In 1976, the Soviet government allowed nineteen young men to enter the Kaunas Seminary. There were about thirty applicants. One of the applicants confirmed by the government never arrived, but the government did not allow another to take his place.
This year, the men who entered the seminary were especially zealously recruited to work as undercover security police agents. It is regrettable that this year certain applicants, who should not have been admitted, were admitted to the seminary, and quite a few truly serious applicants were not allowed to enter. Some were told not to attempt entering the seminary even in the future, because they would not be accepted.
And so, this year the Soviet government made a concession by agreeing to increase the number of entries to the seminary, but as a result did everything in its power to lower the quality of the applicants.
In June 1976 the customs duties on packages from the U.S. were increased 800%. Nowadays, Lithuanians are able to manage without material support from relatives living abroad; therefore, the funds previously allotted to material support can now be used for the most vital type of aid—the fight for national and religious freedom.
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania has obtained the first two issues of the underground publication Dievas ir Tėvy-nė (God and Country). Many readers are disappointed at the tone of this magazine, which is no credit to a religious publication. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, hopes the new publication will truly live up to its name in the future.
The second and third issues of Aušra (The Dawn) have also been published in Lithuania.
On their return from Rome, Bishops L. Povilonis and R. Krikščiūnas were searched by customs officials in Moscow. All religious articles were confiscated. During the search, even Bishop Povilonis' tie was ripped apart. Female custom employees derisively hung rosaries around their necks, thus deeply offending the high Church officials.
This search has received various interpretations in Lithuania. Some feel that the bishops did not carry out the mission the government had assigned them. Others, that the search is connected to intrigues by certain priests who attended the Eucharistic Congress. A third group suspects that this was a clever move by the security police to increase the authority of the bishops in the eyes of the Vatican.
In August, 1976, the Rector of the Kaunas Seminary, accompanied by the Dean of Šakiai, the Rev. J. Žemaitis, travelled to the Berlin Peace Conference. The Soviet government tries to give Dr. Butkus serious priests as companions in order to increase his authority. The Rev. J. Žemaitis did not go to Berlin of his own will, and intellectuals who are believers and many priests did not approve of this trip. The Berlin Peace Conferences are viewed in Lithuania as huge bubbles of lies which serious priests should not be blowing.
To: The State Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR
A Complaint from: Citizen Virgilijus Jaugelis, son of Vincas, residing in Kaunas, Markso 40-1.
On Wednesday June 23, 1976, as I was travelling to Kaunas, a "Moskvich" automobile stopped next to me in Raseiniai and two men stepped from it (one wearing a militia uniform, the other in civilian dress, obviously a securiy policeman whom I could easily recognize) demanding that I enter their car. I refused. Then, they demanded my personal documents and I gave them my papers.
They asked where I was coming from and where I was going; they demanded to see what my suitcase contained. I replied that I could not allow them to search either the suitcase or myself until they showed me the required document. They then forcibly sat me in their car, but did not drive to militia headquarters, merely staying in one spot and smoking. Later, they drove to a gas pump, again stayed there a long time, and finally we drove to the militia station. They were joined by another "colleague"' who urged them "not to waste time on the sniveler" but "beat him up and take care of him." They agreed with him, for they threatened to do as much, uttering the foulest Russian curses used' by the lowest criminals. All the while, they demanded that I allow the suitcase to be searched.
When we drove up to the militia station and stopped, they did not have me get out, but drove toward the woods. After driving quite a distance, they had me get out and the security agent tried to take the suitcase from me by force and also to search me, threatening to beat me, and cursing. When I refused to submit to a search, they again sat me in their car and drove farther toward the woods. Stopping again, they demanded with curses and threats that I submit to a search and forcibly tried to take my suitcase.
Because they did not have me get out at the militia headquarters to which they said they were taking me, but drove me toward the woods on an unknown road, I had no doubt that these "officials" were not militia and security employees, but criminals who wanted to rob and perhaps even murder me. Their aforementioned actions and appearance raised no doubts in my mind, and I was astonished that they refrained from carrying it out.
