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Bishop Valerian Trifa

Photo added by Donald Greyfield

Bishop Valerian Trifa

  • Birth 28 Jun 1914
  • Death 28 Jan 1987 Cascais, Cascais Municipality, Lisboa, Portugal
  • Burial Grass Lake, Jackson County, Michigan, USA
  • Memorial ID 13620936

Religious Leader. He came to America in 1950 and became a naturalized citizen in 1957. However, he allegedly hid a pro-Nazi past on his application and was ordered deported in 1983. Trifa had fought the allegations since 1973 after Jewish groups had brought to light his dark past while a young man living in his native Romania. He was no ordinary immigrant for in his 32 years in America, Archbishop Trifa had achieved extraordinary success as a citizen, influential and a popular cleric. He had risen to become an Orthodox Archbishop heading the Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate of America and a governing board member of the National Council of Churches. He had friends in high government places J. Edgar Hoover and then Vice President Richard Nixon considered him a good friend. Nixon asked him to give the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately Archbishop Trifa's very public successes brought him to the attention of Jewish groups as he was recognized as the man who in pre-war Romania incited anti-Semitic activities. He was hounded by radical Jewish groups who bombed Romanian Orthodox churches in New York forcing the archbishop to go into hiding after repeated threats on his life. Trifa was branded in the American press as the "Nazi Archbishop." After years of fruitless court battles to remove his American citizenship and have him deported, Trifa on his own renounced his American citizenship in 1983 to spare the episcopate further financial and public difficulty and resigned as diocesan bishop leaving for exile in Portugal. He literally had two separate lives. He was born Valerian Trifa in Campeni, Turda County, Romania and was well educated with a Bachelor in Theology from the University in Chisinau. He found employment as an administrator for Oastea Domnuli Publishing House which printed and distributed religious publications and books. He furthered his education by enrollment in a PhD program at the School of Theology in Bucharest and continued at the School of Philosophy in Berlin returning to Romania to become editor of Libertatea a religious newspaper. Trifa was voted President of the National Union of Romanian Christian Students. Hearsay and a witness placed him as head of the Romanian Iron Guard in Bucharest in 1941 with SS links to the Gestopo. The unit went on a rampage seeking out Jews for execution. In 1941, Trifia was repatriated to Germany where he spent the war years working as a secretary to a High Ranking Orthodox prelate. The postwar found him employed as a Professor at a Roman Catholic College in Italy. After immigrating to America, the multilingual Trifa quickly found employment at the "Herald" a religious paper in Cleveland. He became a cleric in 1952 rising rapidly through church ranks to become an Archbishop providing the leadership that rallied a Romania episcopate then in disarray and on the verge of becoming extinct. Under his direction, the number of priests and parishes grew dramatically and religious education flourished. A rundown farm near Jackson, Michigan became known as the Vatra Romanies. It was expanded and developed becoming the Diocesan Center of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America and the site of religious summer camps for youth and a training center for various church lay persons as well as a meeting place for Orthodox conferences consisting of priests and lay people. The seat of the Episcopate is located St George Romanian Orthodox Cathedral Southfield, Michigan. Its construction was spearheaded by Trifa. He lay the corner stone in 1959 and then officiated at its consecration in 1961. In 1960, the Archbishop united various groups of Romanian Churches which had broken from the Episcopate laying the foundations for a united multi-ethnic Orthodox Church in America. Leaving America, he was granted a temporary residential status in Portugal arriving in Lisbon in 1984. He lived quietly in Estoril a seaside resort town while awaiting permanent resident status. Upon his death, his body was taken to a local funeral Agency for disposition. Officials from the Romanian Church in Detroit handled his arrangements and the burial place was kept secret fearing desecration by detractors.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Donald Greyfield
  • Added: 14 Mar 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 13620936
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bishop Valerian Trifa (28 Jun 1914–28 Jan 1987), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13620936, citing Saint Mary Cemetery, Grass Lake, Jackson County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .