.
So a month ago we hosted a small conference with the priests. We actually held it at the “Protopropriat” or headquarters for the Archdiocese. We invited the priests in town, about 20 of them, the AA member(s), the social workers, and other professionals who would have an interest. We essentially presented how everyone can work together to help the still suffering alcoholic, and what the role of each profession could be in this process. Giving this sort of information to the priests and professional community is very new in Romania, as here there is no tradition of “multidisiplinary” support of the alcoholic/addict.
Ok, enough for today, and about Botosani. I have other things to write about, but not today. Please do pray for us here in Romania, and feel free to write to us with your prayer requests as well. God works the miracle!!
In His Love,
Floyd & Ancuta Frantz
OCMC Missionaries in Romania