Chronicle from Romania

By Martin Hoegger. As part of the meeting of Together for Europe, the network of Christian communities and movements, I had the opportunity to present the JC2033 initiative. Some 350 people from 51 movements in 29 European countries took part in this annual gathering this year in Timisoara, Romania, from November 16 to 18, 2023.

After the conference, I also took the opportunity to pay a few visits to some of the leaders.

After briefly mentioning the history of JC2033, I stressed that God is calling us to pool our ideas and strengths to bear witness together, right now, to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the decade leading up to 2033.

Listening to the Spirit
One of the initiators of the meeting, Mgr Josef Pal, Catholic bishop of the Timisoara diocese, called for us to listen to the Holy Spirit. "If we do, we'll be more united. We can make programs, but it's the Holy Spirit who builds".
These words made me think of what we have been living for so many years. It is indeed the Holy Spirit who, step by step, helps us to understand the path towards 2033.

With Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement and Mgr Josef Pal, Catholic Bishop of Timisoara.

During this year, the first of the decade, the remarkable fact is that many other initiatives concerning 2033 have been launched.
See: More initiatives for 2033!

I presented JC2033 with Nuria Alonso, responsible or "Agenda 2033", launched by "Charis", the international service of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

This agenda aims to offer a platform on which the various initiatives towards 2033 can meet. Olivier Fleury and I were invited to take part in its recent meeting in Rome in early November. Nuria showed that this initiative is supported by many leaders in the Catholic Church and other churches and movements. "What could you do tomorrow, have you thought about it?" Pope Francis asked in particular.
After our presentation, several people approached us to express their interest. In particular, I spoke with Jesús Moran, co-president of the Focolare Movement, who agreed to give his views in a video.

Nuria Alonso, responsible for "Agenda 2033"

"We have ten years to take decisive steps towards unity," he says. "If 2033 finds us more united, we can really be an answer. The real answer to the world's problems is the Resurrection of Christ, the most decisive event in human history. So I'm very happy to encourage all those who are carrying out this wonderful initiative”, says J. Moran.
Link to interview with Jesús Moran

Visits to Churches in Timisoara

After the Together for Europe meeting, I stayed in this beautiful city for a few days to visit a number of church leaders. Invited by Bishop J. Pal to stay at the bishop's palace, I was able to fraternize with him and meet his main collaborators. Bishop Pal is a "unifier" who has succeeded in creating a great current of friendship between leaders of different churches. On Sunday evening, at a meeting devoted to spiritual renewal in parishes, I was able to speak about JC2033 to a group of Catholic, Greek-Catholic and Orthodox leaders.

The following day, I was invited to take part in a "lectio divina" which, every Monday, brings together the bishop's collaborators to meditate on the Gospel text for the following Sunday. It was a rich and edifying time of sharing on the parable of the Last Judgment, in which Jesus said the unforgettable words: "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me." (Matthew 25:20).

"Heartfelt thanks for your wonderful work for 2033, for the resurrection of the Lord", wrote Josef Pal in response to my thanks for his generous hospitality!

The Church: A Sailboat or a Rowboat?

In the afternoon, I visit the pastor of the Reformed Church, Sandor Demeter, with Robert Bajkai, whose wife is a parish councilor. He lives where the Romanian revolution began on December 15, 1989, under the impetus of Pastor Laszlo Tökes, who fought for freedom in the name of the Gospel.

"We must obey God rather than men."This quotation from the Acts of the Apostles (5:29) is inscribed on a plaque commemorating these events. S. Demeter vividly reminds me of these events, then testifies with joy to the spiritual awakening his parish is experiencing.
He particularly appreciates the fact that JC2033 refocuses us on what's essential, the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, who gives us the Holy Spirit and unites us in Him. "How do we see the Church, a rowboat or a sailing ship, he asks? Do we row or do we let the Spirit fill our sails? Either way, we have to work, too, because the sailboat has to be steered. And to steer it, we need unity. We have to let ourselves be inhabited by the Spirit, whose temple we are. "

The Strength of Unity
The next day, I went to the Lutheran Church, where Pastor Zsombor Kovacs was waiting for me. I had first met him when I took part in the Sunday service in Hungarian and German where I had made an appointment with him.
He welcomed JC2033's proposal for the Jubilee of the Resurrection. He is convinced that the power of the Holy Spirit is given by celebrating the Risen Christ together.
People don't understand the differences in Easter dates between the Orthodox Church and other churches. "My dream is that the Churches will be able to celebrate Easter together in 2033. But the most important thing is that Christ is truly Risen. It's a truth we need to witness together. In this way, evangelization is effective. "

Don't Associate 2033 with the Return of Christ!
In the evening, B. Bajkai took me to the Pentecostal Church "Apeli Vii" - "rivers of living water" - where I met Pastor Bela Farkas, accompanied by Gabriel Trandafir, an elder of the community who acts as my interpreter. The pastor asked me several questions about JC2033. In particular, he wanted to be sure that we are not associated with a movement that announces the return of Christ in 2033.
(see ).
I replied that we have never linked this year to the parousia."God is sovereign and He alone knows when Jesus will return to earth (Mark 13.32). Under no circumstances should this jubilee be associated with the return of Jesus Christ", says our website on this subject. Reassured, he acknowledged that the prospect of 2033 gives Christians a magnificent opportunity to bear witness to the heart of their faith.

At the end of our exchange, B. Farkas invited me to speak about JC2033 to his community, gathered for an evening of prayer. The prayer was vibrant and the songs lively! Before we left, my interpreter's mother gave me a word of encouragement, that I would arrive home safe and sound the next day, despite some difficulties. And that's indeed what happened. An angel visited me, it seems! But that's another story I'll tell in my memoirs one day...