Spain, in a few words
Spain, officially named “The Kingdom of Spain”, is a Mediterranean country with long historical and cultural tradition. The term “Spania” comes from “Hispania”, the Latin name by which the Romans made reference to the whole peninsula borrowing the Greek word “Hispanía” (stress on the second “i” as in the case of “România” ), used by Artemidorus of Efes (1st Century BC), author of the oldest map of the West which describes in detail the Roman Hispania. The origin of the word “Hispania” is attributed to the Phoenicians, the first non-Iberian civilization that came to the peninsula to expand their trade and who founded, among others, the oldest active city in the West. In their Punic language they called it Isephanim, “Rabbit coast”. The rabbits were and today still are in abundance in Andalusia, and a few coins from the time of Hadrian represented the personification of Spain as a lady sitting with a rabbit at his feet.
After a long and turbulent history, the territory of today’s Spain is divided into 17 autonomous communities (Andalucía, Aragón, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Country, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla-León, Cataluña, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra, Valencia, La Rioja) in which there live and work about 46 million inhabitants.
Spain is a hereditary constitutional monarchy, with a bicameral parliament, called Cortes Generales or Asamblea Nacional (National Assembly). Executive power is held by a Council of Ministers chaired by a President of Government (position similar to that of a Prime Minister), proposed by the monarch and elected by the National Assembly after legislative elections.
Catholicism is the predominant religion in Spain. 94 percent of the population manifests itself in this religion, according to a study conducted by the Centre for Social Research in 2005. After the Catholics, other religious minorities make up another 6% of the population. For its membership, the second largest religion is Islam. The data show that 800,000 people are of this religion.
There are four major languages spoken in the Spanish territory, three of them being co-official languages in various regions, together with Castilian (or Spanish) which is the official language throughout Spain: Catalan (català) in Catalonia (Catalunya), the Balearic Islands (Illes Balears) and parts of the autonomous community of Valencia (Valencia, where the variety of Catalan spoken there is known as Valencian); Basque (Euskera) in Basque Country (Euskadi) and parts of Navarre; Galician (galego) in Galicia (Galiza). Or is Catalan, Basque, Galician, Asturian, Cantabrian, Aragonese, of Extremadura or Valencia, or either of Murcia, Andalusia, Balearic and Canary Islands, the twenty-first century Spanish are very attached to their roots, traditions and customs illustrated by the local festivals.
Painters: Pablo Picasso, Diego Velázquez, Salvador Dalí;
Architects: Antonio Gaudí, Santiago Calatrava;
Writers: Miguel de Cervantes, Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Jorge Semprún, Federico García Lorca, Félix Lope de Vega, Camilo José Cela, Miguel Delibes and so on;
Film-makers: Luis Buñuel, Pedro Almodóvar, Alejandro Amenábar;
Musicians: Isaac Albéniz, Manuel de Falla, Enrique Granados, Joaquín Turina.
The town of Coslada is geographically situated in the East of the province of Madrid (which is composed of 179 towns and has an immigrant population of over 950,000 people from 168 countries). Coslada is a town with an area of 12 km2, with over 90,000 inhabitants, located on the right bank of the river Jarama, in the midst of an area of plains, 10 minutes from Madrid or from the Barajas International Airport.
As for the origin of Coslada, there are several interpretations. It may have been founded by the Romans if you consider the etymology of the word Coslada: cos – ‘rock’, ‘hard’ and late – ‘abundant’, ‘widespread’.
The first documentation dates back to the sixth century, after the settlement of the court of Toledo. From the year 713, when the troops of Tarik came to this land, following the Visigoths and Jews fleeing after the conquest of Toledo and took refuge in Alcalá de Henares, until 1083 there is no information on Coslada.
In 1700, Coslada already had its own Town Council, but there are no documents attesting it because of the fire caused by the Austrian troops of General Count Starhenberg in their retreat before the French-Spanish army, after the defeat at the Battle of Villaviciosa, on December 10, 1710. Much of the town was also burned and destroyed then. This decline continues, in 1785 in Coslada there were living only 64 people belonging to 6 families.