Then with the security agent stating: "You can be sure I will search him to the skin and arrest him", they turned the car around and took me to militia headquarters where they again demanded that I submit to a search. When I replied that 1 would submit only after they produced tne necessary document, one man dressed in civilian clothers ordered the suitcase taken from me and searched to see what it contained, which they did by force.
During the search, two books were taken from me, one of which was returned, but the other, Krikščionis Pasaulyje (A Christian in the World) by Maceina, was not returned. I was arrested about 4:00 P.M. and released after 10:00 P.M. After the forcible search, the report (on a plain sheet of paper) was worded thus:
"I, First Lieutenant Zubrickas , on duty at the Raseiniai Rayon VRS militia, in the presence of witnesses: 1. Venckus, Zigmas, son of Pranas, residing in Aiškainiai in the Raseiniai Rayon,2. Shelkiniew, Nikolai, son of Michailovich, residing in Raseiniai, Taigos g. 29, drafted this report to record that, as ordered by the Raseiniai Rayon security committee chairman, the book Krikščionis Pasaulyje by Antanas Maceina, published in 1974 in the U.S., was taken from citizen
Jaugelis, Virgilijus, son of Vincas, residing in Kaunas, K. Markso prosp. No. 40., apt. 1." The signature of the report's author does not appear at the end of the report.
I demand that this incident be investigated and the guilty parties punished. I also demand the return of the book Krikšeionis Pasaulyje.
Kaunas, 6/24/1976 V. Jaugelis
Two months later, V. Jaugelis still had not received any reply from the State Prosecutor's Office. The facts speak for themselves: Rayon and city militia and security officials can act as arbitrarily as they please, because they are shielded by the State Prosecutor's Office.
On May 25, 1976, the Rev. Bernardas Baliukonis, Chancellor of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis, was buried on May 25, 1976 in the Petrašiūnai Cemetery. The funeral services for the deceased were attended by all diocesan administrators, and the Bishops of Kaunas and Panevėžys. Just before the services, Seminary Rector Rev. V. Butkus brought in Religious Affairs Commissioner K. Tumėnas and seated him in the monsignors' section. Older priests remember that during the years of independence not even the President of the Republic sat in this section. The faithful feel that priests should respect their houses of worship and a chair for uninvited atheists should be placed in an inconspicuous spot in order that they not interfere with prayer.
The Motor Vehicle Department directed traffic and allowed cars accompanying the casket to pass without delay. Tumėnas walked through the cemetery in procession with the bishops. Even the luncheon for priests and bishops could not be held without him. The entire funeral was arranged in such a way that it spoke without words—whoever is with the atheists has everything, dignitaries, traffic control and the government's favor. Let us compare this funeral to that of the Rev. Z. Neciunskas. Those who go to so-called Berlin Peace Conferences are accorded one kind of burial, and those who are sent to Mordovia another kind.
On May 28, 1976 the Kaunas Seminary ended its scholastic year.
The Seminary Rector, Dr. V. Butkus, addressed the seminarians in the dining hall, advising them to avoid during their vacation the friendship of reactionary priests (the labels "reactionary" and šisnarverbas) are coined by security agents and attached to more active priests). After a brief introduction, the Rector led Tumėnas into the seminarians' dining hall. The commissioner reiterated the rector's thoughts and ordered the seminarians to shun two priests in particular: Juozas Zdebskis and Alfonsas Svarinskas. According to the commissioner, these priests have suffered much and therefore they detest the Soviet government.
Priests are wondering by what right the seminary rector brough the commissioner into the seminarians' dining hall and allowed him to abuse priests faithful to the Church?
When a group of priests was leaving for the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, it was seen off at the Vilnius Airport by the Religious Affairs Commissioner. People noted with disgust how some of the priests made their farewells by kissing K. Tumėnas, who is a Trojan Horse being used to destroy the Church in Lithuania.
The former commissioner, J. Rugienis, used to be vulgar; he used to berate priests loudly and humiliate them. Because such behavior by the commissioner did not produce the desired results, the government replaced the former security agent with a polite and soft-spoken political officer. Tumėnas tries to be tactful, constantly stressing that he is a historian and the duties of commissioner were pressed upon him. He sometimes tries to allegedly help priests, but complains that he is powerless. Tumėnas gladly visits rectories gathering information the government needs.
