Glimpses from the life of Father Ionel Pavel, the confessor

He was born on 04.11.1925, the fifth child of the Dumitriu family, in Movilei Street, Galați. He was baptised in the church “Saint Haralambie” with the name Ionel. After the death of his father, which occurred shortly afterwards, he was sent to the orphanage in Galați.

Here, tied to a tree for childish mischief, he was found by Ștefan and Maria Pavel, who had come to find the child they were never blessed with. Impressed by his blue eyes and his condition, they adopted him and offered him parental love and family warmth in their home in the village of Moscu.

They brought him up with great love, cultivating his love for farm work, for learning, for country and nation, but above all they instilled in him from an early age the love of God.

At the urging of the village teacher, he enrolled at the Theological Seminary in Galați, where he graduated with very good results, second in an exceptional class.

His graduation from the seminary gave him the right to study theology only; in order to have more doors open to him, he took the necessary differential examinations and passed his baccalaureate at the Vasile Alecsandri Theoretical High School. Thus he began, one after the other, courses at three faculties: Theology, Classics and Veterinary Medicine.

The historical conjuncture of the time cut off his youthful energy and he was imprisoned for political reasons for 7 years, passing through the prisons of Galați, Jilava, Gherla and Canal. The tortures he endured did not destroy him, but strengthened his faith in God, his love for his country and people, his love for his neighbour and his interest in daily improvement.

He forgave all those who tortured him, humiliated him, mocked him; he never spoke passionately about the sufferings he had endured, never asked for the punishment of the torturers, never sought civil rehabilitation, although he knew that his family would suffer. He left us with the pain of not wanting the truth to be known about a generation sacrificed for faith and love of country, and of not being able to serve in the church built with the pennies of former prisoners.

When he was released from prison, there was only one way for him to go – “the way of the Kingdom”. He graduated from the Faculty of Theology in Bucharest, preparing himself to witness to God at a time when taking up one’s cross and following God could mean a death sentence.

In 1956 he married Maria Osman from Ciolănești-Teleorman and was ordained deacon for the Cathedral of Galați by the worthy Bishop Chesarie. Not having received the consent of the political representative, he was ordained as a priest and sent to the parish of Luncavița-Tulcea, where he served from 1957 to 1962.

His youth, his hard work and, above all, the grace with which he was gifted as a good preacher attracted the appreciation of the faithful, but also the envy of some. It was only with the help of God that he escaped a second conviction, the prosecutor, a Jew by race, proclaiming his innocence.

Between 1962 and 1973, he was a priest in the parish of Rediu – Galați. Here he repaired and consecrated the two churches of Rediu and Suhurlui, took care of the three cemeteries of Rediu, Suhurlui and Plevna, and managed to take possession of the parish house.

In 1972 he was appointed secretary of the Galați deanery, and in 1973 he joined the priests of the “Buna-Vestire” church as priest for the Țiglina II district. He lovingly cared for his parishioners and moved to the Church of the Ascension of the Lord to be with the faithful who had been entrusted to him since his arrival in Galați.

Fr. Pavel did not cease to serve with devotion and love, being invited by the brother priests to the services for his qualities as a good preacher, diligent missionary and man of peace. Close to his home was the church of Mavramol, where, near the icon of Our Lady, he found a place of spiritual peace which he shared with many of the faithful.

The good Lord ordained that his last earthly journey should be from the Church of the Ascension of the Lord, led by those whom he had shepherded, and the humble man who passed unnoticed, to receive a special archpriestly service, special words, recognition as a man of God from His Eminence Archbishop Dr. Casian of the Lower Danube.

He died on Sunday 10 December 2011 after a period of suffering.

(Eparchial magazine “Călăuza ortodoxă”, n. 278 of January 2012)

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