St. Mary's parish says goodbye to beloved Orthodox priest

·2 min read

St. Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church in Timmins will miss regular Sunday service for the time being because Father Orlando Geonea is moving to the United States.

He is moving next week to Norfolk, Virginia, where he will serve at another Orthodox church. He came to the Timmins church in 2019.

It is a difficult time for Orthodox parishioners in Timmins. Shine Johnson and his family attend Sunday service regularly here. "Words are not enough to express how we feel when he is not here," Johnson said.

"It has been a privilege having Father Orlando around here," said Jom Jacob, who has been a regular churchgoer since he came to Timmins. Jacob is originally from India and appreciates Father Geonea's strong collaborative and persuasive skills.

Father Geonea says his strong bond with the community is making it hard for him to move. "I feel so sorry to leave this beautiful city," he said.

He came from Bucharest, Romania. Although he had previously visited many European countries, Canada was the first country he served outside Romania.

He says one of his most significant achievements in Timmins was gathering different communities together. People from Ukraine, India, Romania and other countries attended Sunday service at his church. Some worshippers told Father Geonea that they only stayed in Timmins because of his church.

He regrets that he was not able to finish the church's renovation work, but progress has been made. He said before the renovations, some people even told him the church looked "creepy."

For Father Geonea, one of the hardest things about leaving is the uncertainty he leaves behind. He has no idea if another priest is coming to replace him, leaving the status of Sunday mass unknown.

"We don't know God's plan," he said.

Fr. Geonea's wife, Maria Luiza, and their son are also leaving for the U.S. with him. Their daughter currently lives in Romania.

Jinsh Rayaroth, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

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