It is time for certain priests to understand that friendship with the Religious Affairs Commissioner outrages the faithful, brings harm to the Church and allows atheists to divide priests.
The faithful are telling with sorrow of the hospitals of Vilnius: A believer dies, but the radio speaker above the bed continues to play popular music.
Priests usually visit the sick as ordinary visitors, they hear confessions in secret and give Communion.
At the beginning of August 1976, crowds of people streamed toward Šiluva to celebrate the feast of the Virgin Mary's Birth, during which devotions are held an entire week from the 8th to the 15th. There was an especially large number of people on the 11th and 12th. The town was overflowing with motor vehicle inspectors, militiamen and auxiliary police. Auxiliary police tried to catch religioius article vendors, even searching private homes where they suspected religious articles were kept. Women sold rosaries at the church door, but even here the brazen security agents tried to arrest them. On August 8th, one priest drove from the church three auxiliary police who were chasing religious article vendors.
The militia chased photographers who attempted to photograph or film the praying crowds of people, and took them to the Raseiniai Rayon security police chief who had set up headquarters near the Šiluva church. The security agents removed film from cameras and exposed it. After removing a film, one official taunted the owner by saying that he already had a boxful of such film. Officials would not allow photographers to film the praying people and suggested they film people at the song festival, or come to Šiluva after the recollections and take their pictures then.
The Rev. Antanas Lukošaitis was among the persons detained. He was also advised to photograph song festival participants. The priest explained that he was a Catholic priest and more interested in photographing people praying. The Raseiniai security police chief asked Father Lukošaitis why he had come here, demanded to see his papers, copied information from them and said, "Everything will be looked into."
Soviet officials fear lest, after thirty years of atheist propaganda, the world would see crowds gathered to pray and, swarming among them, militiamen and security agents, and especially lest the action of security agents and militiamen trying to catch religious article vendors be recorded on film.
To: The Lithuanian SSR Religious Affairs Commissioner of the
USSR Council of Ministers Copy to: The Telšiai Diocesan Chancery A statement from: Rev. Bernardas Talaišis, son of Jonas,residing in Kaltinėnai, Šilalė Rayon
The Kretinga Rayon newspaper, Švyturys (Reacon), printed on page 3 of its January 15, 1976 issue, news about the rayon atheist convention. The article "Convention Participants Speak Out" contains remarks by Bronius Mažonis, Principal of the Darbėnai Middle School.
"Why are the numbers of priests not decreasing?
"Bernardas Talaišis, the pastor of Laukuva, is a good friend of mine. He is an atheist. Why doesn't he leave the priesthood? He claims he lacks the willpower. And what about money? He has no complaints. So he plays the hypocrite."
The very question, "Why are the numbers of priests not diminishing?" is erroneous. Your office must know precisely how much, at least over the past then years, the number of priests have decreased in Lithuania and also that Father Talaišis has been the pastor of Kaltinėnai, and not ot Laukuva, lor the past nine years.
I must admit that I am not a bad friend, for I have never abused this title and respect all school chums as well as other friends, regardless of philosophy or belief. I was a classmate of Bronius Mažonis for a time and we participated in sports together. After becoming a priest, I met Mažonis only once, accidentally, around 1958 at a concert, where we did not discuss any philosophical questions. Since our school days, we have not paid one another a single visit nor have we exchanged a single letter. Then how can he possibly know anything in particular about my personal life? And now it appears that, at a loss for an effective argument for atheism, Mažonis remembered me, and, calling me "a good friend," proceeded to slander me, labeling me an atheist and deceitfully concluded that I play the hypocrite.
I officially state that I, the Rev. Bernardas Talaišis, have always believed and still believe in God, and have never intended to leave the priesthood. Hundreds of priests who know me, and thousands of believers are aware of this.
But as a Soviet Union citizen, I must state that a "friend" like Mažonis, who considers neither truth nor friendship important, is a disgrace; it would appear he does consider important any "argument" for atheism, even be it fabricated.
