On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, the Feast of All Saints of the Franciscan Order, a diocesan inquiry was opened for the beatification of the Servant of God Friar Anton Demeter (1925-2006). The inquiry began with Mass at the chapel of the Franciscan Theological Institute of Roman in the Province of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Romania. Those present included the Most Reverend Petru Gherghel, Bishop of Iași, the Minister Provincial, Friar Teofil Petrişor; the Postulator General of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, Friar Pătraşcu Damian; the Vice-Postulator of the cause, Friar Cristian Blăjuţ and many friars and priests, along with a host of faithful Catholics and Orthodox Christians.
Friar Anton was born September 17, 1925, in Butea, Iași District, Romania. Immediately after primary school, he entered our Minor Seminary in Hălăucești. From there he went to the novitiate in Săbăoani (1945-1946) and to the Academy of St. Bonaventure in Luizi-Călugără. While there, in 1949, the Communist government suppressed all religious congregations and confiscated their goods. Friar Anton returned to his family. After working for two years as an accountant in a factory, he entered the seminary in Alba Iulia and completed his last year of theology. On June 29, 1953, he was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend Alexandru Cisar, Archbishop of Bucharest. He served as a parochial vicar in the Parish of Prăjeşti and then in the Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph in Bucharest. Five years later, he was arrested on the night of August 20, 1958, and after a sham trial, was sentenced to twenty years hard labor on charges of instructing children and young people on mystical-religious teachings and plotting against the social order. After a few days in prison in Jilava (Bucharest), his denouncers tried extorting him to level charges against other priests. When he steadfastly refused to do so, they struck his spine with a hammer and he shortly became paralyzed. Already gravely ill, he was sent to spend two years at two different labor camps, where he was forced to crawl on all fours to a place where he would be tortured, while other prisoners did his work for him.
In 1963, he was pardoned and confined to the Parish of Oțeleni, in Moldova, where, despite many restrictions by the communist authorities, he tried to welcome and listen to those who turned to him. In 1979, he retired due to illness and went to live in a house he bought near the parish church of Barticești. Finally, in 1993, he received an obedience to the St. Francis Friary in Roman, where he had just built the Minor Seminary and the Theological Institute, and where he served as confessor and spiritual director of the young. Highly sought after by people of all faiths, he was visited daily by large crowds to whom he offered advice and spiritual comfort.
After eighty-one years of life, forty-seven of which were spent in a wheelchair for the paralyzed, Father Anton died on the evening of December 20, 2006. His body was buried in the Roman Municipal Cemetery. Since that time, his tomb has become a pilgrimage destination where many faithful seek his help and intercession.
Friar Damian-Gheorghe PĂTRAŞCU, Postulator General