Father Vasile Mihai

An Autobiographical Sketch

I was born and grew up in Romania, a country where Orthodoxy is not only the predominant religion, but also the unbroken thread tightly knit in our culture and history. In the countryside, where I was born, the new atheistic and materialistic ideas aggressively pushed by the Communist government could not easily penetrate because the Romanian peasants kept Orthodoxy and the Church in deep respect.

My parents owned some land and consequently were labeled as kulaks (landowners) and submitted to all kind of persecutions, from giving up the crop, to stints of six months in labor camps, and to digging trenches for two years in the nearest town.

I pursued a technical career, knowing that the technical field was less polluted by the ideological factor. In May 1976, I graduated from college with a B.Sc. in computer sciences. In February of 1984, I graduated from Law School; I did not pursue a career in that field being aware of the meddling of politics into justice.

I married in May of 1976 and soon we had two children. My wife Danielle and I both worked as analyst programmers. In June of 1981, I was accepted as researcher associate at the University of Bucharest, with a specialization in mathematical modeling in social sciences. In my scientific works (at the time co-author of one book, 6 articles published abroad, and 22 in Romania) I was expected to paint in rosy colors a crude reality and to include in my writings quotations from the "works" of the Dictator (Ceausescu) and his wife; the refusal to do so, was punished in different ways, one being the denial to travel abroad.

The humiliation inflicted on me and my family, as well as the reluctance of my generation to act against the regime, was major factors in my decision to find a way out of the country. On June 6, 1987, I defected and after two weeks I arrived in a camp for refugees, in Latina, Italy. I lived for one year in the camp and I had to withstand the psychological pressures of an inherent insecurity and the burden of a long period of waiting for departure into a country of immigration.

In early June of 1988, I was settled in Jacksonville, Florida, where I was waiting for my family to come and join me. We were reunited after three long years of separation, and we made efforts to integrate into a new country; the life in the U.S. healed our hardened souls, restored our peace of mind, joy of life, and desire to study. My interest for theology revived and grew again. Every member of our family became enthusiastically involved in church activities. I took adult Bible classes, I taught Sunday School classes, I have been a member of the Parish Council and Treasurer, I became involved in mission work and I participated in a mission to Haiti in the summer of 1996. Later on I led a mission in Alaska {2001}.

In Jacksonville, Florida, I worked for 9 years in the same company, first as analyst programmer and then as senior analyst programmer. In this period of time, we were naturalized as U.S. citizens, our daughter went to college and we bought a house. Then I realized that as busy as we had been trying to survive in the last ten years, we did not give enough praises to God. So, the idea to study for the priesthood came back in my mind. Consulting with my family, with my spiritual Father, and with my parish priest, I made the decision to enroll at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA, in the fall of 1996. I graduated on May 15, 1999, being able to finish the four-year Master of Divinity program in three years.

I was ordained to the deaconate by His Grace Bishop Philotheos of Meloa on November 30, 1998, in Randolph, New Jersey. I served as a deacon in the School’s chapel on working days and at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church in Randolph, New Jersey, on weekends.

I was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on June 6, 1999 at St. George’s Cathedral in Greenville, SC, by His Grace Bishop Alexios of Atlanta, and I started my work as parish priest at the Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church in Greensboro, NC. During my tenure at the Dormition, the membership grew from 114 families to about 200 families.

During the years 2003 to 2006 I completed a doctoral program at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and I submitted my dissertation on May 2006 with the title: “Living under expectations: Canonical aspects of the seven sacraments in the Orthodox Church.”

On July 1st, 2005, I was assigned as parish priest at St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Savannah. From the first days of my assignment I got involved in the ministries and activities of the parish as well as in the liturgical life of the St. George’s Chapel in Brunswick, a mission of our parish. Also I tried to make our faith and our parish known to other Christian and non-Christian people of faith, through, Church Tours, Tri-Church Festival, Interfaith Services, Houses of Worship Tours, speeches and presentations to the people or in the local media.

There are many expectations from an Orthodox priest; as I am trying to fulfill them, I cannot forget that my main task is to help people grow in faith and commitment, to make known to them God’s grace and love. My greatest satisfaction comes from the fact that many people of this parish and town made me part of their lives and so all together we can enjoy the wonderful riches promised to us by Almighty God.

Summary:
Born: 03/16/52
Place of birth: Romania
Studies and titles: Computer Sciences (1976), Bucharest, Romania, B.Sc.
Law School (1984), Bucharest, Romania, J.D.
Holy Cross School of Theology (1999), Boston, MA, M.Div.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (2006), Pittsburgh, PA, D.Min
Ordination: 11/30/98 – Ordination to Deaconate
06/06/99 – Ordination to Priesthood
Family: Wife, Danielle, and two children, Irene Whitt and Eugene Mihai
Languages: Romanian (native), English, French, Italian, Greek