Magyar News, 2001. szeptember-2002. augusztus (12. évfolyam, 1-12. szám)

2001-09-01 / 1. szám

I HAVE MET WITH GÁBOR ÖKRÖS We heard about a Hungarian Protes­tant minister travelling in Canada and the United States. Well this news doesn’t have any significant quality because many peo­ple come from Hungary, Rumania, attend­ing to their own business, or representing some institution or even some cause. One day I received a phone call from Reverend Reed, pastor of U.C.C. in Bridgeport. I was invited for lunch to meet somebody who is travelling around on behalf of a Hungarian church in Transylvania. It didn’t take much to put two and two together, and this brought my curiosity to a higher level. This must be the minister whom we have been hearing about. So it happened. The lunch was good, and meeting was upmost interesting, the travelling minister turned out to be an engineer from Temesvár. He was a tall, strong very sympathetic man. Immediately one could tell that he stands up for himself, looks you straight in the eye, and carries a glow of honesty. It was pretty impressive. So why is he considered to be a Hungarian Protestant minister? Gábor Ökrös comes from an area, south-west part of what we refer to as Transylvania, in the vicinity of Temesvár. The population in most part is Hungarian, and they try to keep it that way. Three vil­lages, Igazfalva, Facsád, and Begamonos­­tor, are held together by Reverend Dániel Csákvári. A sizeable number, a few hun­dred families work hard to preserve their heritage and the faith they grew up with. Despite the bad economic situation, low earnings, inflation, the absence of financial institutions that support Hungarian causes, the parishioners built a church. They made monetary sacrifices and put their skills and labor in order to erect the new church. What they did went far beyond imagina­tion. The funds ran out, the workers were worn out. But there is still more to finish the job. Gábor Ökrös came among us to look for help. What has he to do with these vil­lages? His family, sometime in history, moved there, and he was part of that com­munity, he came from there. He has the love for his Hungarian people deeply implanted into his heart. If one looks at the list of the 700 people who stood with Bishop Tőkés in Temesvár, facing the guns of Ceausescu, you will find the name of The new church built by the parishioners Gábor Ökrös and his family. This event was the opening of the the end to the downfall of the Communist dictatorship in Rumania. It also opened up the possibility of Hungarian communities to some degree of freedom, and to take care of their own mat­ters. Matters like building a church inplace of those that are collapsing. Gábor Ökrös was preparing to visit some of his relatives in Canada. Reverend Csákvári talked to him and asked if he would look for some help among the Hungarian protestants in the Western hemisphere. He did just that. So what was his experience? In the old country people think of rel­atives, friends, or just fellow Hungarians, as the “Dollar Papa”. The overall picture they receive is on the glamour side. Big and strong country, luxury cars, and the list goes on. But there is reality too. Difficulties, hardship, tightening the belt, fatigue. Specially when it come to church­es. The number of parishioners are dwin­dling. The Hungarian communities are being dissolved in the melting pot. The once proud churches are closing their doors, one after the other. The buildings are getting older. The financial burden of the upkeep is sitting heavily on the dwin­dling congregations. Then many requests come asking for help. Some of the places here are also asking for help. So what is there to do? Gábor Ökrös had his own experiences. His eyes were opened but his spirit wasn’t reduced. He travelled to California, across the country and arrived here on the east coast. His mission gave a true account of what missionary work is. At times he slept on the floor, if lucky on a sofa in the church office. Other times he received a break of real hospitality that made him for­get the bad times. The whole situation seems to be a catch 22. The need to restore Hungarian communities in Rumania is overwhelming. Recently we had Bishop Tőkés and Bishop Templi touring the States with the chorus of the Partium University. They we trying to raise funds for the newly established Hungarian school. The goal of this school is to educate leaders for the Hungarian communities. But as Mr. Ökrös put it, if the young people in the villages don’t have the opportunity to be brought up in a Hungarian environment, like the church, then who are the leaders going to lead. At this point the older generation is doing their best. Let us not forget that most of the inhabitants of these three villages came from a nearby place that was erased from the face of the earth as Ceausescu started his program to create agricultural “manufacturing” to have workers go to work as in the factories. The new attack on minority communi­ties is that the government is moving the military into these places, building new barracks despite the the downsizing of the forces brought on by the worstening of the economy. Strange, isn’t it??? Try to help the people in need. They did more then their share. We will help you with the tax deductible donation you want to give to get to the proper place. Make check or money order out to “United Church of Christ, Bridgeport, CT” write “Facsad church” on the memo line and mail it to “Magyar News, 60 Tyrone Place, Stratford, Ct 06614. Thanks for your warm hearted consideration. J.F.B. Page 1