The Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Northern Europe, November 18, 2017 – On November 18, 2017, at the foster care center in Tampere, Finland, His Grace Macarie, Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Northern Europe, met with Camelia Smicală’s two children. The Child Protection Services in Finland removed the two siblings of double (Romanian-Finnish) citizenship from the of their mother, a Romanian medical doctor who had been given custody after she divorced a violent Finnish husband. Johan-Mihail (11) and Maria-Alexandra (10) enjoyed the visit of their spiritual father, even more so as they were thus able to receive Holy Communion.
His Grace Macarie reported about the meeting and how Johan-Mihail and Maria-Alexandra were feeling:
We rejoiced into this meeting which brought soothing to the souls of these children so early tested by life’s tribulations. Johan-Mihail and Maria-Alexandra are courageous children with strong personalities who clearly and beautifully express themselves in Romanian, a language they have never forgotten despite years of isolation. They miss their mother and elder sister and display a firm determination to return home. It is sad that they also have to suffer from the authorities’ decision to keep them in different foster care centers and to enroll them into different schools. This adds to their feeling of separation. Johan-Mihail is not happy at his school, he is intimidated by the fact that his colleagues label him as “the orphanage child”. I see no reason for these children’s staying away from their mother and sister and separated from each other. They also need to be able to go to the Divine Liturgy on Sundays, as they used to do with their mother, a custom which they have obviously been unable to practice anymore.
The Romanian clergyman thanked the staff from the foster care center where the meeting took place. He added that he would communicate the children’s wishes to the Finnish authorities, hoping they would prove open and cooperating.
At the end of the visit, Bishop Macarie offered gifts to the children, including books in Romanian published by the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Northern Europe and gifts from his latest pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
His Grace Macarie also transmitted warm thanks to Mr. Răzvan Rotundu, Ambassador of Romania to Finland, who has been very supportive of Dr. Camelia Smicală, the children’s mother, and very helpful in organizing the bishop’s visit.