I wonder whether he thinks it important that, by presenting deceitful arguments, he debases himself as a man, a teacher, a school official, that he misleads all convention participants, the state and the party?
And is it important to the state? I believe it is very important.
And especially since the press has treated me not as a private individual, but as one performing the duties of a minister of cult.
I sincerely ask you, Mr. Commissioner, to see to it that Bronius Mažonis publicly retracts the lie which was spread so publicly.
Kaltinėnai, 1/28/1976 B. Talaišis
"The Chronicle of the C.C.L." has not heard anything about a retraction of this slander. The Soviet press can slander a priest, but never vindicate him.
In May, 1976 the Bishop of Panevėžys, Romualdas Krikščiūnas visited the parish of Salos.
In honor of their bishop, Salos parishioners erected a portal of honor near the entrance to the churchyard and decorated the church with wreaths. Salos state farm driver Šutas had to write the farm director an explanation for bringing branches from the woods. For this "offense", his vehicle was taken from him and he was assigned to repair tractors.
Even pensioners are terrorized in Salos. Farm officials made the following statement regarding Kazimieras Trumpickas: "He should be assigned grazing land far from home so he won't have time to go to church."
In 1937, the faithful of Kaišiadorys, in commemoration of the 550th anniversary of the conversion of Lithuania, erected in the cathedral yard a cross artistically decorated with folk ornaments.
Ten years ago, the Kaišiadorys Rayon government ordered the fence removed and the churchyard made smaller; the splendid Gothic style churchyard portal and part of the fence were demolished. Several years ago, an order was again issued to demolish another part of the fence, and move the cross elsewhere. The pastor moved the commemorative cross to the cathedral vestibule.
On August 18, 1976 unknown evildoers ripped the figure of Christ from this cross. This is not the first time that those who remove images of Christ have struck. In 1975, figures of Christ disappeared from many headstones in the Kaišiadorys cemetery.
In the summer of 1976, the Rev. L. Jagminas, Pastor of the parish of Šventybrastis, was helping a group of children prepare for first confession and Holy Communion. The atheists, of course, did not like this.
On August 19th, the pastor was summoned to the Tiškūnai District Executive Committee. District Chairman Smigelskas demanded that the pastor name the children, but he refused. The chairman then stated that he knew the names of some of the children, and drafted a report on the religious instruction of children.
On September 9th, Father Jagminas was summoned to see Kėdainiai Rayon Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Juškevičius, who, in the presence of the members of the Rayon Administrative Committee, read this committee's decision to warn Šventybrastis pastor, Father Jagminas, about the religious instruction of children. Vice-Chairman Juškevičius added that if a similar incident recurs in the future, the pastor will be prosecuted.
From 1959 to 1961, Father Jagminas taught a course in Sacred Scriptures at the Interdiocesan Seminary in Kaunas. He was removed from his position as seminary instructor at the demand of the Religious Affairs Commissioner. Rugienis accused Father Jagminas of spreading anti-Soviet sentiments in his lectures. Actually, the Religious Affairs Commissioner did not like the serious and conscientious instructor. Every so often, the Religious Affairs Commission "purges" the seminary of such instructors with the purpose ot training priests who are unprincipled and who are little imbued with the spirit of the Church.
For a long time the priests of this parish privately rented an apartment because the rectory had been converted into a dormitory, and the church custodial building is state farm property.
In May 1975, the pastor, Father A. Jokūbauskas, bought a house as a dwelling for the parish priest. When the bill of sale drawn up at the notary office, a certificate is required from the state farm in whose territory the house is located, stating that the purchaser is being granted a subdivision of 15 ares (approximately 6,500 sq. ft.) and permission to buy the house.
After purchasing the house, Father Jokūbauskas went to see Pociūnėliai state farm Chairman A. Stumbra to ask for the necessary certificate. The chairman did not issue the certificate on the pretext that it is forbidden by the Rayon government.
A half year later, the pastor again went to see the chairman on the same matter, but the reply was again negative.
On July 23, 1976 Father Jokūbauskas wrote a statement to the Radviliškis Rayon Executive Committee chairman asking him to urge the Pociūnėliai state farm chairman and council not to obstruct the drawing up of the purchase documents.