From the nineteenth century, however, Coslada begins to develop. It got to 264 inhabitants in 1864, grouped into 66 families, but the real expansion is known after 1950: there were 3,695 inhabitants in 1960; 13,412 inhabitants in 1970; 33,434 inhabitants in 1975; 53,952 inhabitants in 1980.
Coslada has two local festivals: the Lesser Feasts of San Isidro, May 15th, and major festivals in honour of the Patroness of Coslada, Our Lady of Beautiful Love, celebrated the second weekend of June.
Romanian Orthodox Parish “St. Nectarios, the Healer” of Coslada
Of all the aspects of contemporary Spain, the most striking is the “New Spain”: democratic, ambitious member of the EU, Spain became in just a few decades an important stage for the world’s historical events and a large consumer of information and culture, which makes it even more attractive.
The economic well-being and the generous job offer have attracted and still attract, despite the global economic crisis, a rich and diverse workforce, mainly from the developing countries, among which Romania stands at the top. This explains why in almost all regions of Spain you can hear people speaking Romanian, in almost all economic sector there are Romanian workers, preferred even to other immigrants for the responsible way in which they do their work.
Gradually, large communities of Romanian were formed urging for priests and churches, so that today there are over forty parishes in Spain and a few other more in the neighbouring country, Portugal, with priests that attempt to answer to the spiritual needs of the immigrants, with the only means provided by the Diaspora.
The Most Reverend Father Iosif, Archbishop and Metropolitan for Western and Southern Europe appointed a priest for the community of Romanian temporarily or permanently established in Coslada, on competition basis (Episcopal Decision No. 212/2007 dated June 1st, 2007). Namely, it was appointed Father iconomos stavroforos George-Ovidiu Cimpoca, former counsellor on social and mission issues in the Bishopric of the Lower Danube (now Archiepiscopate) and former parish priest of the “Transfiguration of the Lord” Church in the city of Galați (România).
The spiritual patron and protector of the parish is the Holy Hierarch Nectarios, the Healer, held every year on 9 November.
At first, the parish community developed its liturgical, catechetical, missionary and cultural activities in a space within the Catholic Church of “Santa Cruz”. Over time, the number of parishioners of Coslada grew so that it was necessary to find a new space better suited to the liturgical and missionary needs.
The Romanians of Coslada, many of which settled here immediately after 1990, come from different regions of Romania, especially form the regions of Oltenia (Alexandria, Teleorman), Moldova and Maramureș, and very few from Ardeal. The vast majority come from rural areas, with specific traditions and customs of their areas of origin.
The life of the parish in facts
The Romanian Orthodox mission among here means to live fully each and every experience, to be the first to bear witness with our lives and leading by example. Our mission here means to promote the good life, justice and Christian values. It means fighting all forms that the evil can take within us (our being, our time, our place, our projects) and outside of us, with patience and perseverance, overcoming even the risk of compromising our image. The Gospel and the mission will always pose new challenges. We cannot stay in a comfortable and neutral position. The concrete and overt faith challenges and bullies the one who lives “asleep”. It denounces all situations and attitudes that are not human. At all costs! The mission means to be a prophet in fighting the injustice of the world.
