Our Harmony & Heritage Pilgrimage – October 30 – November 10, 2014 

 Twenty First Parishioners, including Howard and Beth celebrated All Souls Day with partner families, toured sites in Keresztúr and the surroundiing area, and went on the annual pilgrimage to the hilltop citadel where Francis David was imprisoned and died in 1579 after founding the Hungarian Unitarian Church.  We’ll also sung together with our partner congregation and made good headway in developing a bilingual songbook of folk and popular songs. 

For slides of the pilgrimage, go to: 


Reminder:  To keep up to date on the latest news about our Transylvania Partnership Community we maintain a Google Groups email list at Transylvania Friends where you can see past posts and update your Google profile.  

If you would like to join this friendly group, please email Rodger Mattlage.  If your are not already a Google member, just click this link and you will be prompted to register – it’s easy, free and you can use your existing email address.

Note:   if you want to link this to page from other pages, documents, news articles, emails, etc,

please use this short URL: http://bit.ly/FPTPpgms

– Pilgrimage Program  – 

A huge part of partnership is building relationships between people in our two congregations.  The best way to build deep and lasting relationships is to be face to face with each other.   From our first sporadic pilgrimages in the 1990’s we have evolved to where we now support a four-year cycle of pilgrimages, with an Adults/Culture/Choir pilgrimage on the 1st year of the cycle, Youth Service pilgrimages on the 2nd and 4th years, and a Keresztúr delegation visiting us on the 3rd year.  Note: due to transitions in Concord and Keresztúr there was no pilgrimage in 2015.  Both congregations are working together to develop the next chapter in our partnership program.

Every year we also support a First Parish delegate to Keresztúr’s Unitarian high school graduation – see more details in the Student Scholarship Program section, below.

Adult/ Choir/Culture Pilgrimages:  Co-sponsored with the Music Program, since in 2002 First Parish has also sent choir delegations to Keresztúr.  We plan to continue to do so every four years.   Click any of the following links to open the photo album for the corresponding pilgrimage: 2014 2010  2007 2002  –  The next Adult/Choir pilgrimage is planned for 2018. 

Youth Service Pilgrimages (YSPs) :  Co-sponsored with the High School Youth Program , and the Socal Action Community (SAC), every other year, starting in 2003, we have sent a youth delegation with adult chaperones to Keresztúr to live and work with our friends there.    Click any of the following links to open the photo album for the corresponding pilgrimage: 20132011 2009 2007 2005 2003.

Keresztúri Pilgrimages to Concord: After supporting a few delegations from Keresztur to Concord we have settled on a four-year cycle for pilgrimages which bring our brothers and sisters to our homes in Concord. Click any of the following links to open the photo album for the corresponding pilgrimage: 20122008 ,  2006   – The next Keresztúri pilgrimage is scheduled for September 2016.

In addition to this formal four-year pilgrimage cycle, every year sees individuals traveling on their own initiatives to visit friends and extended families.



– Student Scholarship Program  –

Since Ivan and Ursula Kristoffy sponsored the first student in 1996, our scholarship program has provided opportunities to help Transylvanian Unitarian families pay for the living expenses of high school students in the Berde Mózses Unitarian High School in Székelykeresztúr, and often on to college and university.  To date (January 2016) 191 students have benefited from scholarship donations totalling slightly over $318,800 dollars from more than 135 families from First Parish and the Massachusetts Hungarian community.

The Keresztúr Scholarship Committee, including our partner minister and the high school principal, identify incoming freshmen who need financial help based on a combination of:  financial need, scholastic ability, and motivation to complete their degree.    Students who live more than a few kilometers away often have to live in the dormitory, as the roads can be impassable in bad weather.  Many families can not afford the $800 – $1,100 per year expenses for room and board.  Sponsors agree to pay $400 of this annual fee for each of the four years of high school.  Many sponsors continue to support students as they go on to college, currently at the level of $600 per year.

Students and sponsors are encouraged to write each other at least twice a year. These sponsor-student communications often result in close friendships, and many sponsors have visited their students and their families, attended their graduations, their weddings, etc.

Every year we also support a delegate from First Parish to represent us at the graduation at the Unitarian high school in Keresztúr.  For photos from these graduations see the respective photo albums:  2011 , 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.

For more in depth information about education of the Hungarian minority population in Transylvania, please refer to the Education article starting on page 5 in the Winter 2007-2008 UUPCC Newsletter (Volume 14, Number 3) on the UUPCC’s Newsletter Page .

