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1927 Peter 2022

Peter Anastasis

October 2, 1927 — January 12, 2022

Requiem Mass will be at 10:00 AM Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at Assumption Chapel in St. Marys.  Interment will be in Our Lady Of Peace Cemetery.  A rosary will be recited at 5:20 PM Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at the church.  The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 2:00 until 4:00 PM Tuesday at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions to the Immaculata Church Project may be made by clicking here.


ABRIDGED OBITUARY

(please skip this section and scroll below if interested in extended version)

Peter Gregory Anastasis (formerly Nastase) died peacefully early in the morning of January, 12, 2022 at the age of 94.

His surviving family includes his wife Elena (56 years of marriage), his sons Corneliu Nastase and Basarab Louis (Ashley) Anastasis; his daughters, Rosita (Rino) Orlandi, Myriam (Jake) Avancena and Esmeralda Nastase and 12 grandchildren.

Peter (Puiu) was born on October, 2, 1927, in Bucharest, Romania – the son of Constantin and Elena Nastase.

Peter read his first novel by the end of first grade and seemed destined for lofty, academic heights. But alas, World War II and the scourge of the Russian takeover in 1944 would change Peter's life forever. The Communists imprisoned 500,000+ Romanians – mostly young, innocent, Christian men who refused to become Communists.

Peter was a devout Orthodox Christian and had committed to always sacrificing himself for God, family and country. And so, the Communists arrested Peter in 1949.

Peter was tortured numerous times and even beaten unconscious. He and his inmates often lived in overcrowded cells full of feces and urine. Their standard meal was a small portion of rotten cabbage and moldy bread. Peter later remarked that he was nothing but “skin and bones”. His weight plummeted to 115 pounds and remained there for an extended time.

Peter would spend a total of nine years in prison (1949-53; 1959-64).

After prison, he obtained a doctorate in classical literature along with masters degrees in mathematics with a concentration in astronomy. Peter also learned eight languages: Romanian, Latin, Greek, English, Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese. During his minimal free time, Peter wrote exceptional poetry and even two books about his sufferings.

Unfortunately, because of Peter's track record and refusal to join the Communist Party, the government stripped away all of his degrees. Still, Peter remained strong, faithful and optimistic, always trusting God's providence despite the seemingly hopeless adversity. He married his wife Elena on May 6, 1965.

Out of sheer necessity, Peter labored as a welder and also in a soap factory to provide for his four children. He also translated books and technical manuals from foreign languages into Romanian.

Rather than blame God for all of his misfortunes, Peter joyfully persevered in his Orthodox faith. However, after reading about the miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes, France, Peter converted to Catholicism.

On July 20, 1983, Peter and Elena started a hunger strike to force the government to grant their family exile out of the country. At one point, a friend notified the family that George H.W. Bush, United States Vice President at the time, was about to visit Romania. The friend told the Nastases that Bush had a list of Romanian human rights violations he was going to speak to the Communists about and that their hunger strike situation was at the top of his list.

On the 59th day of the hunger strike, the Communists agreed to allow the family to emigrate to the United States. Peter, an avid Greek scholar, decided to change the family name from Nastase to Anastasis which means "Resurrection” in Greek.

Peter's family (including Elena's mother, Maria) arrived to St Louis, Missouri, greeted by a welcoming letter from President Ronald Reagan who had heard about their sufferings. Then, to everyone's surprise, Peter (57) and Elena (47) welcomed their fifth child in 1985 - Basarab Louis.

Peter moved the family to Cleveland where he worked as a nurse's aid and a security guard. God, however, had a plan for this suffering scholar. In 1993, Fr Ramon Angles rewarded Peter with his dream job at St Mary's Academy and College by hiring him to teach Latin and Classical Greek.

Peter earned a reputation as a gentle, kind-hearted teacher who would do anything for his students. And although Peter had converted to Roman Catholicism long ago, he always followed the more severe Orthodox fasts he grew up with. For several periods throughout the year, Peter would not only avoid meat, but also fish, eggs, dairy and oils. His life was truly one of cheerful mortification. He always repeated Our Lord's prescription of “prayer and penance” to the loved ones around him. He would often advise his children to “always cling to God.”

Peter finally retired after teaching for almost 20 years. He soon undertook another challenge – translating the Old Testament from Classical Greek to English. He also started learning Hebrew. Unfortunately, early onset of dementia prevented the completion of these projects.

Peter suffered immensely throughout his life and even in his final years. From a worldly perspective, one could be tempted to think he missed out on something while he was alive. Or that perhaps God unfairly burdened Peter with crosses.

Yet we have Our Lady of Lourdes to reassure us of the truth when she spoke these consoling words to St. Bernadette: “I cannot promise you happiness in this life; only in the next.”

EXTENDED OBITUARY

Peter Gregory Anastasis (formerly Nastase) died peacefully early in the morning of January, 12, 2022 at the age of 94.

His surviving family includes his wife Elena (56 years of marriage), his sons Corneliu Nastase and Basarab Louis (Ashley) Anastasis; his daughters, Rosita (Rino) Orlandi, Myriam (Jake) Avancena and Esmeralda Nastase and 12 grandchildren.

