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Anti-Communist Priest Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa

That Sunday, he asked their permission to celebrate Mass. He was making preparations and turned to see the two criminals kneeling on the cold concrete floor.

Throughout Father Calciu's imprisonment, the Reagan administration lobbied Ceausescu for his release. In August 1983, those efforts, and the dictator's fear that the United States would rescind its most-favored-nation trading status, led to the priest's release.

The secret police told him that he was being transferred to a special prison where he would die in anonymity. But the next day, he was released.

Father Calciu spent the next two years under house arrest before Ceausescu sent him into exile in the United States in 1985 with his wife, Adriana Calciu, and son, Andrei Calciu, both now of Burke. A grandson also survives.

The 1989 Post article described Father Calciu's face "pink as a child's and his eyes are an unclouded blue. Something in his gaze suggests the triumph of joy over anguish."

"From the beginning of my time here, I decided to tell the truth, to awaken the conscience of the Western people who thought Ceausescu was like a maverick from Communism," he said. "He was a big criminal and I knew it."

In Washington, he led demonstrations and lobbied Congress in addition to preaching radio sermons, still vocal in his criticism of atheism in Romania's government. The FBI told him in 1989 that Ceausescu had dispatched assassins who were looking for him. He hid in rural Pennsylvania for a short time, returning each weekend to celebrate Mass at Holy Cross parish. But he said he had already survived two attempts on his life by poisoning and finally shrugged off the threat. He was the pastor of Holy Cross at the time of his death.

Although the priest originally wanted to return to Romania to live, he ultimately decided that his calling was in Virginia, building the church and alerting the world to the situation in his homeland. Hundreds of people greeted him every time he returned for a visit. He will be buried in Romania.


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