When he received no reply, the pastor wrote a second statement to the Rayon government on August 10th.
On August 13th, the pastor received a reply from Rayon Vice-Chairman A. Krikštanas, stating that drawing up purchase documents was within the jurisdiction of the state farm council.
On August 18th, Father Jokūbauskas again addressed the Pociūnėliai state farm council. When no reply was forthcoming, the pastor asked the state farm chairman on September 2nd when a council meeting would be held and when he would receive a reply. The chairman sternly replied that he would not issue any certificate and would not allow the house to be purchased. Moreover, he threatened angrily: "I will take care of you! Of course, not with my own hands!"
The pastor agreed that the chairman was capable of committing such a villainy. Inconcluding the conversation, the chairman ordered the pastor to keep silent about this meeting and promised to reply to the pastor's statement in writing.
On September 15th, Jokūbauskas received a reply that "The state farm intends to keep for itself the option to purchase the house being sold by Č. Mickevičius." When he worded this reply, the state farm chairman knew that Mickevičius' house had already been bought by the pastor, that Soviet laws do not forbid a priest to purchase a house and that priority is given the individual who lives in the house being sold.
Is this not a deliberate effort to harass a zealous priest so he might have less time and energy for direct pastoral work?
On July 10, 1975 Pociūnėliai Middle School Principal Taučius and Pociūnėliai State Farm Party Secretary (Mrs) Bžeskienė came to see the pastor, Father A. Jokūbauskas and recorded the names of the children who had come to the priest to be examined for first confession. Afterwards, these children were ridiculed and persecuted for an entire year in all kinds of ways, by their teachers in school. The children were afraid to attend church. Party Secretary (Mrs.) Bžeskienė and State Farm Chairman Stumbrą intimidated the children's parents by insisting they keep them away from church, threatened to deny them the use of grazing land and so on. On Sundays, the parents would take their children to other churches.
Pociūnėliai Middle School Principal Taučius is trying, with the assistance of atheist teachers, to educate the students as atheists. Seeing that Father Jokūbauskas has great influence on youth, they resort to all types of means to paralyze the priest's work or to have him transferred from Pociūnėliai.
On August 12, 1976, Father Jokūbauskas was summoned before the Religious Affairs Commission in Vilnius. An employee of this office Murnikov, reminded the pastor the pastor that he must observe Soviet laws.
On August 15, 1976, Kazimieras Vainauskas, a resident of Noreikai village in the Pociūnėliai parish, and his family attended the Feast of Assumption services at Krekenava, and did not report for work because it was Sunday. On Monday, when Vainauskas came to work he was berated and punished by group leader Šapkus and the "Tiesa" state farm authorities. They confiscated about two wagon-loads of straw which he had brought back from the communal barley field. This is a great loss for a state farm worker. He could have possibly recovered his property by suit, but everyone knows from experience that afterwards there would be no living at the state farm. "Tiesa" state farm chairman Meilus keeps the farm workers under tremendous pressure, especially those who attend church.
On July 2, 1976 Pociūnėliai Middle School Principal Taučius and teachers (Mrs) Buračienė, (Mrs) Sirtautienė and (Mrs) Rutkauskienė, having learned that the pastor, Father A. Jokūbauskas, was examining children for first confession, wanted to enter the church, take down the names of the children and later draw them away from the church through intimidation and persuasion. Father Jokūbauskas stood at the church door and would not allow the teachers to enter the church. Teacher Buračienė took this opportunity to lie that she wished to see the church at this time, entered, counted about 30 children, wrote down the names of those she knew and left. Father Jokūbauskas demanded that the principal show her permit to terrorize the children. Teacher Sirtautienė replied that the Party Secretary had telephoned, from the Rayon and ordered them to investigate the priests's work with the children.
Rev. Alfonsas Svarinskas the Pastor of Vidukle parish
It later became clear that the teachers went on their own initiative to "take care" of the children and the pastor.
