Our Tenth Anniversary Since the Center's Inauguration
Traian Lascu s-a născut pe 24 septembrie 1923 în localitatea Paloş, jud Braşov, România, în familia Traian şi Maria (Stanciu).
A părăsit România în 1948, petrecând trei ani ca refugiat în Europa (Cehoslovacia, Germania, Franţa). Cu ajutorul vărului său George Ulita a reuşit să emigreze în Canada, sosind la Halifax pe 24 decembrie 1951. A petrecut câteva săptămâni în Sudbury urmând cursurile de limba engleză pentru emigranţi.
S-a mutat la Timmins, unde timp de trei ani al lucrat la Aunor Gold Mine. Pentru ca mina a intrat in criză s-a mutat la Windsor, Ontario, unde vărul său George lucra pentru General Motors. Ȋn cadrul "Cultural Asociation" a refugiaţilor, întâlneşte pe Florence Gaspar, cu care se căsătoreşte şase luni mai târziu la Catedrala "Sfântul Gheorghe" din Detroit. A doua zi după eveniment a plecat impreună cu soţia şi bunul prieten Eugen Siara la Vatra să întâlnească pe Episcopul Valerian, despre care ştia că a fost un student de frunte în România.
Socrul lui Traian, Jack Gaspar, care era proprietarul unei tipografii în Detroit a preluat tipărirea publicaţiei Solia (by-weekly basic) după ce Episcopul Valerian a mutat operatiunea de la Cleveland în 1954.
Mai întâi Traian a lucrat ca ucenic tipograf, ulterior prelund întregul proces de producţie al Soliei, care cuprindea scrierea, tipărirea şi administrarea.
Ȋn 1955 a primit funcţia de editor la AROY, iar în 1957 de Preşedinte AROY. Atunci a iniţiat o coloana numită "President's Corner", in engleză, unde se reflecta activitatea de la Vatra şi AROY.
Ȋn timpul congreselor de la Vatra era responsabilul standului "Solia".
S-a angajat la "Detroit Free Press" şi s-a înscris la "Wayne State University" pe care a absovit-o în 1967.
A lucrat apoi în "Departament of Education, Vocational Rehabilitation Services", State of Michigan. Ȋn această perioadă, şi-a dedicat mai mult timp pentru editarea "Soliei", cu ocazia mutării locului de tipărire in Woodward Avenue, Detroit. A fost numit editorul în engleză al "Soliei", PS Episcop Valerian rămânând editorul în româneşte. De multe ori, când PS Episcop Valerian era plecat sau foarte ocupat Traian Lascu prelua intreaga sarcină a editării publicaţiei.
Observând că trecând anii, membrii AROY, rămâneau în afara asociaţiei, datorită vârstei, i-a sugerat PS Episcop Valerian, să înfiinţeze o nouă organizaţie auxiliară. Astfel la Congresul Episcopiei din 1967 s-a infiinţat "Orthodox Brotherhood" (Frăţia Ortodoxă), organizaţie creată pentru enoriaşi, creştini ortodocşi. A fost ales primul Chairman al organizaţiei, şi de atunci şi-a dedicat mult timp pentru buna funcţionare a ei.
Ȋn 1974, Congresul Episcopiei a aprobat propunerea IPS Arhiepiscop Valerian de a înfiinţa un "Heritage Center". Doi ani mai târziu, Traian Lascu a ocupat funcţia de "President of the Center" iar IPS Arhiepiscop Valerian "Chairman of the Board".
Ȋn urma plecării întru Domnul a IPS Arhiepiscop Valerian, Traian Lascu a devenit "Chairman of the Board". La propunerea lui, centrul şi-a schimbat numele în "Valerian D. Trifa Romanian-American Heritage Center".
După pensionare a fost editor al "Informattion Bulletin". Sănătatea precară a celei de a doua soţii, care a decedat in 2001, l-a obligat sa se retragă din activittea centrului.
Ne-a părăsit pe 8 decembrie 2015, la vârsta de 92 de ani, în Florida.
A fost depus la "John N. Santeiu & Son Funeral Home", Garden City, Michigan. Serviciul religios din 12 decembrie 2015 a fost oficiat de PC Părinte Laurence Lazar, în prezenţa IPS Arhiepiscop Nathaniel, la Catedrala "Sfântul Gheorghe", Southfield, Michigan.
Se odihneşte pe veci, aşa cum şi-a dorit, în Cimitirul "Sfânta Maria" de la Vatra, Grass Lake, Michigan.
"Information Bulletin" Nr1 Fall 1983 - Editor Traian Lascu
Thirteen years ago, on July 6th, 1975, in the AROY Conference Room at the Vatra, the Articles of Incorporation of the Romanian-American Heritage Center were singed. Thus was initiated the project of setting up a research and documentation institution dedicated to the anonymous, often forgotten and neglected, Romanian immigrant in America.
It vas to be a daring venture. The newly incorporated institution has no money, no location, and no one connected with it at that time had any experience in running such an institution.
Oh yes, there were some promises of financial help behind the venture. Somewhere, in Tusla, Oklahoma, there lived a Romanian lady by the name of Marie McWilliams, who had wanted to do something for her ethnic group. With that thought in mind she had approached His Eminence, Archbishop Valerian some five years earlier, and after becoming convinced that an old folks home at the Vatra, which was her first thought, was too difficult a project to carry out, she embraced the idea of a Heritage Center as suggested to her by Archbishop Valerian. She knew quite well that at that time, in her own words, when a Romanian immigrant died "his footprints in the New World were lost forever". A Heritage Center would avoid such happening. To that end she set up a Trust composed of her estate, with the proposed Center as the beneficiary after her death.