Peter (Puiu) was born on October, 2, 1927, in Bucharest, Romania – the son of Constantin and Elena Nastase.

People could tell something was different about Peter right from the start. By the end of first grade, he had read the novel Archipelago on Fire by Jules Verne. And by 7 years old, Peter's favorite book was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by the same author. Later on, he would teach himself English and  Greek. He also trained in boxing and soccer as a youngster, though these activities took a backseat to his studies.

Peter breezed through his schooling and seemed destined for lofty, academic heights. But alas, World War II and the scourge of the Communist takeover would change Peter's life forever. Russian troops invaded Romania in 1944 and officially seized the country's government in 1948. They soon initiated a wave of 500,000+ arrests – mostly targeting any innocent, God fearing man who dared utter a word against “The Party.”

Peter was a devout Orthodox Christian and had committed to always sacrificing himself for God, family and country. And so, the Communists arrested Peter in 1949.

Beatings. Physical and psychological Torture. Isolation. Sleep and Nutritional Deprivation. These were some of the regime's favorite tools to use against its inmates. The Communists' goal was to “Re-Educate” the prisoners; that is, to break them physically and mentally to a point at which they would deny their Christian faith, accept Communism, snitch on another anti-Communist or some combination of the three.

Peter was tortured numerous times and even beaten unconscious. He and his inmates often lived in overcrowded cells full of feces and urine. Their standard meal was a small portion of rotten cabbage and moldy bread. Peter later remarked that he was nothing but “skin and bones”. His weight plummeted to 115 pounds and remained there for an extended time.

At Gherla, sometimes the prison director punished Peter by isolating him in a cold damp cell for an entire week without any sleep or food (except for one meal every three days) and without permission to sit down or so much as lean against a wall. Even after being released from isolation, Peter was still routinely beaten and tortured. He feared that he would die in prison. Peter then received an inspiration to take a drastic, bold move that may have saved his life.

When the prison guards were serving lunch one day, he violently knocked a hot bowl of porridge out of their hands and started screaming that the prison was on fire and that he was about to be assassinated. Peter was inspired to act this way so that the Communists would think he went mad and would cease torturing him. And that's exactly what happened.

At one point, Peter was transferred to a labor camp connected to a Danube River canal. The prison guards would force the inmates to dig the canal from sun up to sun down. The prisoners sometimes had to drink water out of puddles from car and horse tracks. The guards also forced the inmates to work in all kinds of weather and they would often suffer from frostbite during the winter.

Peter was not allowed to speak to the other inmates. Instead, he often communicated via Morse Code by knocking on the cement walls separating their cells. He also communicated with them by carving words onto bars of soap.

On multiple occasions throughout his life, Peter experienced dreams or inspirations which foretold a future event or inspired him to take decisive actions. One of these dreams occurred in 1964.

A beautiful lady surrounded by light appeared to Peter and asked him, “Do you want to know when you will be released from prison?” She then opened a notebook for him which contained the words “August 1, 1964.” Soon after Peter's dream, the Communists decided to offer amnesty to release all the prisoners. And he was indeed freed from prison on August 1, 1964.  Peter would spend a total of nine years in prison (1949-53; 1959-64).

Peter immediately immersed himself in his studies. He would eventually obtain a doctorate in classical literature along with masters degrees in mathematics with a concentration in astronomy. Peter also epitomized the term “polyglot” by learning eight languages: Romanian, Latin, Greek, English, Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese. During his minimal free time, Peter wrote exceptional poetry even winning prizes along the way. Later, he would write two books (Evadare and Temerarii) in Romanian detailing his sufferings, especially in prison.

Unfortunately, because of Peter's track record and refusal to join the Communist Party, the government stripped away all of his degrees. The Communists then enticed Peter with financial rewards if he would meet with them monthly to snitch on other anti-Communist Romanians. Peter refused and from that day on, government officials followed Peter whenever he traveled from place to place.

Still, Peter remained strong, faithful and optimistic, always trusting God's providence despite the seemingly hopeless adversity. He married his wife Elena on May 6, 1965. He and his wife raised four children which drew the scorn and mockery of many around them because of how challenging it was to raise a large family during this political climate.

Out of sheer necessity, Peter labored as a welder and also in a soap factory. He also translated books and technical manuals from foreign languages into Romanian. On one occasion, the Communists overpaid Peter for some of his work at a time when he could barely afford enough food to feed his family. But rather than keep the money, Peter returned the over payment to the government. This is the kind of principled, God-fearing, honest man he was.

Rather than blame God for all of his misfortunes, Peter joyfully persevered in his Orthodox faith. Yet as an avid reader, he discovered a story which would change his spiritual life forever. He read about the miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes, France. Peter realized that the Orthodox religion did not feature a single instance of an approved public apparition of the Blessed Virgin while the Catholic religion featured many. Peter thus decided to convert to Catholicism.

Meanwhile, the brutal dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu led Romania during these tyrannical years. Peter worried about the future of his children. He feared they would never be able to succeed professionally due to being the progeny of such an outspoken anti-Communist.