With the blessing of Father Timotei, Bishop of Spain and Portugal, there were proposed and developed a series of activities:
• screening of documentaries and films on spiritual, biblical and hagiographic issues (e.g. On the steps of San Nectarios in Eguina, Father Cleopa speaks to us, Spiritual words from our elders, fathers Arsenie Papacioc, Teofil Părăian, Rafail Noica etc., The Island, The Life of St. Demetrius, The Life of St. George, The Priest, Journey to the Holy Land);
• Conference “Orthodoxy confessed through the life and thought” with the participation of the Archimandrite father Teofil Părăian and father Ilarion Urs, both from the Brâncoveanu Monastery (Sâmbăta);
• anti-abortion campaign: “Abortion = momentary solution, permanent consequences”, “Abortion – deadly wound of love”, “Abortion is killing”; this time there were distributed more than 4,000 of thematic brochures;
• Blood donation campaign: “Give life a chance!” in collaboration with the Spanish Red Cross; as a result, dozens of parishioners are now permanent donors;
• photo exhibition “Coslada – Romanian Orthodoxy through images”;
• participation in meetings on current issues such as fighting drugs and domestic violence among young immigrants, support for the program Coslada – clean, organized by the Immigration Department of the City of Coslada, in collaboration with various NGOs;
• cultural activities, the presentation of the book “Spania – Trei milenii in istorie” (Romanian translation of the book Spain – three millennia of history, by the noted historian Antonio Domínguez Ortíz) translated by Gheorghe Vinţan; the carols show “Deschide usa, Crestine!” with the participation of the singer songwriter Ştefan Hruşcă;
• consecrate the altar of the new worship space (November 8, 2009);
• prepare the visit of HB Patriarch Daniel at the parish of Coslada (April 17, 2010);
• start the campaign aid for the victims of Romania “Show solidarity” (2010);
• organize a pilgrimage to Greece (May 25 – June 2, 2010);
• organize a pilgrimage to Egypt (September 28 – October 10, 2010);
• organize a pilgrimage to Israel (1-7 September 2011);
• initiate the program “Start everything with God!” – prayers at the beginning of each school year;
• prepare the Christmas celebrations: “Christ has been born, rejoice!”;
• organize activities caused by the visit of HE Polycarp Metropolitan of Greece (Madrid), when the parish received small portions of the holy relics of St. Nectarios (February 6, 2011);
• start the Sunday programs “Picnic at noon” or “Tour after the liturgy” (in nature: La Cabrera, Buitrago del Lozoya, El Atazar, Sacedón, The Boalo etc.) Time for fellowship and socialization;
• initiate a series of diplomas to reward the benefactor activity of the faithful: Benefactor’s Diploma, Donor’s Diploma, Diploma “Apostolate of good works” and the Diploma of Honour “Saint Nectarios, the Healer”.
For the missionary needs of the congregation there were released:
• the weekly parish bulletin;
• brochures in Romanian and Spanish on the Holy Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Confession and Penance, guides for confession, for the requiem and for the blessing of the home, where, next to the aspects related to the spiritual meaning, practical elements were added.
• parish presentation brochure, in both Romanian and Spanish;
• presentation brochure of the Orthodox Church: “The Orthodox Church, some aspects of Byzantine Christianity”.
• three booklets: “The Life and akathist of St. Nectarios, the Healer” and “Parish St. Nectarios, the Healer – Coslada, 2007-2009”, “Missionary Activity 2010”, in bilingual Romanian-Spanish edition.
Permanent missionary activities in the parish:
• serve the Holy Mass on Sundays and holidays, according to the weekly parish liturgical program;
• pronounce homilies, teaching and liturgical catechesis words on various missionary and social topics;
• confess and give communion to the faithful in the Great Lent and other fastings of the year;
• organize activities for children caused by the Sunday of Orthodoxy (“The icon in my life”), Maundy Thursday (the washing of the feet ritual with child participation), the Lord’s Resurrection (“Why do we paint eggs because of the Resurrection of the Lord?”), the International Children’s Day, Sunday of the Family, the Saint Nicholas Day and Christmas;
• organize activities for women parishioners at the Annunciation and the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women;
• preparation of the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord that has become a feast of the whole municipality;
• manage and continuously update the parish website: www.sfnectariecoslada.ro;
• maintain good relations with local authorities and develop joint activities for the good of the community;
• write the weekly parish bulletin, print it and distribute it to the parishioners;
• record in video and electronic format all important parish events and archive them;
• reflect parish activities in the Romanian newspapers in Spain (“Român în lume”, “Noi în Spania”, “Românul”, “Occidentul românesc”, “Origini”), in the metropolitan magazine “Apostolia” and the newspaper “Lumina” of the Holy Patriarchy.
However, the two major parish events are the Lord’s Resurrection, which involves several thousand Romanians, and the feast of the spiritual patron of the church, on November 9 of each year.
Parish School for children “The Brâncoveanu Martyrs”
Within the parish takes place, with the blessing of HE Timotei, Bishop of Spain and Portugal (Episcopal Decision No. 14), from March 2009, the parish school “The Brâncoveanu Martyrs”, with 30 children currently enrolled. The courses are held every Saturday from 17.30 to 19 and include: 1. Elementary notions of the Orthodox Christian Catechism; 2. Romanian Language and Literature; 3. Basic notions of Romanian history
The duties of the parochial school are: to ensure appropriate educational support according to the proposed number of hours, to ensure all necessary school materials for students, free of charge, to ensure the prizes offered: € 500 for the best student (for whose nomination will be taken into account the presence to class, the involvement and attention in class, the presence to the Divine Liturgy, the irreproachable behaviour, the results of the evaluation), and three seats on summer camps for the following three students.
