On May 22, 1977, the following fifth-year seminarians were ordained priests:
1. Jonas Alesius
2. Ričardas Černiauskas
3. Česlovas Degutis
4. Vytautas Kadys
5. Jonas Kauneckas
6. Stanislovas Linda
7. Marijonas Savickas
8. Vincas Stankevičius
9. Petras Tarvydas
The Village of Levaniškiai (R a y o n of Anykščiai)
The newly ordained priest, Marijonas Savickas, on the occasion of his first Mass at his birthplace, wanted to pitch a tent temporarily on the banks of the Nevėžys River near his homestead, but the local state farm chairman forbade him. Father Savickas then addressed Religious Affairs Commissioner K.(azimieras) Tumėnas. Shortly, the state farm chairman granted him permission to pitch his tent, adding: "If not for foreign countries, we would hang all of you." It seems that Tumėnas explained to the state farm chairman that interference with the first Mass ceremonies might cause an uproar which would be heard abroad.
Newly ordained priest Jonas Alesius was constantly harassed by the Security police during the summer of 1976, seeking to recruit him as a KGB agent. Security agents came to his home by car, waylaid him on the road, and, after taking him to Lazdijai, terrorized him.
Many seminarians are harrassed in similar ways.
Easter services at St. Teresa's Church in Vilnius are yearly held in an atmosphere of disquiet. The solemnity of the services is disrupted by youths otherwise disposed.
In 1977, on one occasion many young people streamed into the church and prevented people from praying. Most of them were tipsy and spoke Russian. During the procession they ridiculed the Blessed Sacrament with various forms of mimicry, insulted the girls strewing flowers, buzzed back and forth from the altar to the main door during the Holy Mass, causing a disturbance and insulting the praying people in various languages, and deliberately formed a bottleneck at the door (in the seven minutes prior to the Consecration,) . . . One churchgoer counted about 50 of these characters filing down the middle of the church.
The entire street from the State Philharminic to Aušros Vartai (Gate of Dawn) was congested with such rowdy and drunk youths. Although four militia vehicles were on the scene, the militiamen did not use strict measures.
This contrarily disposed "cultivated" youth is the result of atheist upbringing. Earlier, Security agents used to be sent against the faithful, now the Security police sends vocation school students— amoral youth—to religious services.
(Miss) Aldona Kezytė worked in education from 1949 to 1975 She studied at the LSSR Conservatory from which she graduated in 1956. That same year she was assigned to set up the Biržai children's music school. She worked as principal and teacher at that school. In 1958 she was a member of the Biržai City Workers' Council of Deputies. In 1959, she was assigned a position as instructor at a vocational school by the Vilnius Cultural-Educational Department. At the same time, she worked as a teacher at the present B. Dvarionas Children's Music School. From 1960 to 1975 she held top positions at that school. (Miss) Kezytė was offered the position of principal and art department head, but she turned down the offer. She worked at the B. Dvarionas Children's Music School in the choral department as head of the required piano classes (until 1975).
It would thus seem that the Education and Culture Ministries showed unusual confidence in Miss Kezytė.
However, not all agencies were pleased with Miss Kezytė. About eight years ago the KGB became interested in her. Annoying surveillance began at the school. Teacher Darvydas diligently performed the task assigned him by the Security police and seized on every word that Teacher Kezytė uttered. Teachers J. Andrie-jevas, Štarkienė, (Miss) Abromaitytė, K. Kalibatas and Marina Levshina were not far behind.
One of the reasons of the Security police became interested in Miss Kezytė was her faith. It is possible that the Security police suspected the teacher of being involved in underground activity.
For a long time Miss Kezytė was harassed by her neighbors, the Choroshkhovs, who regularly broke nnto her apartment and rummaged through her things. Because the teacher remained silent, the Security representatives became even bolder and began to harass her constantly. Upon returning from work, she would find her things in disarray, the table all scratched, her thermos bottle full of spittle and the like, although she always locked the apartment door before leaving. No longer able to bear this intimidation and aware that it was useless to complain, Miss Kezytė took the opportunity to leave her apartment at R.(audonosios) Armijos prosp. 25-79 and moved to the Karoliniškiai Rayon at Sudervės g. 20-130. It seemed that things would be more peaceful at the new location because the immoral Russian neighbors had been left far behind. Unfortunately, similar incidents soon began in this apartment also. While she was at work, someone would enter her apartment, search it and very often destroy something. Miss Kezytė began receiving all her letters. Once she found three opened envelopes in her storage closet, but did not find any letters in them.
