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History of Our Parish

Parish Photo 1929
Parish Photo 1929

 

Church Building 1970
Church Building 1970

Fr. Glicheria Popa
Fr. Glicheria
Popa
Bishop Valerian
Bishop
Valerian

Ground Breaking for the Parsonage
Ground Breaking for the Parsonage

Iconostasis 1986
Iconostasis 1986

Fr. Paul Craciun
Fr. Paul
Craciun

Fr. Filimon Barbos
Fr. Filimon
Barbos

Fr. John & Betty Limbeson
Fr. John & Betty
Limbeson
Fr. Joseph

Beautification of the Temple
Beautification of the Temple

 

 

 

The early 1900's saw a vast influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe to the United States, including many Romanians to the Indianapolis area. The predominant desire of these immigrants was to obtain employment, save their money, and eventually return to their homeland. Fortunately, many remained to make Indianapolis their permanent home, raise their families and become American citizens. In an effort to continue the practice of their Orthodox Faith they organized and established a Romanian Orthodox Church.

The founding of our church can be traced to the year 1906 when Father Moise Balea organized a parish committee of interested Romanian Orthodox Christians and proposed the name Saints Constantine and Elena for a new Church. Father Moise was an important personality in the history of the Romanian Episcopate of America. He was an active missionary and a printer of books and monographs for the Romanian Orthodox faithful in this country. Since no priest was available at the time, the establishment of a new congregation was postponed until 1910. On June 12th of that year, Fr. Simion Mihaltian from Indiana Harbor, Indiana served the first Divine Liturgy in a hall at 652 West Washington Street. A historical marker on the Indianapolis canal walk marks this place today. In attendance were approximately 500 faithful. The first parish council was elected that day and they retained the name Saints Constantine and Elena and established a building fund.

A building on the corner of West Market and Blackford Streets was purchased and remodeled. On July 2, 1911, it was dedicated and blessed. The first priest to serve our community was Father Octavian Petra. In those early years, a number of priests served our parish: Octavian Muresan, Ilie Pop, Alexander Reu, Alexander Sirbu, Craciun Metea, Glicherie Popa, and Alexander Bogioca. The highlight of our church's early history was the visit by Queen Marie of Romania in 1926. She was accompanied by her daughter, Princess Ileana, who later became Mother Alexandra, foundress of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania.

Father Paul Craciun served the parish from 1940 to 1972. In 1947, a situation developed which Father Paul called "a golden opportunity": the Easy Bake Company agreed to buy the church building, making it possible to build a new temple, which stands today at 3237 West 16th Street. Much of the work was done by the members themselves in order to keep costs down. It was completed in 1949. On October 12, 1952, His Grace Bishop Valerian consecrated the new Saints Constantine and Elena Romanian Orthodox Church. In May of 1971 the church built a parsonage for the parish priest. Other priests who served after Father Paul retired in 1972 were Father Gratian Radu, Father John Marmureanu, and Father Filimon Barbos.

In spite of many troubles during the 1980s, the parish's desire to serve God remained steadfast. A core of about a dozen first generation Romanian-Americans made a conscious decision that their beloved church would continue to live and become home for anyone who sincerely wished to embrace the Orthodox faith. During this period the worship language became primarily English. Vespers and Matins were offered weekly. Congregational singing and frequent reception of the sacraments were encouraged. Also, liturgical services such as Pre-sanctified Liturgies during Lent, a full Holy Week schedule, and the midnight Pascha service were restored. Alongside this sacramental and liturgical revitalization, church school and the AROY were reestablished. The AROY even won a national basketball championship with local Pan-Orthodox help. Some of our first converts were received at this time.

In the fall of 1993, Father John and Psa. Betty Limbeson agreed to come to Indianapolis from Yorba Linda, California to serve our parish. During Father John’s service, Saints Constantine and Elena experienced a renewal: an increase of the number and variety of liturgical services held throughout the year, the baptism and chrismation of 35 new members, and the addition of other Orthodox Christians who have chosen to worship with us.

In 1997 Father John retired and Heiromonk Father Joseph (Morris) came from Pennsylvania to serve our growing parish. Under his dedicated leadership and with the blessing of Archbishop Nathaniel, the life of the parish grew into a greater harmony with our rich Orthodox heritage, both inwardly and outwardly: new icons were written; the temple was repainted in the traditional Byzantine style; a new Holy Table of white oak and granite was carved; and a new hand-carved oaken iconostasis by the master-carver, Dorel Constaninescu of Iasi, Romania was installed. We also renovated our church hall.

In 2005 Dn. David Wey was ordained to the priesthood and in 2006 Fr. Joseph was released to the Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas in Hayesville Ohio. As we give thanks to God for this new chapter in the life of our parish that has now begun, together in Christ, we look to the future and are especially mindful and grateful for the many faithful people who established and maintained this community, through good times and times of hardship and trial, for they have provided us, through their faith and love, a place to experience the kingdom of God. May their memory be eternal!

 


Parish Photo 2007

 

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Last Updated July 21, 2007