For a time, we will postpone the eyewitness accounts about Archbishop Victorin in order to publish several notable letters from his early years on American soil. These letters belong to the correspondence he sustained with Metropolitan Visarion Puiu between 1955 and 1963. Metropolitan Visarion, who was living in France, was the confidant of Archimandrite Victorin throughout this entire period and the one who, as will be evident below, encouraged him in his travels to America.
Jerusalem. June 6, 1956.
If I would have written you yesterday, it would have been to announce that I’ve definitively given up on ever leaving Jerusalem; so undecided am I on what to do. In the wake of the urgings of those who facilitate this travel, I found myself forced to accept, also ‘definitively’. The thing that swayed me most into deciding I was ‘in favor’ was Your Eminence’s letter, which strengthened my hope that after so many years of waiting, the Good God will help me on this occasion also to see you.
My departure is due more to an American vice-consul from Amman, (Greek-Orthodox) who, seeming to be my friend, “pulled out all the stops” so that I would receive a visa, with one trip paid for by them, to the USA. From there, I’ve received proposals both on behalf of H.G. Trifa, as well as from H.G. Andrei and H.G. Teofil, to come to the U.S. “to help them”. But as you see, since I am traveling without any help on their part, I have no obligation toward anyone there.
Why I am leaving – even I myself don’t know yet. They gave me the visa sooner than expected, so I haven’t had time to arrange with anyone from over there, what I might be able to do in the USA. In any case, I hope to God that I’ll be able to do something and for an improvement of our situation here. Others wrote me from America, claiming I have “relatives” in Canada, yet I don’t know them, it’s possible they’re just from the same village. I didn’t write them, nor did anyone of them write me until now.
From the USA, a certain priest Gl. Moraru, from the side of H.G. Andrei, is greatly insisting that I go “to help them”. I’m not very clear on their situation. H.G. Trifa and those with him, are considered here to be schismatics at the least, and not only could they not serve, but anyone from here who concelebrates or communes with them would lose the right, in the future, to serve in the churches of the Patriarchate here. They had called a hieromonk from here for one of their parishes and when he went to ask the “blessing” of those from the Patriarchate to go, they told him that in the future he was not welcome in Jerusalem – so he had to decline to leave. Therefore, precisely in view of maintaining ecclesiastical relations with the Patriarchate here – to be sheltered from any suspicions or pretexts, I was thinking to ask that they send me an official paper, formulated as an invitation on behalf of H.G. Andrei to the Patriarchate here. H.G. Teofil is still not known here. Do you think I could manage not to get entangled too much, or that I could get along with them over there, even if only for a period of short duration? Their internal issues don’t pertain to me at all; to me also, it seems impossible to reach any arrangement given the situation at present. Most foreign hierarchs are of the opinion that Your Eminence is the only one who could bring about peace among the Romanians in America, if you could go there personally.
Going back to my problem, I am thinking to leave here around the beginning of next month (July). The rush was only to give them a definite answer, so that they could reserve a boat ticket for me. I preferred to travel by boat. In France, I’ve arranged to stay about 15 days. But I’d like to remain more or less incognito. My only desire is solely to visit Your Eminence. Some lines from Your Eminence, until my departure, would help me greatly in the disorientation in which I find myself. That’s why I’m allowing myself to place this paper in the envelope (1 pound) for stamps. […]
June 6 was once a day of celebration for Bukovinians. For me, it has remained the same day of celebration even now – and with the same filial love, I wish you on this day, Many Years!
Kissing your hand most humbly,
Jerusalem. June 9, 1956
It seems to me that everything says I should give up, this time too, on my departure from Jerusalem. I viewed this issue only with respect to the visa and travel, but too little did I ask myself what I might be able to do in America.
Besides this, I see that I can’t get along with the people from the Patriarchate here. They maintain that “it’s not the time for me to abandon Jerusalem.” Maybe they’re right – due also to their hardships.
If Your Eminence would share the same opinion, you’d help me greatly if you could send a directive, written in French, in which you could demonstrate that, as the one responsible for the oversight of properties in Palestine belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church, I’m obliged to remain in Jerusalem, until after these issues are resolved. With this, I could untangle myself from the American Consulate and from the people providing transportation. Ultimately, even a telegram saying “stay in Jerusalem – letter coming” – would enable me to inform them sooner that I’ve given up on leaving and that they should cancel the boat ticket.
In France, I might come, if God helps me, more toward autumn – only to Your E. […]
With the same filial sentiments,
Viels-Maisons (Aisne). France.
June 12, 1956
The more man travels, the more he acquires new intellectual knowledge in numerous subjects and matters. So, if you have means more or less secured, embark with joy on your planned journey.
When we meet, we will clarify together preemptively in conversation, more appropriately, the necessary issues relating to this voyage.
The principal milestones for the journey would be: Stopping at Paris, then at the communities in USA and Canada, without any rushed commitments with anyone. You will make the final decision with thought and consideration only after the end of the journey.
In Paris, to whom are you coming? Where will you be hosted? Who will guide you through this city? What proposals do you have and from whom?
From Jerusalem, you should depart preserving all the friendships from the Patriarchate and from everywhere, – for now considering these travels as being tentative, and according to some, your return to our country might be drawing near; according to others, not so soon, because new domestic disturbances will follow, such that you might prefer to remain either overseas or back in Jerusalem. […]
Before all else, my thought and advice is to find a way to stay in Canada (if you will encounter favorable conditions), in order to become the founder of an eparchy. I see that H.G. Teofil doesn’t want to leave the USA for Canada, as was intended, I don’t know why.
Give me advance notice both of your arrival in Paris and of when you begin your journey from there to me. […]
All the best,
The Second Letter
Through how many of these anxieties of soul did I also have to pass, wandering from country to country – without help from any of our own!…
I sealed the envelope of the first letter just before the second arrived, to which I respond now.
I would desire for you to embark on such a journey, even if long and with certain difficulties, as it is greatly profitable. And if you have means of returning, then set foot with God’s help. You will remain there only if the conditions will be agreeable. If not, then don’t commit anywhere, leaving the tumultuous local situation to be clarified by the future canonical Synod of the country of tomorrow.
If, however, you change your mind definitively, then calmly write me again, and I’ll send you the proposed telegram, followed (or maybe it’s not necessary) by a letter. […]
With warm well-wishes,