Welcome to the church

Short Story

The Romanian Orthodox Parish ‘Saint Andrew the Apostle’ (ROPSAASA – Romanian Orthodox Parish “Saint Andrew the Apostle”in South Africa) is the first and, for the time being, the single Romanian Orthodox parish on the African continent. In the year 2000, a community of Romanian Orthodox believers from Johannesburg gathered to praise God, together with Father MIRCEA CORPODEAN (under the form of association SARCOA – Saint Andrew Romanian Christian Orthodox Association). On the 7th, February, 2002, the parish was officially registered in the Official Register of Companies in Johannesburg. This took form through the involvement of His Eminence IOSIF, Metropolitan of Western and Meridional Europe, with the blessing of His Beatitude TEOCTIST, at that time Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and His Sanctity PETROS VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, and with the efforts of Father MIRCEA CORPODEAN, who gathered around him large-hearted people, voluntarily involved in the spiritual raising of this parish.

Through the sustained material and moral efforts of a small Romanian community and with the Romanian Patriarchate’s support, the parish, with its organized spiritual, social and cultural activities, has contributed in keeping of the Romanian Orthodox faith and values among the believers and within the framework of South African society.

During the 2000-2002 period, the Holy Services have been performed in private spaces, and in 2002-2008, together with Greek, Afrikaans and English people, Romanians participated in these at the ‘Saint Nicholas of Japan’ Church in Brixton suburb, Johannesburg. The services were performed in English, Greek and Romanian. During the February 2008 – July 2008 period, the religious services took place in a special chapel arranged at the priest’s residence in Edenvale suburb. In the summer of 2008, Father MIRCEA CORPODEAN asked his transfer to a Romanian parish from Auckland, New Zealand.

Since August, 1st, 2008, the young priest RĂZVAN TATU, former teacher of Religion and History of Religions at the “Al. I. Cuza” National College in Ploieşti (2002-2008 period), was, by the will of God and with the blessing of His Beatitude DANIEL, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, appointed Parish Priest of this parish.

Since the arrival in South Africa, the Holy Services have been performed at the ‘Saint Nektarios’ Church in Orange Grove suburb, together with Rev. Fr. Athinodoros Papaevripiadis, with the blessing of His Eminence SERAPHIM, Metropolitan of Johannesburg and Pretoria. In March 2008, when Father TATU made a reconnaissance journey to Johannesburg, he met approximately 30 families, served the Holy Liturgy, the Holy Unction, the Holy Confession and the Small Blessing of the Water.

The Romanians in South Africa have always felt the need of having a church of theirs, in which to praise God by services performed in Romanian language. In this regard, they succeeded to buy a land of 10 000 square metres, in the residential area of Midrand, with the support of Mr PETRU MORAR, Mr GEORGE O’BRIEN, Mr LUCIAN GÂLCOI and with the whole Romanian community’s effort, together with Father CORPODEAN.

Initially, there has been posed the question of selling the land, according to the approval given by His Beatitude DANIEL, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The steps for obtaining an approval in this regard had started yet since the year 2007, this thing being necessary in order to buy a house with a land, on which a worship place to be built, this having been discussed at the first parish council meeting after Father TATU had arrived to Johannesburg. After having met with the Chairman of the parish, Mr IOAN MARCEL BIAN, and several families of Romanian believers and having realized the unanimous desire of having a place destined only for the Romanians, people have decided that the land wouldn’t be sold.

On the 15th, December, 2010, our parish has obtained the special consent to build a place of worship on the plot situated in Midrand from the Municipality of Johannesburg. On the 27th, January, 2011, by the great kindness and good faith of the Romanian family CECILIA and GABRIEL CANAHAI, Geological Engineers, in the presence of Rev. Fr. RĂZVAN TATU and Mr. IOAN ANDREI, Parish Epitropos at that moment, the geological investigation of the plot has been done, showing that the soil was good for building. The report has been submitted to the City of Johannesburg by late Mrs GIS NEDELCU, the Romanian specialist engineer who helped the parish at the Municipality. On the 25th, August, 2011, His Beatitude Father DANIEL, PATRIARCH OF THE ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, approved the amount of R 253 560 as financial help for our parish. Our parish will always express its deep and unlimited gratitude to His Beatitude for this priceless help. On the 12th, December, 2011, our parish received the letter of approval from JRA (Johannesburg Roads Agency). On the 13th, July, 2012, the SDP (Site Development Plan) designed by Mr MARK DE KLERK, Architect, has been approved by City of Johannesburg. In August 2012, the access road, the fences, the gates and the cleaning of the plot have been done. In September, the water connection on the plot has also been achieved, all these with the paid with the money received from the Patriarchate of Romania and from the parishioners. In 2010, our family has donated the church project from Romania. It was necessary here to have a project in English, Mr Mark de Klerk following the plans from Romania. In order to have the approval of the plans, the plot – which was agricultural – of the Parish had to be excised, a thing which was done with the help of the City of Johannesburg and the Government of Gauteng Province. These plans have been signed by the specialist engineer Lyonell Fliss, a beloved member of our community. The building plans have been approved on the 31st, October, 2012. To all of them we express deep gratitude and love, on behalf of all parishioners. On the 16th, November, we went on the plot with a land surveyor, so that he could set out the church, the place of the Foundation Stone and the sanitation group.

All this time, we had the great help from His Eminence DAMASKINOS, Metropolitan of Johannesburg and Pretoria, our Hierarch here, to whom we express all our filial love and gratitude in Christ our Lord. After the period served at “Saint George” Hotel Chapel, we served in different Greek Orthodox parishes, and from 2nd, December, with the High Blessing of His Eminence DAMASKINOS, Metropolitan of Johannesburg and Pretoria, we shall serve at the Holy Trinity Chapel from the Metropolis.

On the 12th, January, 2013, a historical moment happened for our community: the foundation stone for the first Romanian church in Africa has been laid by His Eminence DAMASKINOS, Metropolitan of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and His Grace PETRONIU, Bishop of Sălaj (who was on visit here in Johannesburg with the high blessing of His Beatitude Father DANIEL, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and His Beatitude Father THEODOROS II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa), during a special service in Midrand, on the plot of the parish. All our deep gratitude and love in Christ for the people who warmly contributed in organizing the ceremony and to those who help the parish! On the 13th, the Divine Liturgy has been officiated by His Grace Petroniu and the Very Rev. Protopresbyter Răzvan Vasile Tatu, Parish Priest, at the Holy Metropolis. On the 20th, His Eminence DAMASKINOS and His Grace Petroniu, have offered together the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Church of Saint Athanasios the Great in Benoni, on the blessed occasion of the feast of this parish.

By the grace of God-the Holy Trinity, with the support of the Romanian Patriarchate and of our Beloved Brother in Christ Mr Ioan Cuemjiev, on the great day of 3 June 2014, the works for the building of the first Romanian Orthodox church on the African continent commenced. This future church shall constitute a Romanian Orthodox testimony on the African continent. By this, physically speaking, we can say that the true body of the whole Romanian community is being born. To take part in this completely historical opportunity, we wait for all of you and everybody to contribute in the Parish account, so that we could make the power connection and to develop further this unique Romanian project.