‘Welcome to the capital city of Transylvanian Orthodoxy,’ metropolitan Laurentiu of Transylvania said Thursday addressing the over 3,000 participants at the International Meeting of Orthodox Youth (ITO 2018) in Sibiu.
By organizing in Sibiu the fifth edition of the International Orthodox Youth Meeting, an emblematic event of the Romanian Orthodox Church, we experience an occasion of great honour and spiritual fulfilment.
It is a chosen blessing to host many beautiful and luminous young people coming from all over Romania, but also youth from the Romanian diaspora and other Sister Churches to profess together the joy of communion and our Orthodox faith.’
That is why, with full joy, we warmly welcome you to Sibiu, the capital city of Transylvanian Orthodoxy, a city chosen and consecrated by our great protector, Saint Andrew Saguna, to be the residence of the historic Metropolis of Transylvania.
We celebrate the centennial since the achievement of a unitary Romanian National State, and the theme of this Meeting, blessed by His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel and approved by the Holy Synod of our Church, is ‘Unity. Faith. Nation’.
100 years have passed since the achievement of the Romanians’ centuries-old ideal – the 1918 Great Union.
This great achievement of our national unity and freedom was obtained with many human, spiritual and material sacrifices.
The multitude of known and unknown Romanian heroes, on whose sacrifice nowadays Romania is edified, our national freedom and dignity must remain the living conscience of our nation.
That is why, at every Divine Liturgy, with humility and piety we commemorate the heroes and martyrs of the Romanian nation everywhere who sacrificed themselves on all the battlefields for the defence of the country, for the freedom and dignity of the Romanian people.
They have defended not only the territorial integrity of our country, but also the spiritual integrity and the moral values of the Romanian people, who passed through the darkness of its troubled history with the light of faith and a proper Christian way of life.
Their remembrance calls us not to separate the gift of freedom from the gift of faith and of the moral dignity of life, because the future of our children cannot exist without morals, without faith, and without remembering the sacrificial past of our ancestors.
As His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel often notes, we have been and still are ‘a nation of the Cross and the Resurrection’.
Regardless of the boundaries that the vicissitudes of history have raised between our provinces, Romanians have kept with sacrifices their national unity and identity, having the same faith and speaking the same language.
The remembrance of our worthy ancestors, the heroes and martyrs of the nation, compels us not to forget how great the price of their sacrifice is for the gift of our unity, and thus to heal ourselves of enmity and disunity, selfishness and indifference, to defend our faith and moral values, a healthy education, a pure Romanian language and the genuine culture of the Romanian soul.
The gift of unity of faith and of nation represents the holy heritage we received from our worthy forerunners, and which we are offering with much gratitude to you, today’s youth. May you cherish and cultivate it with dignity and responsibility, so that in your turn, you may pass it on to future generations.
Beloved young people,
With these thoughts in our soul, we invite you to spend these few days in Sibiu, the beloved city of Saint Andrew Saguna, the Metropolitan of Transylvania (1864-1873), one of the greatest promoters of our national unity among Romanians in Transylvania in the second half of the 19th century, whose 210th birthday anniversary we celebrate this year.
We are confident that all the activities of these days, meetings, debates, workshops, combined with the joy of friendships, music, the discovery of ethnographic and cultural values in the Sibiu museums will enrich you spiritually and will renew in your pure hearts the love of your homeland and the ancestral Church, strengthening our consciousness of national unity and identity.
With deep gratitude and thankfulness for all those who are with us, the organizers, the partners and supporters of this event of youth and communion, which has become emblematic for the Romanian Orthodox Church, with much appreciation, we ask His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel to share with us all, with his fatherly love, his word of blessing and teaching.
Metropolitan of Transylvania
Photography courtesy of Mircea Florescu / Basilica.ro