Basilica News Agency – 13/4/2020
It is estimated that approximately 621 thousand people of Roma origin live in Romania, most of whom are Orthodox Christians.
The Romanian Orthodox Church has always paid attention to the mission among Roma people by intensifying its catechetical work, supporting education, and developing social assistance.
Here is a list of the top nine pastoral care programs for Roma people carried out by the Romanian Orthodox Church. These programs were also mentioned by His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel in a message occasioned by the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation of the Gypsies in the Romanian Principalities in 2016.
Institutions for Orthodox mission in the Romani community:
The Râmnic Archdiocese’s Catechetical Office for Roma people
The Social Missionary Cultural Orthodox Association for Roma People ‘Saint Moses the Black’, Cluj Archdiocese
Health care programs:
Sastipen le rromenqe – Health of Roma people Program (Râmnic Archdiocese)
Free medical assistance in the ‘Good Health for Villages’ campaign of the Romanian Patriarchate
Encouraging (religious) education in Romani language:
Printing prayer books and other religious books in Romani language
Offering free schoolbags and school supplies as part of the Mirro ghiozdano (My schoolbag) Program (Râmnic Archdiocese)
Preventing school drop-out by including Roma students in the Choose School! Program (Romanian Patriarchate in partnership with World Vision Romania)
Providing distinct places for Roma students in Theological Schools
Encouraging the ordination to the Priesthood of theology students of Roma origin to shepherd the Romani communities. Bucharest, Râmnicu Vâlcea, Slobozia, Argeş, and Bacău are the main cities in Romania where Roma priests serve today.
Building new churches for the Romani communities in urban and rural areas
Carrying out numerous awareness-raising, information and counseling activities for the inclusion of Roma people and to avoid discrimination
Hiring Roma people by different institutions established by the Dioceses
Providing free religious assistance and services for the baptism of infants of poor Roma families (Bucharest, Cluj, Galați).
Including Roma people in social reintegration or professional retraining programs carried out by the dioceses
‘We are called together, state institutions, the Church and society to each contributes to objective knowledge of the historical truth, to critically approach what was negative in the past and to contribute now to supporting the Roma minority in its social integration efforts while promoting respect for its identity and traditions,’ urged the Patriarch of Romania while remembering the history of the Romani people in Romania.
Photography courtesy of Râmnic Archdiocese