The obligations of parents: give their children the best opportunities to attend and participate in class, support the efforts of the parish for their moral and spiritual development, regular presence on the Divine Liturgy, participate in parish activities or community events; and of students: the presence of all classes except for reasons of illness or special permission to miss.
Outside the classroom, the school organizes activities: excursions, walks, films, games and so on.
Responsible for the smooth running of school activities is Presbytera Gina Cimpoca.
Parish Catechetical School “The word that builds” – for adults
From July 4, 2010, with the blessing of the local bishop (Episcopal Decision No. 13), there works the parish catechetical school for adults “The word that builds”. Through this catechetical training, participants acquire basic knowledge about the teachings of the Orthodox Christian faith, educate and correct their moral behaviour through learning the catechism, the practice of prayer and through the ordinances and traditions of the Orthodox Church. Classes are held every Sunday afternoons, from 18 pm.
At the end of each course of catechism, the 50 students enrolled must pass a knowledge verification test. The topics relate to the Holy Mass and the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments and other rules of the Church, the prayers essential to the daily life of a Christian (when entering the church, in front of the icons of the church, before communion, before and after every meal and so on), people worshiped by the Church and religious objects (the Mother of God, angels, the holy relics, the cross, icons) etc. The result of the evaluation is even more important as the student who achieves the best results will be given a reward to the extent of their effort (in 2011, a free pilgrimage through the Holy Land).
Parish Canteen “The Good Samaritan”
Given the new realities of the community generated by the loss of jobs of a large part of the Romanians in the area, taking into account that more often than not the Romanian families have many children and are facing difficulties to raise them, on February 27, 2011, the decision has been taken to institute a Parish Canteen – “The Good Samaritan”, which functions as a food bank that weekly ensures, with the help of all parishioners, a cold lunch from a warm heart for people beneficiary of this type of parish relief.
Organization of young parishioners
On March 6, 2011, the parish youth organization was formed to promote the place and mission of the youth of our society within the Church. Under the lemma Youth, Apostolate, Responsibility, Life; the organization aims to raise the awareness among young people for the true values of the Orthodox faith and Romanian traditions, by organizing cultural and artistic activities, excursions and pilgrimages, conferences, by supporting the missionary activities of the parish and so on.
Parish library “Light of the Word”
The parish also has a library available to all book lovers, children, youth and adults, counting on over 750 books in Romanian: fiction, children’s books and religious literature. The books can be taken home, based on a registration card, the loan schedule is: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays from 18.30 to 20, Saturdays from 17 to 19 and Sundays from 12 to 13.30.
Holy relics in the parish
At the church, there lie and protect us parts of the holy relics of the Saint Hierarch Nektarios and of the Holy Martyrs of Hozeva desert (remembered on every March 20):
Personalities that have visited the parish church:
† His Beatitude Father Daniel, Patriarch of Romania;
† His Eminence Polycarp, Greek Archbishop and Metropolitan for Spain and Portugal;
† His Eminence Iosif, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Western and Southern Europe;
† His Eminence Andrei, Archbishop of Alba-Iulia;
† His Eminence Siluan, Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Italy
† His Excellency Timotei, Bishop of Spain and Portugal;
† His Excellency Marc Nemţeanul, Vicar Bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of Western Europe;
Archimandrite Father Teofil Părăian, Sâmbăta Monastery;
Archimandrite Father Ilarion Urs, Sâmbăta Monastery;
Mr. Adrian Lemeni, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs;
Mr. Eugen Tomac, Secretary of State for the Romanian diaspora;
Ştefan Hruşcă, singer songwriter;
Ángel Viveros Gutiérrez, Mayor of Coslada;
Rosario Arroyo Lázaro, Immigration Councillor of the City of Coslada;
Agustín González Plasencia, Director of the Department of Immigration – Coslada;
Carlos Iglesias, film director;
Miguel Fonda Stefanescu, president of FEDROM;
Gelu Vlasin, poet.