Alina Mondini

The Romanian Orthodox Parish in Zurich (by Alina Mondini)

This winter I learned for the first time that, in the region of Zurich, there is a Romanian orthodox parish. I live here since six years, I seldom met Romanians and I never thought that there could be a Romanian community in this part of Switzerland. In the same week, one after another, I went to a baptism and to the parish celebration.

The priest Romica Nicolae Enoiu and his wife Milica Enoiu are young. One Saturday afternoon the baptism is being prepared. In the small crypt of the catholic Church Saint Katherine in the North side of Zurich, the simple and modern decoration starts to change. Bright pieces of cloth cover high racks and over them Romanian icons are being set. I want to help and unwillingly I take one step. I see how the young man helping the priest looks very worried in his eyes as if asking for help without daring to tell me directly what he thinks. Gently the priest explains to me „You see, we orthodox do not allow women at the altar“. „Pardon“ … I answer embarrassed, as I realise that that simple and modern step is actually the altar. „I know. I’m orthodox myself, my grandfather served as a priest for 60 years in a small mountain village in Romania“, I try to excuse myself. At the same time, without daring to tell what I think, I ask myself how important are all these human rules compared to the real belief, the real conviction, the real respect for divinity.

On the left wall we hang a Romanian flag, candles are being lighted and the atmosphere is almost ready for the little one and his bicultural suite. The father, smiling, helpful and Swiss brings warm water in the baptism basin, the mother, beautiful, elegant and Romanian prepares the „pagan“ and the baptism starts. Everything takes place according to the rules. The priest is carrying out the service as it should be, attentive and devoted, sometimes whispering he explains someone what he or she is supposed to do. Adrian is christianised and everybody is pleased. The Swiss great-grandmother hardly recovers from the surprise of seeing the baby whole naked in the basin and taking part in an one hour ceremony. „In our church it takes only ten minutes“.

Next day I go again to the church. The annual festivity of „St. Nicolas“ and one year of parish existence are being celebrated. The crypt is full and people continue to come, the priest conducts the ceremony and his wife together with some young women give the singing answers with sincere feeling. One can breath orthodoxy. From the sermon we learn that during his „lifetime activity“, the gentle St. Nicolas saved many lives, at one important synod, together with St. Spiridon he „took a firm position“ in defending the righteous belief and therefore was „sanctioned and suspended from his bishop function“. Finally, the priest invites the parishioner to take St. Nicolas‘ life as a guide for their own Christian life.

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