What does all this mean?
On April 10, 1977 (Holy Saturday), Religious Affairs Commissioner K.(azimieras) Tumėnas came to Klaipėda. The group of faithful who met the Commissioner at the church door asked him:
"Mr. Commissioner, we the believers of Klaipėda ask you to intercede with Soviet authorities to return to us the church which we ourselves built."
"And who are you?" Tumėnas asked the woman who had spoken.
"A representative of the believers of Klaipėda. There is a whole group of us here." explained the woman to the Commissioner. "We do not fit in our small church. Come this evening or Easter morning, Mr. Commissioner. You will see for yourself and be convinced. People faint in the overcrowded church — is that normal?"
"I will come. We will see how many fainting or dying people are carried out," mocked Tumėnas.
"Give us back our church and we will build you a philharmonic hall!" suggested one of the faithful.
"And the new church spire will rise in no time to replace the one torn down. We will rebuild it with our own hands," added another.
"We'll see, we'll see," Tumėnas demurred.
"What concrete promises can you make us? Can we address you in writing?" The people would not give in.
"You can do it in writing," replied the visitor. "You have your church committee, let them write, not you."
"Doesn't the people's voice mean anything?" protested the people. "We did not elect any committee and know nothing about it," a voice was heard saying.
Without saying anything clear to the faithful, the commissioner left. Holy Saturday evening and Easter morning the people noticed Tumėnas in church. He was personally able to ascertain the situation of the Klaipėda faithful. Although the weather was very unpleasant, crowds of believers streamed into the church, the yard and the street. Throughout the night before Easter youths and school children kept vigil and sang.
A parish retreat was held at the Church of St. George in Šiauliai from March 25 to 27, 1977. Following High Mass on March 26, after the pastor had left and the number of faithful had diminished in church, emboldened school-children gathered to adore the Blessed Sacrament. But their joy was short-lived. The pastor, Father Jakubonis intruded suddenly on the adorators and seeing the school children, began to scold them: "I don't want to see a single child at the altar—you can pray in church or behind the altar rail! I want to finish building this church, and children adoring the Blessed Sacrament can upset my plans and cause unpleasantness."
Father Jokubonis even ordered the mothers who had brought their children for the adoration to leave. One woman asked as she was leaving, "Father, why are children in other places allowed to adore, but not in Šiauliai? Will you be arrested because of this? If we fear unpleasantness, what will happen to our nation? Why will we need churches if there will be no people in them? If you drive children from the church, then later there will be no religious families, and still later no devout old people."
Atheists are fully aware that a tree must be bent while still young. Thus, the Church of SS Peter and Paul in Šiauliai was granted permission to ring its bells on the condition that Father D. Mažanavičius not allow children at the altar. The condition was accepted. On Easter morning the church bells of SS Peter and Paul rang out after twenty years of silence, but the living bells—children's voices at the altar—were silent. What a painful concession! But it is only a concession?!
A former teacher, Reserve Officer Zenonas Margevičius returned to Lithuania after ten years imprisonment and wanted to find a job. As a former teacher he was told by Security agents, "If you work for us, we will give you a good school; you will be able to work and live in peace."
The teacher refused to work for the Security police, and therefore had to work a strenuous physical job in construction until he retired.
During the night of April 12, 1977, the church in Mažeikiai was vandalized. The thieves entered through a window, vandalized the tabernacle, scattered the Blessed Sacrament, and stole three chalices and two communion cups.
To: The publishers of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania
Would you please answer the following question: For what purpose do government officials film and photograph in churches ?
We have learned that at the end of April of this year government officials, in the presence of K.(azimieras) Tumėnas, made a film inside the Telšiai cathedral. High clergymen were at the pulpit and altar during the filming. Is this not a concession to atheist goals? Will not such films serve atheist goals, their propaganda? After all, a church is not a theater and priests are not actors. How can all this be reconciled? We feel it is disrespectful to the Blessed Sacrament kept in the church, before which we believers kneel, while the film crew behaves disrespectfully.
