National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  September 19, 2003

‘Present the drama of our faithfulness’

In 1994, long before they envisioned their current project, Srs. Margaret Nacke and Mary Savoie had an interview in Cluj, Romania, with Greek Catholic Bishop Gheorghe Gutiu and his vicar general. The two men spent 14 years in prison and said every day they were offered their freedom if they would abandon their commitment to the Catholic church and support the state-controlled Orthodox church instead.

Gutiu called the sufferings that he and others in the Greek Catholic church endured the mystical way in which they had helped the West. “If we made such a mystical investment in the Western church, surely the Western church will make an investment now to assist us physically in our apostolate,” said Gutiu, who retired in 2002.

Gutiu pleaded with the two women to tell his story, to tell the West how the Catholic people in Romania suffered under communism, and to report to U.S. Catholics the current needs of the Greek Catholic church.

“He said you think more of rhinoceroses than you do of us,” Nacke recalled, who kept written notes of the interview with Gutiu and remembers it as one of the most powerful meetings she and Savoie had while they were in Romania. There, after a communist government came to power, the Greek Catholic church was dissolved in 1948 and the six Greek Catholic bishops in Romania arrested. Five of the six bishops died in prison. Priests, monks and lay people who would not switch their allegiance to the Orthodox church were also imprisoned.

“Our poverty does not allow us to go to America and speak of our current struggles and needs. But please, you can present the drama of our faithfulness,” Gutiu told Nacke and Savoie.

Years later, his words have taken hold in the women’s plans to establish a center in the United States that would preserve the stories of Catholics who suffered under the communist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe.

-- Margot Patterson

National Catholic Reporter, September 19, 2003

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