Lithuanian Catholic students are very grateful to Vatican Radio for publicizing the resistance of school children to a loss of religious faith under duress.
It would be good if Vatican Radio were to prepare a 10-minute program devoted to school-children for its Saturday broadcasts. Our children need much help to grow into decent individuals. At present, they hear only lies about the faith and the Fatherland.
One teacher from Samogitia writes: "Our school has some truly amazing children. One eighth-grade girl ended her composition with the words: "Let us therefore choose courage, let us discipline our will and, when the need arises, we will stand to defend our Lithuania!
A fifth-grade student named Fabijonavičiutė has been terrorized for her faith over the past several years at the Fifth Middle School in Telšiai. Here are some instances:
In October 1977, the school's assistant principal warned the student not to attend church. That same year, the assistant principal again intimidated the girl on several occasions, demanding when she would mend her ways and stop going to church.
On January 18, 1979 homeroom teacher (Mrs.) Butkevičienė stated during a class meeting that only Pioneers can set a good example, but believers will never be a good example to others.
During a mathematics class, teacher Gudienė ridiculed Fabionavičiutė in front of the entire class: "There are no more convents and there will never be any, so where will you, a believer, find shelter?"
Finally, at the end of January 1979 the parents of Fabio-navičiutė were warned at work. They were threatened that the security police would take c?re of them if they did not set their daughter straight.
The strength of Lithuanian children is truly amazing: they withstand attacks by an entire army of teachers and even interrogations by the security police.
In October 1978, Principal A. Gužaitytė of the Twelfth Middle School in Šiauliai and homeroom teacher I. Savickienė bombarded 10th-grader Zigmas Lemkis with questions on why he attends church and serves at Holy Mass.
"What do you plan to do in the future? You know that students cannot attend church! A dark future is in store for you," the principal said in an outburst.
Lemkys held his ground:
'I've been going to church and will continue going."
The principal then summoned the student's mother Birutė Lemkienė and lectured her on the fact that Zigmas' soul has been damaged, he is in danger of being expelled from school and faces other various unpleasantness. The mother left the principal's office in tears.
As if that were not enough, Šiauliai KGB officials pay visits to the principal's office at the Twelfth Middle School and summon Zigmas Lemkys for "re-education."
All throughout Lithuania, the KGB is making considerable effort to recruit as spies school children who serve at Holy Mass.
In this way, the security police hopes to introduce more of its agents into the Theological Seminary.
Pagiriai (R a y o n of Kėdainiai)
On December 5, 1978, the progress of students during the first trimester was under discussion at the Pagiriai Middle School and several reprimands were given to 6th-grader Romas Šapnagis and 7th-grader Julius Širkas, while Vidmantas Zupkas even had a reprimand recorded on his report card because ... he serves at Mass. The students justified their actions under freedom of religion. Seventh-grade homeroom teacher (Mrs) Laima Duliaus-kienė assured them that freedom of religion exists only in other countries, but there is no such freedom in the Soviet Union.
Siesikai (R a y o n of Ukmergė)
On November 28, 1978, Principal Latvys of the Siesikai Middle School terrorized several students who serve at Mass: Raimondas Tiškus, Antanas Maželis ir Egidijus Tamauskas. The children were interrogated, scolded and intimidated in the teachers room. They were forbidden to serve at Holy Mass in the future.
At the beginning of November 1978, (Mrs) Razvanavičienė, the leader of the Pioneers at the Kapsukas Sixth Middle School, tied to force Vilija Žitkutė and Jūratė Petruškevičiūtė to join the Pioneers. The girls refused. Then the Pioneer leader asked if they believe in God. The girls admitted that they do.
"And do you go to church?"
"Do you have prayerbooks?" the leader interrogated further. "We do," the schoolgirls replied boldly.
Then (Mrs) Razvanavičienė stood the girls in front of the class and began to educate the students: "If not for Lenin," the teacher exuded, "they would not have attended school, but would have herded geese; and now they are afraid to wear the pin! These are the nation's future enemies!" The teacher flung words of utter contempt at the believing girls.
Homeroom Teacher (Mrs.) Razvanavičienė is an example of how catering to the occupant grows into brutal fanaticism. The nation's enemy is not one who refuses to wear the occupant's pin, but one who wants to impose it by force.
Aukštadvaris (R a y o n of Trakai)
Recollections were conducted at the Aukštadvaris church on October 15, 1978. Besides adults, the following students also attended the services: 8th-grader Juozas Kaliukevičius, 8th-grader Lilijana Špiliauskaitė, 7th-grader Talvydas Špiliauskas and others. The next day, the school's Communist Party secretary and assistant principal Antanas Verseckas scolded Kaliukevičius in class, threatening to give him a lower deportment grade if he continued to attend church. These school children have already been given lower deportment grades during the past academic year for attending church. Teacher Brunzienė summoned Lilijana Špiliaus-kaitė's mother and threatened to give her daughter poor deportment grades because of her faith. She also severely warned the mother to keep Lilijana from ever again going to the Aukštadvaris church.
The teachers forcibly enrolled Lilijana Špiliauskaitė into the atheist club without her parents' consent. Only after the parents protested strenously was the student allowed to withdraw from the club. The members of the atheist club are assigned the task of going to church and spying on the students attending and taking notes on the priest's sermons.
Teacher Astrauskienė stated during an atheist program that all priests and believers are behind the times and stupid. The teacher ridiculed prayer. She also ordered believing students to do the same.
(Mrs) Dandienė, the custodian of the Aukštadvaris school, once told the school's assistant principal, Teacher Verseckas, that the Constitution forbids such persecution of students. Teacher Verseckas jeered: "If we were to give the students freedom, they would all go to church!"