Metropolitan Nicolae of the Americas consecrated the “Life-Giving Spring” Church in Long Valley, New Jersey on Sunday.
The wooden church, built by parish priest Ionuț Voicu in a style specific to the Romanian northern region of Maramureș, marks the Centennial of the Great Union of all Romanians in a single state. The event was attended by Bishop Iustin of Maramureș and Sătmar and Bishop Ioan Casian of Canada.
The consecration service was preceded by the Blessing of the Waters, officiated outside the place of worship, and the Divine Liturgy.
The three hierarchs were joined by Father Daniel Ene, Dean of New York, New England, and East of US, Protosyncellus Ieremia Berbec, Abbot of the Middletown Monastery in the state of New York, Archimandrite Casian Filip, Social-Philanthropic Counselor of the Maramureș and Sătmar Diocese in Romania, Fr. Ioan Socolan, Dean of Sătmar, Fr. Gabriel Gorgan from Satu Mare, Romania, Archd. Teodosie Bud, Economic Counselor of the Maramureș Diocese, Archd. Nifon Motogna, administrator of the Baia Mare Cathedral in the Romanian county of Maramureș. Dan-Andrei Muraru, Ambassador of Romania to the United States, participated in the inauguration of the church.
“God does not force anybody to believe. Here we realize that Jesus Christ shows Himself only to those who have loved and cherished Him during His earthly activity,” Bishop Iustin of Maramureș and Sătmar explained in his homily after the proclamation of the Gospel.
“For this reason, He shows Himself to the disciples in the Cenacle, entering through the locked doors and accepting a ‘check-in’ from Thomas. Why? Because the Saviour’s Resurrection from the dead needed additional testimony from the apostles.”
In the end, Metropolitan Nicolae briefly explained the meaning of the consecration service:
“It is the baptism of a church as a place containing all the baptized persons, who gather in the name of Christ, of the Most Holy Trinity, in order to bring thanksgiving and a bloodless sacrifice by celebrating the Divine Liturgy. The names of the founders and benefactors placed inside the foot of the Holy Altar Table share in the sanctity of the holy relics of the martyrs,” Bishop Iustin said.
“In the Church, we work our salvation, which we hope to foretaste even during this earthly life, through the flowing of God’s blessing. This church built in Maramureș style will be a business card of Orthodox faith,” the hierarch added.
The Romanian Metropolitan presented the Long Valley Parish with an icon of the Life-Giving Spring of the Mother of God and a blessing cross.
On behalf of Patriarch Daniel of Romania, Metropolitan Nicolae bestowed the “Patriarchal Cross” for clergy, the highest distinction in the Romanian Patriarchate, to Parish Priest Ionuț Voicu.
His Eminence also offered the “American Metropolitan Cross” for laypeople to three ladies from the parish community: Daniela V., Delia Cotigă, and Costina Maria Nițulescu, President of the Parish Council.
Bishop Iustin offered Father Ionuț Voicu the highest distinction in the Diocese of Maramureș and Sătmar: “The Voivodal Cross of Maramureș.”
The bishop bestowed two more distinctions. The New York-based Romanian doctor Radu Crăciun was awarded the Order of St Joseph the Confessor, and Bogdan Crintea received the Order of Archbishop Justinian.
Dr. Radu Crăciun and his family, Romanian residents of New York, donated the bell of the new church. An inscription on the bell reads, “We, children of the Romanian nation from all over the world, have the same origins, the same nature, and a single united language and culture.”
Works at the “Life-Giving Spring” Romanian wooden church in Long Valley started in 2018, the year marking the centennial of the Great Union of Romania. The church was built in the specific architectural style of wooden churches in the northern-Romania region of Maramureș.
The church is 32-meter high, 13-meter wide, and 30-meter long. It was built by Father Ionuț Voicu with the help of the faithful and benefactors and with advice from Father Teodor Bârsan, son of the traditional sculptor Toader Bârsan of Bârsana, Maramureș county, Romania.
The Life-Giving Spring Parish was established in 2011 and has functioned since 2016 at the following address: Long Valley, 132 California Rd., New Jersey 07853.