Mgr Georges Rochcau was born on December 31, 1915. He would be 96 years old at the present, today. He had been ordained a priest during the war in 1943 for the service among the Russian Catholics of Byzantine rite. Educated in Japan, France, England, he also helped as a chaplain at the end of World War II among the Allied troops in Germany. It was more than amazing to hear him speak of this time of post-WWII as he used to confess trains of “Soviet soldiers” that were returning to their homeland and knew they would be killed or deported.
We met as prot. Georges was heading the Refugee Department of the Secours Catholique. He had become a known specialist about the Refugees and was an acting member of many international organizations and institutions.
He also became a notorious specialist on the communist countries and the Russian Church. He knew all the heads of the Russian Churches everywhere in the world, helped after the war the Displaced Peoples to settle from Harbin, and China to North and South America. There he built the only church he constructed and it happened to be a church for the Orthodox Community in Brazil.
As such he was also appointed the Apostolic Visitor for the Russian Byzantine Catholics throughout the world. He always refused to be ordained a bishop, considering that “the world” is no “local Church territory”. He did work with the Jesuit Fathers at the Slavic Center of Meudon that educated most of the Orthodox priests who built and sustained the Russian Church in Europe (Institut Saint Serge) and in America (Saint Vladimir’s Institute).
For decades, he was one of the members of the steering committee of the Orthodox Theological Institute of Saint Serge at Paris and subsequently always provided funding at that time, esp. by governmental contacts.
Fr. Georges was pragmatic. Active. He had gone through terrible experience in his personal and social life. He had instroduced me to all possible Orthodox contacts. He had a very deep knowledge and experience of the Jewish society. He could send his brother, late Fr. Vsevolod to Jerusalem, to head the “Abraham’s House/Maison d’Abraham” at Jerusalem, explaining that only an Eastern rite can understand the local stand and mentality.
He is, with late Fr. Kurt Hruby, the one example of what can be tested for the fullness of the Church and make signs of real human assistance true, authentic and truly believe, in hope beyond hope, that God calls to borders and makes some individuals overcome them with sense and insights.
Prot. Georges fully understood that my family has something to do in Jerusalem for the sake of the Church and paving the way to a real connection with Israeli society and Judaism.
For years, he came to celebrate his birthday on the eve of each new year with our family. I could be present at his funeral as I was incidentally in Paris and the celebration was headed by Mgr Michael Hrynchyshyn of the Greek Catholic Ukrainians in France and Switzerland. I also saw there for the last time Prot. Bernard Dupire, a very dedicated man of God. He was a French from the North and had studied at the Russicum in Rome. A man of deep spirituality, with many “spiritual sons and daughters”, often coming from the traditional post-Council French Church. He also headed for decades the center of “Les Deux Ours/The Two Bears” located in the Latin Quarter. It has been the meeting place for a lot of intellectuals and students and all sorts of individuals and God-seekers. A way to face the fall of communism in time. He also initiated a move so that the monastics of East and West could meet and show the reality of the original unity of Christian call in Europe. The above picture shows him on the right on the day when Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger made his unique pastoral visit to the Holy Trinity Church at the Rue François-Gérard.
This year, for the first time in many years, I went to the little church/parish of the Holy Trinity. Mgr Georges never knew the unbelievable hardships that I and my family had to endure to officially be appointed just as a deacon – to begin with – at his church. He had attended my ordination and was happy to welcome us. The present delegate of the diocesan archbishop for the Oriental rite communities without Catholic bishops welcomed me by these words: “I was not involved in these churches when you served here”. We had met quite often some twenty-five years ago… for the purpose of street association that had drowned to the pit, not fully yet!
Eternal memory! Вечная память!
av aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)