|Fr. Ilie Lacatusu|
By Elder Justin Parvu († 2013)
We stayed with Fr. Ilie Lacatusu († 1983) four years in Periprava at the Danube Delta.
He was generally distinguished for his internal strength and silence. Rarely did you hear him speak, and when you did he had something important to say.
Frequently he exhorted us to pray when we were in a dangerous situation. This man I must say was truly humble. He never wanted to come to the surface, but always tried to remain unnoticed.
I remember a miraculous event that took place at the Danube Delta, in which Fr. Ilie played a significant role.
On January 30th they sent us to the channel to cut bladderworts. Do you understand what this means in the middle of winter? Certain death. We were further dismayed by the fact that the guards had four guns with them. Maybe they wanted to execute us, believing that we will refuse to execute the order. There was an opening there in the water around forty hectares and the bladderworts were beyond deep. Everyone started telling each other that they will not enter the water. They ordered us to go in and gather two sets.
For whom were we doing this? It was without purpose. How could you enter the water? If you step into the swamp, who will pull you out? At first, we hesitated.
Then Fr. Ilie decided to encourage us, saying: "Enter, because they are having bad thoughts. They will shoot us. Enter and the Panagia with the Three Hierarchs will get us out unharmed and sound."
We entered. The water reached up to our chins. We worked as if we were on dry land. For others the water was up to their necks, while others to their chest, and others to their midsection, whatever it happened to be for each of us. We were in the water for three hours and nicely brought out what they asked from us, tidy and of the same size.
The temperature was -30 below and the ice had a thickness of 20-20 centimeters. Yellow blooming water lilies could be seen under the ice.
A great miracle happened that day. That morning it was foggy, the sky was cloudy and the cold pierced your bones. Suddenly the sun came out. There came such a warmth that even the guards were surprised. We took our clothes off to dry them and it was like we put them on the warmest stove, as the vapors came out. We dressed and returned to the prison.
Thus the Panagia and the Three Hierarchs were with us and helped us on that icy thirtieth day of January. Nobody got sick. If it wasn't for the prayers of Fr. Ilie, we would all have died.
Source: From the book Viata parintelui Iustin Pirvu. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.