[Episcopal News Service, Huși, Romania] The Rev. Dorothee Hahn is well into her third year as an Episcopal Church missionary in Romania. The former lawyer from Germany is committed to supporting struggling families and otherwise walking alongside the rural community in Huși, near Iași.
A priest in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Hahn’s missionary work began through a partnership between the Romanian Orthodox Church and her former parish in Munich, Church of the Ascension.
Ordained in 2005, being an Episcopal priest is an important part of Hahn’s identity, so she’s rarely seen in anything but her clerical attire. Most people in the Romanian Orthodox Church respect that identity, understanding that she is there to serve in partnership and common mission and not to evangelize or proselytize.
Hahn’s ministry in Romania is multifaceted. At the cathedral in Huși, she sings in the choir. She also steps in from time to time as the official photographer for important events in the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Huși. In Hârșova and Vaslui, she offers weekly classes, teaching German to local children, knowing that languages will only serve to broaden their opportunities in life.
Following the fall of communism in 1989, the levels of poverty in Romania exploded, particularly in rural communities. While the country has seen some economic improvements since it joined the European Union in 2007, most people still struggle to make ends meet.
Given those economic hardships, Hahn’s work out in the community is deeply valued.
The Rev. Margaret Rose, the Episcopal Church’s ecumenical officer, visited Hahn in September to learn more about her ministry and the unique Episcopal-Orthodox partnership.
Through her ecumenical work, Hahn is “helping the church to come together in a way that is, in my mind, deeper than doctrine,” says Rose. “It is in the practice of the love of Jesus.”
Partnership and common mission are at the very heart of this ecumenical story. And for Hahn, all of her skills are being applied in this context. It’s a shining example of the Episcopal Church’s missionary program. It’s about sharing God’s gifts and walking together in mission.
Hahn is one of 47 appointed Episcopal Church adult missionaries serving throughout the world.
– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.