Men We Love: Fr. George Calciu

[National Review Online, February 14, 2006]

For a feature titled “Men We Love”

In a life blessed by many strong and honorable men, worthy of love, the one I’d like to celebrate here is an 80-year-old priest. In 1948, at the age of 22, Father George Calciu was arrested and held in the dread Pitesti prison in Bucharest, Romania. That institution was designed specifically to break down and “re-educate” — brainwash — young men, in order to transform them into the ideal “Communist Man.” During this horrific experience, he saw the grace and fortitude with which imprisoned clergy bore and transformed their sufferings. After release he was ordained, and his bold preaching led to further arrests. His story is full of both life-threatening moments and miracles.

Although targeted for death by Ceaucescu, Fr. George survived and emigrated to the United States. He now pastors a small Romanian Orthodox Church in Alexandria, VA, and still works full-time, even at his age, even after quintuple bypass surgery. He is small of stature with a crown of white hair and a brilliant smile, and has seemingly limitless energy. His boldness is undiminished after all these decades; I think of him as a “little lion.” I am very blessed that Fr. George Calciu is my spiritual father and confessor.

About Frederica Matthewes-Green

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a wide-ranging author who has published 10 books and 800 essays, in such diverse publications as the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal. She has been a regular commentator for National Public Radio (NPR), a columnist for the Religion News Service,, and Christianity Today, and a podcaster for Ancient Faith Radio. (She was also a consultant for Veggie Tales.) She has published 10 books, and has appeared as a speaker over 600 times, at places like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Wellesley, Cornell, Calvin, Baylor, and Westmont, and received a Doctor of Letters (honorary) from King University. She has been interviewed over 700 times, on venues like PrimeTime Live, the 700 Club, NPR, PBS, Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. She lives with her husband, the Rev. Gregory Mathewes-Green, in Johnson City, TN. Their three children are grown and married, and they have fourteen grandchildren.