[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.