Video: Missionary in Romania embraces social, ecumenical role

Episcopal-Orthodox partnership deepened through common mission

By Matthew Davies
Posted Nov 7, 2014

[Episcopal News Service, Huși, Romania] The Rev. Dorothee Hahn is well into her third year as an Episcopal Church missionary in Romania. The former lawyer from Germany is committed to supporting struggling families and otherwise walking alongside the rural community in Huși, near Iași.

A priest in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Hahn’s missionary work began through a partnership between the Romanian Orthodox Church and her former parish in Munich, Church of the Ascension.

Ordained in 2005, being an Episcopal priest is an important part of Hahn’s identity, so she’s rarely seen in anything but her clerical attire. Most people in the Romanian Orthodox Church respect that identity, understanding that she is there to serve in partnership and common mission and not to evangelize or proselytize.

Hahn’s ministry in Romania is multifaceted. At the cathedral in Huși, she sings in the choir. She also steps in from time to time as the official photographer for important events in the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Huși. In Hârșova and Vaslui, she offers weekly classes, teaching German to local children, knowing that languages will only serve to broaden their opportunities in life.

Every week or two, the Rev. Dorothee Hahn visits Cosmin and his family near Huși, Romania. Cosmin suffered an undiagnosed illness when he was about 18 months old and has been disabled every since. Photo: Matthew Davies

Every week or two, the Rev. Dorothee Hahn visits Cosmin and his family near Huși, Romania. Cosmin suffered an undiagnosed illness when he was about 18 months old and has been disabled every since. Photo: Matthew Davies

Following the fall of communism in 1989, the levels of poverty in Romania exploded, particularly in rural communities. While the country has seen some economic improvements since it joined the European Union in 2007, most people still struggle to make ends meet.

Given those economic hardships, Hahn’s work out in the community is deeply valued.

The Rev. Margaret Rose, the Episcopal Church’s ecumenical officer, visited Hahn in September to learn more about her ministry and the unique Episcopal-Orthodox partnership.

Through her ecumenical work, Hahn is “helping the church to come together in a way that is, in my mind, deeper than doctrine,” says Rose. “It is in the practice of the love of Jesus.”

Partnership and common mission are at the very heart of this ecumenical story. And for Hahn, all of her skills are being applied in this context. It’s a shining example of the Episcopal Church’s missionary program. It’s about sharing God’s gifts and walking together in mission.

Hahn is one of 47 appointed Episcopal Church adult missionaries serving throughout the world.

Further information about the Episcopal Church’s missionary program is available here or by contacting the Rev. David Copley, mission personnel officer, at dcopley@episcopalchurch.org.

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.


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Comments (7)

  1. Ann Fontaine says:

    Thanks for this story.

  2. Tony Price says:

    Bravo Dorothee and kudos to the Episcopal Church in Europe which sponsored her. Ecumenism is so important for breaking down walls of distrust. We can all do our part in small ways at least.

  3. Joseph F Foster says:

    In this venue ery critical of the Episcopal Church and many activities it sponsors I have been. But the E C has behaved very admirably in its relations and “missionary” activities in Eastern Europe. This is a beautiful example. Unlike some evangelical churches they are not trying to wean or convert Orthodox Christians away from the Orthodox Church but are helping wherever they can.

    Foarte bine!

  4. What a wonder-full happy story. I’m so proud of this gracious woman-priest. She is a credit to every sort of individual committed to the life and love of Christ.

  5. The Rev Donald Heacock says:

    I praise the Church for this creative ministry. As a Priest who served over seas(Panama) I see this as a wonderful investment.

  6. The Rev. Lura M. Kaval says:

    Dorothee is an amazing woman and an exceptional priest. Her ministry is multi-leveled with many dimensions. She is one of the few people I know qualified for this calling. I am honoured to know her and call her my friend. Thank you for shedding light on her ministry.

  7. Karin Buchholz says:

    Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

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