Traian Lascu, The American Romanian Orthodox Youth - A short History
That promise of financial help gave the fledgling institution a boost, no dough about it. But the reason of the Center's subsequent success is due primarily to the man who had conceived the idea of a such a Center and would guide its uncertain steps for the next eight years.
Traian Lascu, VALERIAN 1951-1684
The planning, fundraising, and building phase took three years to complete. The Archbishop strongly believed that a useful project such as the Center had a good chance to succeed, and he was right. The project generated national interest and enthusiasm. The Episcopate, its auxiliaries, its parishes, the Union and League and some of its fraternal associations and social clubs, contributed substantial amounts of money and o dream was to become a reality. The Episcopate leased the new, non-profit corporation a one-acre parcel of land for ninety-nine years for one dollar, on which to build the Center, after preliminary cost studies to build it in Detroit or Cleveland proved prohibitive and beyond its means.*** *** ***
Ground was broken on March 19, 1977, and the walls of the new building went up quickly. However, shortly after puting the building under roof, the contractor went bankrupt. Rather then losing time looking around for the another contractor to complete the building, with the help of the supervising architect, the function was now taken over by his Eminence himself. With all the building that had gone on before at the Vatra and in many of the parishes, His Eminence had become quite apt in supervising constructions and renovation work. Subcontracting bids went out to complete the interior work, and the building program proceeded on schedule. At this stage, His Eminence would spend many hours in conferences with the architect and subcontractors and in supervising the work to see that the job was done right.
Even with His Eminence's phenomenal stewardship, not enough money could be raised in the end in donation to complete the building project, and a $50,000 internal loan from friends and supporters was launched to complete it at a cost of $180,000. The new Center was inaugurated with proper religious ceremonies and festivities on Sunday, May 28, 1978.
Efforts at the beginning were directed towards furnishing the Center, which was accomplished through the generosity of Mr. Andrew Peru, one of the Center's major Benefactors.
Next came the task of cataloguing the sizeable archival material the Center had already acquired, among which were the complete archives of the Episcopate transferred to the Center in 1979. Not being able to find a permanent Director for the Center at that time, the task of cataloguing and classifying was taken over and accomplished under the direction of Mr. Stelian Stănicel, who accepted to serve as the Center's Administrator without pay for the time being.
The year 1979 also saw the publication of the first book by the Romanian-American Heritage Center, "The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America. The First Half Century, 1929-1979", by Gerald J. Bobango, published on the occasion of the Episcopate's 50th anniversary. The cost of printing and distribution of the book which amounted to $12,000, was covered by the generosity of 12 donors mentioned in the acknowledgement in the book.
Three years later, the Center would publish its second book, "Language Maintenance Within an American Ethnic Community: The case of Romanian" by Alexandra Roceric.
Five years after its inauguration, the Heritage Center decided to broaden its operation. During the summer of 1983, Mr. Eugene Boia, a student form Cleveland, did research at the Center and completed a bibliography of the Center's holding.
In October of 1983, Mr David Bernatowicz, a graduate student in History was hired as the Center's first Secretary-Archivist. His duty would include the publication of a quarterly Bulletin, the inventorying of new material donated to the Center, and the carrying of the day to day activities of the Center.
Also in October of 1983, the Center came out of the first issue of the "Information Bulletin" at that time a 12-page, typewritten publication, as a liaison between its members and supporters and with those interested in the field of ethnic studies. Subsequent research and contribution from our readers have necessitated an expansion of the "Information Bulletin", to the point where today it is printed in 16 pages. The printing process and the increased pages allow us to bring our readers twice as much material then in the past. As of the beginning of this year, the "Information Bulletin", is being published bi-monthly.
In October of 1984, the Heritage Center hired a new Secretary-Archivist, in the person of Mr. Alexandru Nemoianu, a historian educated in Romania and recently arrived in the United State. The knowledge of the Romanian language was deemed to be a necessity in order for the Secretary-Archivist to benefit from the research of the many documents in the Romanian language in the Center's holding.
The operational machinery for the Center is in place. What we will need from now on is our community's financial support in order not only to continue its present program, but to expand them with new research and an expanded publication program.
Adunarea Comitetului AROY, în Gary, Ind., noiembrie 1956. Printre cei invitaţi: PS Episcop Valerian, PC Părinţii Victor Bărbulescu şi Eugen Lazar, Prinţesa Ileana. Primul din stg. Traian Lascu.
Sfinţirea Troiţei de la Vatra pe 30 Mai 1958 - Memorial Day (din articolul "The Year of the Troitza" - AROY, A short History). Proiect suportat de AROY. Pe ea se află scris: "In memory and in gratitude, AROY dedicates this cross to our parents who gave us the precious gift of Orthodoxy. Blessed this day, May 30, 1958, by His Grace Bishop Valerian."
Comitetul Executiv al Episcopiei a inaugurat "Camera AROY" (AROY Room) în clădirea de la Vatra - Memorial Day 1960. PS Episcop Valerian în mijlocul membrilor comitetului. Primul din stg. rând II, Traian Lascu
Preşedinţi ai organizaţiilor naţionale invitaţi la Conferinţele "Frăţiei Ortodoxe" (Orthodox Brotherhood), (stg. la dr.): Traian Lascu Orthodox Brotherhood; Sophie Morris ARFORA; Anne Mercea, Ladies Auxiliary of U&L; Eugene Popescu, Union & League.