Romanian diaspora presbyteras meet for first onsite conference in Heidelberg under St Nonna’s protection

The “Saint Nonna” International Presbyteras Group organized its first conference in Heidelberg, Germany, on September 30 – October 2, 2022.

The meeting was held in partnership with the Romanian Church Centre in Munich and the Romanian Parish in Heidelberg-Bruchsal.

The discussion focused on the theme “The presbytera in the West in quest of identity and the purpose of life,” which involved over forty priests’ wives from Romania, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, and Spain.

Assistant Bishop Sofian of Brașov celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the opening of the first onsite conference of Romanian presbyteras. Photo: Facebook / Episcop Sofian Brașoveanul

The attendees gathered on Saturday morning for prayer with His Grace Assistant Bishop Sofian of Brașov, who led the Divine Liturgy in Heidelberg’s “Holy Trinity” Parish. In addition, many presbyteras offered liturgical answers at the chant stand.

The Assistant Bishop to the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg delivered a brief opening speech to the gathering.

Assistant Bishop Sofian of Brașov offered his blessings and words of encouragement to the Romanian presbyteras. Photo: Facebook / Episcop Sofian Brașoveanul

In addition, the hierarch posted a message about the gathering on Facebook, saying, “I am very happy to participate in the meeting as a sign of appreciation for the self-giving and frequently sacrificial ministry of the presbyteras, who frequently complement and double the activity of the parish priests in the parochial communities in which they operate, as well as to look together for ways of support and encouragement both for them personally and for their activity.”

Presbytera Cristina Benga delivered a lecture titled “You are not born a presbytera. You become a presbytera.” The attendees discussed the function of a priest’s wife in the community and the Church’s mission.

Presbytera Cristina Benga coordinates the St Nonna presbyteras group. Photo: Facebook / Episcop Sofian Brașoveanul

Presbyteras Adina Gilla from Tübingen, Germany, and Cristina Iacob from Lugo, Spain, led practical workshops in the afternoon on Saturday. The courses’ topics were “Presbytera and Mother, joy and challenge in a desacralized world” and “By giving you will gain – How can I find myself as a presbytera in the society in which I serve?”

The conference’s first day continued with a plenary presentation of the workshops’ findings, followed by a tour around Heidelberg.

Following was a session on finding new ideas for the Saint Nonna international group of presbyteras and exploring the group’s potential.

Wives of Romanian priests in the diaspora met for the first time in Heidelberg to discuss the challenges they face in Western society. Photo: Facebook / Episcop Sofian Brașoveanul

The meeting between His Grace Assistant Bishop Sofian and the group of presbyteras from Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg marked the end of the day.

After participating in the hierarchical Liturgy held at the “Holy Trinity” Parish in Heidelberg on Sunday, the group spent the day socializing.

Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Romanian Parish in Heidelberg. Photo: Facebook / Episcop Sofian Brașoveanul

Presbytera Cristina Benga posted on her Facebook page, “We returned to our houses with a more enlightened mind, with a calmer soul, and with the hope that God always arranges what is profitable for us.”

St Nonna international group of presbyteras. Photo: Facebook / Episcop Sofian Brașoveanul

“It was a conference that met spiritual and Western claims and expectations. We are grateful to have met people with grace and the gift of love for our fellow humans, and we ask St. Nonna to provide us protection.”

The Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Italy will serve as the conference’s host in 2023.

Photography courtesy of Assistant Bishop Sofian of Brașov

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