Reply: There is no doubt that the films are made for propaganda purposes. His Excellency Bishop L.(iudas) Povilonis acted very honorably when he refused to be filmed during Easter services.
To: The Rev. Dubnikas, Juozas, son of Martynas, of the Nemunėlio Radviliškio Catholic Church
Based on the decision of the LSSR Council of Ministers, Art. 96 of the LSSR Constitution, LSSR Supreme Soviet Presidium Decree No. 181 dated August 10, 1976, and the January 23, 1918 decree "On the Separation of State and School from the Church", the N. Radviliškis Worker's Council of Deputies calls the following to your attention: according to information before the N. Radviliškis District Worker's Council of Deputies and the N. Radviliškis Middle School, you have violated the above-mentioned official decrees by allowing minor children to serve at Mass and other rites.
Soviet laws governing religious cults state that a religious community is a local alliance of believer citizens, at least eighteen years of age, of one and the same cult, for the common fulfillment of religious needs. Therefore, under-age citizens, not being members of religious communities, cannot be organized to carry out religious rites: serving at the altar, strewing flowers, carrying cult articles in procession, singing in church choirs and the like.
All religious functions must be carried out by adult members of the religilus community.
The N. Radviliškis District Worker's Council of Deputies Executive Committee reserves the right to monitor how you carry out the applicable official decision regarding religious rites.
N. Radviliškis District Worker's Council of Deputies Executive Committee Chairman (signature and seal)
N. Radviliškis Middle School Principal (signature and seal)
N. Radviliškis Middle School foremost Party organization Secretary (signature)
Copy received: (Rev. Dubnikas' signature)
Reply to the N. Radviliškis Worker's Council of Deputies Executive Committee
In reply to the charges brought agains me by the N. Radviliškis Worker's Council of Deputies Executive Committee, I wish to state the following:
1.Art. 96 of the L.(ithuanian) SSR Constitution accords freedom of religion to all citizens, without distinction as to age or position and without setting any limits.
2.The said Soviet laws governing religious cults which limit freedom of religion up to the age of eighteen are clearly contrary to art. 96 of the Constitution, for under standards of common law, all laws which are contrary to the Constitution are invalid.
3.The Januarv 23, 1918 decree clearly speaks of "the separation of school from church" but not of the separation of students— people—from the church. A distinction must be made between the institution (school) and the students (individuals), whom the decree does not mention. It is improper to extend the law by interchanging terms, which is not provided by the law.
4.Art. 145 of the Criminal Code stipulates penalties for individuals who prevent citizens from performing religious rites. Thus, by interfering in strictly internal Church affairs with this writ, the Worker's Council of Deputies Executive Committee violates Soviet laws (art. 145 of the Criminal Code).
5.In view of the above, I conclude that the writ sent by the N. Radviliškis Worker's Council of Deputies Executive Committee, being contrary to the law and the Constitution, does not apply tome.
Rev. J. Dubnikas
I have sent a copy of this letter to the Bishop of Panevėžys.
Juozas Gražys returned from labor camp in April 1977 after serving his sentence. He was convicted for collaborating in the distribution of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania (see issue No. 13 of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania).
Security agents paid a visit to the relatives of Ona Pranckūnaitė, asking whether the prisoner had ever suffered from any nervous disorder. Plans are probably in the making to confine her to a psychiatric hospital.
In June the case of Vladas Lapienis was completed and the accused was allowed to review the case documents.
On May 15, 1977 a seminar for guides was held at the Kaunas tourist bureau regarding a tour to Eastern Aukštaitija, during which Rokiškis, Svėdasai and other towns were to be visited. In Svėdasai a tour was made of places associated with the life of the writer Vaižgantas. After the tour left the town, it was overtaken by a militiaman and a man dressed in civilian clothing who checked the itinerary. They then began to berate them for visiting the church (not during services!) as a group.
Let us commend the efficiency of the Security police!
Since when and in what code is it considered a crime to set foot in a church?
The daughter of ailing (Mrs) Elena Baltkojienė came from the village of Klusai at 11:00 P.M. on August 8, 1976 to summon the priest to the patient's bedside. The priest asked whether the invitation had been cleared by the hospital administration. The reply was no. The priest then asked that permission be secured from the hospital administration. An appeal was made to the doctor on call, (Mrs) Verbienė. She refused to allow the priest to see the patient because it was supposedly forbidden. Because no such prohibitions exist, the patient's relatives again went to see Doctor Verbienė. The doctor assured them that the patient would not die and did not allow the priest in. Elena Baltkojienė died shortly thereafter.
