EUGEN OVIDIU CHIROVICI
Past Grand Master, National Grand Lodge of Romania
Honorary Director, MASONIC FORUM Magazine
I met Claudiu Ionescu shortly after the unification of the two Grand Lodges. That was back in January of 2001. He had requested an interview for a magazine of which I had never heard. It was called Masonic Forum. Eventually, I gave him the interview.
Afterwards, we became friends. In Romania, we use the appellation “brother” vis-ŕ-vis of approximately ten thousand members of the Respectable Lodges comprising our Obedience, but we only get to know and to be friend a disappointingly small number of them.
Upon my election to the position of Grand Master, I inherited from my predecessor, the MW Bro. Gheorghe Comănescu, the obligation of reviewing the materials of each issue of the magazine before it goes to print. After a dozen years as a newspaperman, I had a horror of censorship of any kind and the never-ending discussions about the fundamentals, the formal stuff and opportunity which sour up the life of journalists in the written press. That is why I gave Claudiu a broad license regarding editorials, as well as the choice of his subjects and collaborators.
I did ask a number of my good friends – Thomas W. Jackson, Chaim Henry Gehl, Alberto Menasche – to accept appointments to an Honorary Committee and they graciously extended, by their presence, a guarantee of quality to the magazine. MW Bro Vladimir Boantă was another priceless support for a magazine at the beginning of its journey, therefore seeking an identity. For seven years, I have the privilege of writing the opening editorial of the magazine – those texts are, I believe, a veritable cronicle of a period that was not at all easy for our Grand Lodge.
Gradually, the magazine became more than a graphically successful publication, stuffed with shiny photographs: it transformed into a veritable calling card of the Craft in Romania. In the first period of my terms in office, when I was visiting Grand Lodges the world over in search of official recognitions, I have the pleasant surprise to see that I was already preceded by the Masonic Forum and that the magazine was unanimously appreciated for the quality of the articles it hosted and its exceptional graphic deportment. Among others, it managed to achieve an important opening toward the Mother Grand Lodge of the World, the United Grand Lodge of England, in a time when contacts between that Obedience and the NGLR were almost null. Masonic Forum was, at that time, a kind of message stuck into a bottle and thrown into the troubled ocean of the international Masonic world, carrying news from an area of an European East which had barely come out of communism and which was still striving in the pangs of birth.
But the Forum accomplished successfully its internal mission as well: that is to say, to become a round table of intellectual debates, absent which a Grand Lodge would become merely a body widowed, soulless. It has managed to publish extraordinary sketches, drafted by Brethren who would otherwise have remained anonymous outside their own Respectable Lodges, it popularized throughout the Obedience those local cultural and charitable initiatives which were worthy of notice, it has hosted interviews which have become veritable landmarks for the work of the Lodges, it has assured oftentimes the connection between the Grand Council and the Respectable Lodges of the Obedience, explaining the opportunity of initiatives of one kind or another. Alongside the other publications enriching the Masonic life of our Obedience, Masonic Forum has contributed decisively to a certain internal clarification of the attitudes, options, objectives. This may be the most important thing for a young Grand Lodge.
As all lovers of history, I have also studied along the years the history of Regular Freemasonry in Romania, coming into contact by default with various publications which the NGLR, as an ensemble, or some Lodges individually, has published or guaranteed in the 130 years of Masonic history (which was brutally interrupted in the communist period). I was thrilled by the profundity of the debates, but I was at the same time saddened by the ephemeral character of their editorial life. Masonic Forum has accomplished the feat of becoming the longest-lived Masonic publication in our country’s history. It is a rare achievement, especially in times that were not shielded from crisis. And it is an important sign that the activity of our Obedience has entered, in this last decade, in an age of edification.
At this anniversary, therefore, I cannot but congratulate Bro. Claudiu Ionescu for his persistence and his dedication. I assure him that he will always find me close as a human being, as a Brother and as a newspaperman. I extend an invitation to him, to dream together of the day when the magazine will celebrate its 100th issue. Congratulations, Claudiu, to you as well as to all the Brethren who have made our magazine not only last, but sparkle. As someone once said, God only helps the brave.
(London, October 2012)