Oldest Romanian Orthodox Parish in US Marks 100 Years of Ministry

Hundreds of faithful gathered at the Falling Asleep of the Ever-Virgin Mary Cathedral here for the celebration of the parish’s patronal feast and its 100th anniversary Saturday and Sunday, August 14-15, 2004.

The Rev. Remus Grama, cathedral dean, and the faithful welcomed His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, who presided at the celebration. Concelebrating with Metropolitan Herman were His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada; His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston and the Albanian Archdiocese; His Grace, Bishop Irineu of Dearborn Heights, Auxiliary to the Romanian Episcopate; and His Grace, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, Auxiliary to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

The anniversary weekend opened with the celebration of a Memorial for the cathedral’s founders and departed faithful, after which Vespers for the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God was celebrated. Following Vespers, a statue of George Pomutz, a Romanian national who served as a general in the US Civil war, was unveiled. A reception followed in the cathedral hall, during which the faithful enjoyed a program of traditional Romanian dances and songs and a play highlighting the cathedral’s history.

On Sunday, August 15, a procession of hierarchs, clergy and faithful made its way to the cathedral for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, followed by a Service of Thanksgiving. A procession around the cathedral followed, during which the cathedral was blessed.

At a reception which followed the anniversary Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Herman spoke of how the cathedral’s anniversary marked a milestone in the life of the Orthodox Church in America, inasmuch as the cathedral was the first Romanian parish established in the US. Archbishop Nathaniel highlighted important moments in the cathedral’s history, while Father Grama thanked the community for their efforts in making the celebration a memorable one. Mr. Sorin Ducaru, Romanian Ambassador to the US, also addressed the audience and spoke of the importance of maintaining Romania’s culture in North America. A Synodal Citation marking the anniversary was presented to the parish on behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America.

The parish was established in 1904 on a parcel of land on Cleveland’s west side. In 1955, its present location was purchased, while the spacious cathedral was erected soon thereafter during the pastorate of the Very Rev. Vasile Hategan. The architecture blends contemporary style with traditional elements common to Romania’s Maramures region. The cathedral complex also features a classroom building, hall, and a unique museum housing a wealth of traditional religious and cultural artifacts. In the late 1990s, work began on frescoing the cathedral’s interior under the guidance of Father Grama, who has served as cathedral dean since 1989.