On July 5th, Jokūbauskas was "educated" by the Skėmiai District Chairman, Pociūnėliai Party Secretary (Mrs; Bžeškienė and the teacher, (Mrs) Sirtautienė. In their opinion, the priest did not have the right to bar the teachers from church not to examine children in groups. The pastor calmly explained that it was his duty to protect the right of believers to the freedom of conscience, and therefore he had barred the teachers.
Teacher (Mrs) Buračienė, assisted by the principal, summoned the parents of the children seen in church and demanded written explanations, whether they themselves allow their children to attend church or the pastor orders them to do so. The parents wrote that they personally prepare their children for confession and then take them to the pastor to check their instruction.
Later, Teacher (Mrs) Buračienė went from village to village intimidating parents and demanding written explanations from both parents and children.
On July 19th, Father Jokūbauskas was summoned to the Rayon to see Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Krikštanas. The vice-chairman and party secretary (Mrs) Januševičienė explained, on the basis of the complaints filed by the teachers, that teachers have the right to investigate the priest's work with children, that the priest may examine a child brought by either a father or mother, but not alone. Vice-Chairman Krikštanas berated the priest on his sermons and funerals because he allegedly does not observe the rules they have set down: He buries some and not others. The vice-chairman pointed to art. 143 of the criminal code and demanded obedience.
The pastor did not consent to the demands of the vice-chairman and secretary and asserted that he had not violated any laws and would continue to observe them in the future but would not carry out the arbitrary demands of the vice-chairman because they are contrary to the Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Helsinki agreements.
When he returned from the Rayon, Father Jokūbauskas related to the faithful, at the end of his sermon at a funeral, the teachers' attempt to enter the church, the complaint lodged against him and vice-chairman Krikštanas' demands. He reminded the parents of their rights and duty to raise their children according to their beliefs and urged them conscientiously to prepare their children for first confession. The pastor explained that the teachers do not have the right to persecute children for attending church.
The faithful rejoice at their pastor's zeal and courage, but many fear that the priest might seriously suffer for his courage.
On May 27, 1976, atheists carted away an entire truckload of statues, pictures and crosses from the Kretinga cemetery chapel. When asked what they intended to do with these statues and crosses, they replied that a museum of atheism is being set up at the former Franciscan Monastery, and these exhibits will be displayed there.
The Kretinga cemetery is also a sorry sight: broken crosses and shattered figures of Christ.
In July 1976, the Telšiai militia detained Kretinga resident
(Mrs) Šauklienė for taking a church banner and crosses purchased with the funds of believers to the Plikiai church. (Mrs) Šauklienė spent two days at the militia. She was interrogated, intimidated and threatened with prosecution. The banner was confiscated.
A statue of the Virgin Mary stood for many years in the Village of Skuigė. When the statue deteriorated, the residents erected a beautiful stone cross in its place. One night, the people noticed Žemaitkiemis State Farm Vice-Chairman Pijus Danilevičius striking the cross. The men chased the vandal away, but several days later the cross was stolen (1975).
On June 16, 1976, just before services, the Pagėgiai church sacristy was forcibly entered by Pagėgiai Town Chairwoman (Mrs) R. Dzedulionienė and two unknown individuals. Noticing a boy dressed in altar boy robes, they began to interrogate him: Who was he, where was he from and the like. They then ordered him, "Take off the altar boy robes and leave!"
On Sunday, the Pastor of Pagėgiai, Father A. Baškys, explained Soviet laws to the faithful in church, saying that no one may be persecuted for his faith. And once again, as they did before, children are serving at Holy Mass.
This year, the custodian of the Rūkai cemetery, a 73-year-old woman, was preparing a group of children for First Communion. Each year she has been preparing the children well for the occasion.
On June 18, 1976, she was assailed by a committee from the Rayon. They interrogated her, the parents and children.
This year government officials were content with merely scolding the "offenders" who instruct children in the truths of the faith.
On June 10, 1975 the Rev. A. Petrauskas, pastor of the church in Raguva, was in the church checking the religious instruction of children preparing for first confession. Raguva District Chairwoman (Mrs) Buinauskienė, accompanied by an unknown woman, entered the church at that time and asked the pastor to step outside. Raguva Middle School Principal Nerečionis was waiting near the churchyard gate. He berated the pastor for not obeying the law and instructing children. The officials drafted a report stating that the pastor was instructing children.