On October 26, 1976, the Rev. A. Jokūbauskas wrote the LSSR Prosecutor with the complaint that the Radviliškis Rayon executive committee administrative commission had unjustly imposed a 50 ruble fine on him for instructing children, and the Radviliškis Rayonpeople's court had upheld this unjust decision.
Radviliškis Rayon Prosecutor K. Mikšys replied on November 15, 1976 that Father Jokūbauskas had been fined justly.
The Rev. A. Jokūbauskas again wrote the LSSR Prosecutor on November 23, 1976, asking whether Prosecutor Mikšys had acted properly by accusing him of carrying out his direct duties.
The LSSR Prosecutor's Office charged the Rev. A. Jokūbauskas with supposedly assembling children and directing activities not related to the practice of cult rites.
On December 30, 1976 Father Jokūbauskas wrote the LSSR Prosecutor's Office: "I did not direct any children's activities unrelated to the practice of religious rites. Only activities relating to the practice of religious rites were conducted: On appointed days, children were questioned on whether their parents had properly taught them their prayers, on whether the catechism was properly explained to them; children were prepared for the reception of the sacraments, taught to consciously participate in cult services and serve at Holy Mass. Nothing unrelated to cult services was ever taught: no sports, dancing, photography, nor anything similar . . .
"Because children came with their parents' knowledge to the activities related to the practice of religious rites, and were taught nothing but prayers and the truths of the faith, the fine imposed by the administrative commission and the court is unjust. Under Soviet law, the principles of Lenin and international commitments, the private instruction of religion in church is permitted. A priest is not guilty of any wrongdoing for teaching children their prayers, for explaining the catechism in order that they might properly receive the sacraments and consciously participate in religious rites. It is the priest's direct duty for which he cannot be punished . . ."
The LSSR Prosecutor's Office again affirmed that Father Jokūbauskas had been justly fined for teaching children catechism.
The Rev. A. Jokūbauskas again sent two letters to the LSSR Prosecutor's Office in January 1977, without any results.
Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee Secretary Griškevičius made no reply to Rev. A. Jokūbauskas' complaints.
On February 3rd, the Kėdainiai Rayon court bailiff attached the possessions of Father Jokūbauskas in order to collect the fine by force.
Before Easter, Father Jokūbauskas was notified that the fine had been cancelled, on the pretext that the time limit for collecting it had expired.
In 1975 Rev. A. Jokūbauskas purchased a private house in Pociūnėliai from Česlovas Mickevičius, but state farm chairman Stumbrys interfered with the finalization of documents.
On October 30, 1976, Česlovas Mickevičius (Soviet Union Communist Party member) refunded to Father A. Jokūbauskas the money paid for the house, and stated that at the party's order he had sold the house to the Pociūnėliai state farm and apologized for not being in a position to do otherwise.
On November 2, 1976, Father Jokūbauskas was notified by State farm chairman J. Stumbrys to move within a week's time from the house, which the state farm had bought.
On December 4, 1976, the order was repeated.
After countless complaints, a plot of land for anew house was subdivided for the Rev. A. Jokūbauskas.
During a retreat at the Druskininkai church on April 15th of this year, someone broke the church windows with stones during the evening Mass.
In 1977, a book by J. Jermalavičius was published in Vilnius entitled "Atheist Upbringing in Soviet Lithuania" which contains a statement on page 110 that, on June 22, 1941, when the Nazis entered Merkinė, the pastor informed on organist J. Miškevičius to local degenerates and the organist had to stay in hiding for one and a half years.
In fact: 1. The Nazis entered Merkinė not on June 22nd, but somewhat later.
2. At the time, the pastor of Merkinė was the Rev. A. Juknevičius. He could not have informed on his organist because he was already dead on June 24th. He was arrested by Red Army soldiers while walking in the Kaišiadorys churchyard and taken to the woods outside town, where he was shot. Another priest was also arrested with him, but he survived because he was taken elsewhere.
3. The people of Merkinė do not recall an organist named J. Miškevičius.