“[N]othing is so strong and powerful to extinguish the fire of our sins as almsgiving. It is greater than all other virtues… For the effect of virginity, of fasting … is confined to those who practice them, and no other is saved thereby. But almsgiving extends to all, and embraces the members of Christ, and actions that extend their effects to many are far greater than those which are confined to one. For almsgiving is the mother of love, of that love, which is the characteristic of Christianity, which is greater than all miracles, by which the disciples of Christ are manifested. It is the medicine of our sins, the cleansing of the filth of our souls, the ladder fixed to heaven; it binds together the body of Christ.”
(St. John Chrysostom, Homily 6 on Titus)
Dear St. Paraskeva Family of donors and supporters,
Undoubtedly, stressful times have come upon as all and upon the entire world. I am hopeful that through the strong sense of community we have already established in our 10-year tradition of charitable work, we will not only survive, but will come out of these struggles with even deeper connections and stronger support for each other.
In these trying times, as we continue our journey to Pascha amidst fear and anxiety, it is easy to lose sight of what is essential in sustaining our lives: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Perhaps these intrusive interruptions of our lives may have caught us unprepared. We have prayer books that I have listed on the second page of this letter that we offer you – please let us know which one you need and I will mail it out quickly to any of you without hesitation. Please note that they are all in Romanian.
Perhaps donating to a charity may be the last thing on our minds now as we focus on this emerging worldwide pandemic and our own economic individual needs. But it is very important to remember that in challenging times the poorest and most vulnerable populations face the greatest hardship – and who are more vulnerable than the orphans? Our volunteers who care for many projects in Romania have reported losing their jobs due to the economic hardships resulting from COVID-19. Yet in their unconditional love, they have never stopped caring for the suffering, for the orphans and those in most need. We remain humbled by their dedication to help.
The medical system in Romania is struggling tremendously with the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals are shutting down across the country as hundreds of medical staff have been infected due to the lack of medical supplies. Protective equipment for medical staff is scarce, almost nonexistent in most hospitals across Romania.
We have paired efforts with local partners and we want to pledge this Paschal fundraiser to include helping hospitals with medical supplies. We will seek to match every dollar donated to Saint Paraskeva Orthodox Charity during this Paschal season in order to double our response to these hardships.
Our projects’ beneficiaries and volunteers wanted me to ensure you all of their continued prayers for all the benefactors that chose to make a difference in the lives of struggling men, women, and children. We have opened a regular dialogue of such thankful letters from our projects, which I invite you all to follow on our website, on Facebook, and in our weekly emails. You may never meet these children and they may never get to know you…and this remains the beauty of the holy work of almsgiving. We hope that these words from our children will show how impactful your donations have been and will inspire you to continue to help them, especially as we celebrate the Feast of Feasts.
On behalf of the orphans, the sick, and the poor that our charity serves, we would like to thank you for your kind partnership, generosity, and support over the years. In closing, I would like to share with you insightful words from the Bible, Philippians 4:6-7:
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
May God, through the intersession prayers of His Saints, protect us all at all times.
Christ is Risen!
Your sister in Christ,
Mariana Cuceu, MD, MPH
President, Saint Paraskeva Orthodox Charity