On July 20, 1983, Peter started a hunger strike with his wife to force the government to grant their family exile out of the country. Even his four teenaged children joined him for most of the first two weeks. By divine help/intervention, they were able to communicate the start of their hunger strike to a visiting German named Wanda who was able to inform a Human Rights society in Frankfurt as well as Radio Free Europe. She served as a liaison between the Nastases and the society and radio station. These in turn placed pressure on the Romanian government to give the Nastase family the right to emigrate.  At one point, they notified the family that several prime ministers, including Romania's, were meeting in Madrid, Spain to discuss their hunger strike among other matters. George H.W. Bush, United States Vice President at the time, was about to visit Romania. Bush had a list of Romanian human rights violations he was going to speak to the Communists about and the Nastase hunger strike situation was at the top of his list.

Soon the Romanian government cut the phone lines to the Nastase apartment. The Communists also spied on their apartment day and night and followed the children on their way to and from school. Finally, the Romanian government, fearing that Bush and the Americans would place sanctions on their country because of the hunger strike, notified Peter and Elena that their family would be allowed to leave Romania. Their hunger strike had reached its 59th day.

Peter, an avid Greek scholar, decided to change the family name from Nastase to Anastasis. Anastasis means “Resurrection” in Greek, a term which seemed to describe the family's plight rather accurately.

Peter's family (including Elena's mother, Maria) arrived to a Catholic Community in St Louis, Missouri, greeted by a welcoming letter from President Ronald Reagan who had heard about their sufferings. Still, the family arrived to the U.S. in abject poverty. Peter had no proof that he had any college experience and so was forced to start from scratch by studying theology at St. Louis University.

Then, to everyone's surprise, Peter (57) and Elena (47) welcomed their fifth child in 1985 - Basarab Louis. During her pregnancy, Elena was advised to have an abortion due to her advanced age. But just like all of their previous decisions, Peter and Elena preferred to trust in God rather than take the easy road out.

Peter was always generous despite his family's poverty. Despite having no money to his name while working odd jobs and attending college, he still found a way to donate money every month to starving children from Africa. Divine Providence then took the Anastasis family to Alliance, Ohio and later to Cleveland. Peter greeted everyone there with a smile. He would travel exclusively by bus in Cleveland and would always thank his bus drivers with a “May God Bless You” when he disembarked.

Peter also had a kind heart for animals as he recognized them as God's creatures. While in Cleveland, Louis accidentally dropped his pet box turtle, chipping its shell and causing a serious injury. Peter frantically loaded up his son and wife in the car around midnight to try to find a 24 hour veterinary service that could help the pet.

Peter worked whatever jobs necessary to keep his family clothed and fed. He worked as a nurse's aid and at one point as a security guard during the graveyard shift at a factory in an area notorious for its high crime rate. God, however, had a plan for this suffering scholar. In 1993, Fr Ramon Angles rewarded Peter with his dream job at St Mary's Academy and College, by hiring him to teach Latin and Classical Greek.

Peter earned a reputation as a gentle, kind-hearted teacher who would do anything for his students. He would pray for their success before their exams and spent as much time as possible assisting them so they could pass the courses.

Peter spent his free time praying, attending daily Mass, caring for the family golden retriever “Nugget” and watching an occasional Cleveland Indians, Browns or Cavaliers game.  For many summers of his life, Peter spent one to two hours a day swimming laps and practicing his diving.

And although Peter had converted to Roman Catholicism long ago, he always followed the more severe Orthodox fasts he grew up with. For several periods throughout the year, Peter would not only avoid meat, but also fish, eggs, dairy and oils. His life was truly one of cheerful mortification. He always repeated Our Lord's prescription of “prayer and penance” to the loved ones around him. He would often advise his children to “always cling to God.”

Peter finally retired after teaching for almost 20 years. He soon undertook his next challenge – translating the Old Testament from Classical Greek to English. He also started learning Hebrew. Unfortunately, early onset of dementia prevented the completion of these projects.

Peter suffered immensely in his life and even in his final years. From a worldly perspective, one could be tempted to think he missed out on something while he was alive. Or that perhaps God unfairly burdened Peter with crosses.

Yet we have Our Lady of Lourdes to reassure us of the truth when she spoke these consoling words to St. Bernadette: “I cannot promise you happiness in this life; only in the next.”

Requiem Mass will be at 10:00 AM Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at Assumption Chapel in St. Marys.  Interment will be in Our Lady Of Peace Cemetery.  A rosary will be recited at 5:20 PM Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at the church.  The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 2:00 until 4:00 PM Tuesday at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions to the Immaculata Church Project may be made by clicking here.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Peter Anastasis, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Public Visitation

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

2:00 - 4:00pm

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Rosary

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Starts at 5:20pm

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Requiem Mass

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Starts at 10:00am

Assumption Chapel, St. Marys

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Interment

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Starts at 12:00pm

Our Lady Of Peace Cemetery

Mt Calvary Rd, Saint Marys, KS 66536

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