The pastor of Kalviai, the Rev. Zigmas Neciunskas, well known throughout Lithuania for his goodness and noble life, died on June 21, 1976. With great sorrow, the decedent's friends and parishioners gathered to attend the beloved priest's funeral. And who had not been touched by the good heart of Father Zigmas? The post-war partisans had; the faithful of several parishes had; long-term labor camp friends had and his brother priests had. However, there were people who detested Rev. Neciunskas. The atheists of Kaišiadorys planned to disrupt the funeral. On the eve of the funeral, the Kalviai district chairman issued an order that the priests not be allowed to park their cars near the church and organize demonstrations. The funeral services on June 23rd were conducted in Kalviai by Kaišiadorys Diocesan Administrator Msgr. J. Andrikonis. Everything had been arranged so the funeral would take place as unobtrusively as possible. Rev. Valatka gave a bland sermon without even once mentioning the late Father Zigmas personally. The priests and the faithful were offended and insulted: how far things had gone in catering to the atheists and the government! The Kaišiadorys curia did not inform Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius of Rev. Neciunskas' death, though the bishop respected the decedent and the decedent sincerely loved the bishop.
The relatives of Rev. Z. Neciunskas decided to bury him in his native town: in the Santaika Cemetery. When the casket was carried into the churchyard, it became clear that there were no trucks to take the casket and the people to Dzūkija (southern part of Lithuania). It seems that the Kaišiadorys Rayon executive committee vice-chairman, with the assistance of the Kaišiadorys motor vehicle department, diverted the vehicles to Kaišiadorys, explaining that state farm vehicles should not be used for a priest's funeral, although he knew quite well that the Rayon does not have special vehicles for funerals and everyone uses government transportation. The situation was saved by Rev. Alfonsas Svarinskas, Father Zigmas' labor camp friend. The casket of Rev. Neciunskas was placed in the trunk of Father Svarinskas' "Zhiguli" car, it was tied with ropes because part of it dangled in the air, wreaths were placed on the casket and, accompanied by a caravan of passenger cars, it left for Santaika. The people asked that the cars drive slowly, and, for over a kilometer, the tired and weeping people followed their pastor to his place of eternal rest. Unfortunately, because of the arbitrary actions of the Kaišiadorys atheists, most could not go to Santaika.
A huge crowd of believers was waiting with flowers at the Jieznas crossroads. After a brief stop, the cars again moved on toward Santaika. People wept and strewed flowers on the road.
In Santaika, the funeral procession was met by a crowd of people and the priests of Suvalkija. Following the funeral rites, the new grave of a noble Lithuanian and zealous priest sprouted up in the sandy soil of Dzūkija. A wave of outrage at the behavior of the atheists of Kaišiadorys spread not only through Dzūkija, but throughout Lithuania. State farm workers and academic circles all unanimously repeated: "How could the atheists have done such a thing? What is the Soviet Constitution worth if people behave this way?"
The Commissioner for Religious Affairs summoned Rev. Alfonsas Svarinskas to his office on August 20fh and attempted to lay the blame for this funeral on the priests who had made the arrangements for the burial.
The grave of Rev. Zigmas Neciunskas will teach the young generation about love of God and country.
Why did Soviet government officials detest Rev. Z. Neciunskas? The Rev. Zigmas Neciunskas, the pastor of Nedzingė, was arrested on December 4, 1940. A year later he was sentenced to ten years in labor camp and five years suspension of citizen rights. He was held in Lukiškis until August 3rd, and was later taken to distant Karelia, where he did exhausting forest work. There, he found 500 Lithuanian men and 300 single Lithuanian women. After a year, he was transferred to Mordovia where he worked in a case factory and was disabled for three months with heart failure. Although himself of poor health and not suited for heavy physical labor, he spent 8 years healing and nursing others as camp medic. After completing his full sentence, he was released at the end of 1955, and first of all paid a visit to his bishop, Teofilis Matulionis in a nursing home in Mordovia.
The tender heart of Father Zigmas grew restless in Lithuania: So many of his countrymen still lived in the Siberian vastness! After spending several months in his native land, Father Zigmas voluntarily went to his countrymen in Maklakov, in the District of Krasnoyarsk. There, he served the faithful for two and a half years within a 300-500 kilometer radius. When he later returned to Lithuania he was denied the right to work as a priest.
While still in Siberia, he visited in March, 1957, the chapel which Father J. Gustas erected in Krasnoyarsk. Father Gustas soon died in Krasnoyarsk and Father Šeškevičius buried him there.
Father Neciunskas was a man who had developed to the utmost all the best qualities of a native son of Dzūkija. He was enchanted by every individual he met, because he was capable of immediately noting some good trait. Endowed with a lively and warm heart, he deeply empathized with the cares, misfortunes and hardships of others. He know how to console one, encourage one and cheer one. Following the Redeemer's example, he tirst helped and consoled one, and later ministered to one's spiritual needs.
The deceased was a zealous and conscientious priest, he respected Church officials, was on very good terms with his brother priests and had deep bonds of friendship with many; thus, there were close to a hundred priests at his funeral.
We reprint below a complaint Father Zigmas Neciunskas had drafted to the Prosecutor of the Lithuanians SSR, but which he had not yet mailed, on the advice of friends.