On the basis of this report the Panevėžys Rayon administrative committee, composed of Chairman Indriūnas, Secretary Morozovą and Members Skorochodov, Kryževičius and (Miss) Tifovaitė, imposed a 30-ruble fine on the Raguva pastor on July 5, 1975.
"Well, pastor, will this information reach the Chronicle?" asked the officials.
"I cannot answer this question, because I have told many people of this incident," repied the pastor. "If the Chronicle does write about this incident, you will not be able to deny that it is reporting the facts accurately, or say that it is slandering the Soviet system."
Jurbarkas. The vandalized statue of the Good Shepherd
In the summer of 1976, the graves of four priests were desecrated in the Jurbarkas churchyard: Fences were knocked down,
Head broken from the statue of the Good Shepherd by vandals in Jurbarkas, 1976
flowers were trampled, cement blocks were scattered throughout the churchyard. The right hand and the head of the beautiful statue of the Good Shepherd were broken off.
On June 29, 1976, three militiamen set upon religious article vendors near the Klaipėda church. The women fled, but the militiamen confiscated all the candles, rosaries and missals.
Klaipėda residents ask: "Where can the faithful buy rosaries and missals?" Each year hundreds of children prepare for first confession in the huge Klaipėda parish. What should they use to pray? Why aren't militiamen as zealous when hoodlums throw rocks at church windows, even during services?
East Prussia, which lost its local inhabitants when they fled the Red Army, were driven out or died from starvation, has been annexed to the Russian Federated Republic. Abandoned fields, overgrown with bushes and grass, attest to the fact that there is no owner's touch here. Most of the inhabitants are Russian, but there are quite a few Lithuanians, Poles and other nationalities.
Neither in Kaliningrad (formerly Karaliaučius, Koenigsberg) nor other large towns of the area, for instance, in Chernyak-hovsk (Isrute-Instengurb), is there a single active Catholic or Orthodox church. One Kaliningrad church which had been damaged during the war was demolished this summer.
In 1975, at the request of the faithful, the pastor of the Vištytis parish, the Rev. Kazys Montvila, began at the request of the faithful to minister to the sick, hear Easter confessions and baptize in the town of Chemyakhovsk.
Father Montvila baptized several Catholic and Orthodox dren in the tiny apartment of (Miss) Jane Morkūnaitė. The Birštonas family on Kirov Street offered the use of a larger room for prayer. Father Montvila occasionally said Mass there and gave sermons that even Russians came to hear. He heard confessions there and distributed Holy Communion. Those who had not yet received First Communion were given prayerbooks and all learned prayers and catechism.
After making several visits to Chemyakhovsk, Father Montvila began to be followed. Sometimes the surveillance lost its quarry, but at others, it was necessary to skip services. On Kirov street, the Russians began to say that the priest would be arrested, but he was not very concerned.
On February 20, 1975, several cars came to a stop in front of the Birštonas family home, at 10 Kirov street. Only (Mrs) Birštonienė was at home. The security agents asserted that the Birštonas family had ties with America; therefore, they were going to search the apartment. Some searched the barn, turning over hay, straw, firewood, looking into every box; others searched the rooms, the kitchen and the storeroom. When they spied luggage in the closet, the searchers were overjoyed: "We will find the material we need here, and maybe even a transmitter!" In the luggage they found neither a transmitter nor anti-Soviet material, but only church articles: candles, missals, surplice, a Bible and the like. The security agents threw everything on the floor. They turned every page, scrutinized every little thing over and over. The religious woman was distressed at the disrespectful way holy vessels and books were thrown to the floor
(Mrs.) Birštonienė was questioned about why the priest had turned their home into a church, why he performed baptisms, heard confessions and distributed catechisms. The agents gave orders that the priest no longer come here and no longer mislead people. people.
After the search was completed, thev drafted a report. This was done to trighten everyone thoroughly so that the thought would not enter their minds in the future to invite the priest to their home. Believers who wish to pray sometimes have to travel over 100 kilometers (60 miles) to Pagėniai or Kybartai.