If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship possibilities, please contact our sponsorship coordinators: Dana Booth or Rodger Mattlage.


Please note:Our partnership program activities include a number of initiatives. To ensure the success of all these initiatives, we are always looking for more committee members.  If you’re interested in working with the Partner Congregation Committee, please contact our chair:  Ken Estbrook at ken.estabrook@gmail.com


Some of our Previous Activities and Pilgrimages


The Summer 2013 Youth and Family Pilgrimage

Summary:  For our 6th bi-annual youth-oriented pilgrimage, 13 adults, children and youth represented First Parish in Keresztúr in July.  You can see photos of the pilgrimage at http://on.fb.me/18lC7rv and http://bit.ly/1arNMod

Many thanks to everybody who made this visit possible and such a meaningful one for everyone!!

The Fall 2012 Keresztúr delegates Pilgrimage to Concord:  September – October, 2012

Summary:  Six adult leaders and six youth leaders visited us in Concord.  They came to renew old friendships, create new ones, help us celebrate Transylvanian Unitarian Thanksgiving, see the sights and learn about our New England and UU heritage.  For photos and quides to pronouncing their names go to:  http://gallery.firstparish.org/gallery3/index.php/Partner-Cngn/2012-Kereszturi-Pilgrims.  And, you can see photos from their stay with us at http://on.fb.me/W6DV1e 

Many thanks to all of you who made this visit possible and such a meaningful one for everyone!! 

Culture and Music Pilgrimage:  Oct 24 – Nov 2, 2010

Summary: We  spent most of our time in and around Keresztúr, where we were once again treated with amazing hospitality and reconnected with old friends and established many new connections and friendships sightseeing together, sharing meals together, working together (weaving rugs and landscaping), singing together and celebrating together.

For photos taken by our pilgrims go to our Photo album in the First Parish photo gallery at: http://gallery.firstparish.org/gallery3/index.php/Partner-Cngn/2010FallPilgrimage

Links to photos and maps we used for our pilgrimage planning, are still at
http://rmattlage.posterous.com/transylvanian-culture-and-music-pilgrimage-oc .
Or download the two-page insert version with the same content on pages 20 – 21 in the April edition of the First Parish Monthly News ->  download the PDF.

March 4 – 6, 2010 – we hosted the UUPCC Executive Board Meetings & a Potluck Supper, Fri, March 5th.

Here are some comments from some of the board members:

“The meeting was great from start to finish and Concord was a great place to do this.  Please let everyone know how much we appreciated their hospitality.”

“My many thanks to you and the great people at First Parish Concord for their hospitality and excellent support.  It was a great experience.”

“It was a great meeting, and all of the work that you and your crew did was completely transparent.  The food was fabulous, the meeting facilities ideal, the location perfect.”

Links to photos of the board meetings and the potluck supper are at

UUPCC Board @ First Parish in Concord, MA Flickr Photos


January 2010 Balázs Scholar Visit


On Friday, Jan. 8 we hosted this year’s Francis Balázs Scholar, Rev. Róbert Bálint, and his family for a short vespers service, pot-luck supper and open discussion period.  

For photos from this event as well as from others events with the Bálint family at neighboring congregations see

Photo Album:  Jan 2010 Balázs Scholar in New England

For more about Rev. Bálint & family, their mid-winter visit on the east coast, the Balázs Scholars Program, and his congregation in Mészkő the “Alabaster Village”, see:

Winter 2009 – 2010 Balázs Scholar’s East Coast Visit

Székelykeresztúr-Concord Unitarian Congregations’ Friendship House Reconstruction Project


In 2007, the Romanian Government finally returned ownership of a building which has been renovated into a wonderful multi-use center for the community in Keresztúr.  Our congregation provided financial support and the labor of our 2007 and 2009 youth pilgrimages.

In September 2009, our delegation of Ivan & Ursula Kristoffy, Rodger Mattlage & Pat Brinkman, and Peggy Claybrook traveled to Keresztúr to represent us at their two days of dedication celebrations.

See photos of the dedication ceremonies at: The Community House Dedication Ceremonies Album

In October 2010 our Culture and Music Pilgrimage  helped celebrate the Naming Ceremonies officially designating it the “Székelykeresztúr – Concord Congregations’ Friendship House“, or “Friendship House” for short.

See photos of the Dedication Ceremonies at: http://bit.ly/yPLl7d

[Rodger Mattlage , our webmaster welcomes comments, questions and suggestions.]