To: The Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of
Kaunas and the Diocese of Vilkaviškis. A Petition from: The Priests of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis.
Lithuania's Ordinaries have proclaimed 1981 to be a Eucharistic Year in Lithuania. A half year has already passed, but there is very little indication that this year is truly Eucharistic. The desire of most priests and believers to attend the Lourdes Eucharistic Congress has received no response. Therefore, we strongly urge that a Eucharistic Congress be organized in Lithuania. Devotions in Šiluva on the feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary would be the ideal time, especially on September 12th and 13th.
July 5, 1981
N.B. The statement was signed by many priests of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis; however, no attempt was even made to organize the Congress, out of fear of antagonizing the Soviet government.
In 1981 the Soviet government did not permit the following voung men to study at the theological seminary:
On May 11, 1981, Remigijus Ivanauskas submitted an application to the Kaunas Theological Seminary. On May 18th, he was summoned to the Raseiniai Military Commissariat where he was surprised to find elderly drivers waiting to be taken to work in Kazakhstan. He was not a driver, then why was he summoned? The young man showed his summons to the officer standing at the door. He was told to wait. After some time, an unknown man approached the officer, they conversed and the officer ordered Remigijus to follow the stranger to the militia on the other side of the street. There he was questioned: where is your father, do you have a brother, a sister, what are your future plans? The man identified himself as a chekist. Remigijus understood that he was being interrogated because he had applied to the seminary . There was a flood of questions:
What prompted him to enter the Seminary? Does he know Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Father Vytautas Skiparis and other zealous priests?
After some time, the KGB chief came in and there was a flood of similar questions. The chief asked whether anyone had mentioned the underground seminary? After detaining the young man for two hours, they released him, ordering him to come to the KGB on June 22nd. This time the chekists began to recruit Ivanauskas' collaboration: once in the seminary, he was to report whether anyone was distributing underground literature, breaking the law, or the like. Remigijus protested:
"I would rather not enter the seminary than become an informer!"
After detaining the young man for three hours, they let him go and ordered him to return as soon as he received a reply from the seminary. After receiving a rejection from the seminary, Remigijus went back to the KGB where he was told:
"This year you blocked your own road, don't do it to others! If you help us, we'll help you. But if you don't, you won't see the seminary!"
"I would rather wait ten or fifteen years than become a Judas!" Remigijus Ivanauskas sternly rejected the vile offer.
To: His Excellency, Bishop Liudvikas Povilonis, President of the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference
We are concerned and disturbed by the difficult situation of the sole surviving seminary, in Kaunas. We are aware that, in the fall of last year seventeen candidates were denied admission to the Seminary. They were rejected not by the seminary authorities, but by the Religious Affairs Commissar. Fourth-year seminarian Aloyzas Volskis from the Diocese of Telšiai was expelled. He was expelled at the order of that same commissar, and not at the decision of the seminary administration. The civil authorities have treated the seminary's applicants and students in this fashion throughout the postwar years.
We read in the Soviet press, we hear on radio and television, and at times, we are told by lecturers that the Soviet government does not interfere in internal Church affairs. If that is so, why does the Soviet government determine who is to be admitted to the theological seminary, who is to be rejected, who is to be expelled?
We, believers, support the seminary with our donations. Our families provide the seminary with candidates. They are the finest flowers of our families. We cannot remain indifferent when the theological seminary's normal activities are hindered. Furthermore, the number of parishes without priests continues to grow. It would appear that the shortage of priests is not the result of a lack of vocations.
We therefore ask and dare demand, that you, our shepherd, do everything in your power that willing and suitable applicants be permitted to study at the theological seminary.
We, believers, will support you and the seminary in every way.
Pagramantis ... Varduva (Žem.
117 believers 167 believers 133 believers
Kalvarija) Šateikiai ... Plateliai ....
221 believers 140 believers 640 believers
Medingėnai... 360 believers
Tirkšliai ....... 353 believers
Skuodas ...... 423 believers
Ylakiai ........ 287 believers
Tauragė ..... 2,097 believers
Žygaičiai ..... 187 believers
Plungė ....... 1,490 believers
Alsėdžiai ...... 254 believers
Rietavas ...... 501 believers
Kuliai .......... 155 believers
Kontaučiai ... 83 believers
Žemalė ....... 158 believers
Mosėdis ...... 310 believers
November 1, 1981. Even before All Saints Day, Assistant Chairman Jankus of the Telšiai Rayon Executive Committee warned the Pastor, Father Juozapas Pačinskas, and Diocesan Administrator Father Antanas Vaičius that blessing tombstones on November 1st in the Telšiai cemetery and performing any religious rites is forbidden. If this ban is ignored, shrines would be torn down on the Hill of Virgins and the Knoll of Honor (folk art monuments protected by the state, where shrines have stood and crosses have been erected since time immemorial). Furthermore, only Father Pačinskas would be permitted to perform services in Viešvėnai. Although this godless demand was carried out — Father Pačinskas agreed to hold services in Viešvėnai — Telšiai motor vehicle Inspector Vaičys stopped the passenger car in which Father Pačinskas (and his assistants Fathers Vytautas Mikutavičius and Jonas Kauneckas) were riding to services in Viešvėnai. Despite Father Pačinskas' complaint that he did not have the time, that he was late, the car was searched with unusual thoroughness and care, even the trunk was inspected. The priests were forced to complete their journey on foot. The inspection was organized specially to delay the priests, for both before and after the inspection other vehicles were not checked at this point (only one or two for appearance sake, perfunctorily). Because of the delay the priests did not have time to hear all the confessions before the services ended. Outraged at the delay, the believers of Viešvėnai wrote a complaint to the Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR.
The driver was strictly forbidden to bring the priests back to Telšiai after the services, even though no restriction was placed on driving in other directions. Rayon officials hoped that the priests would not have time to return for the funeral procession to the Telšiai cemetery. However, several drivers offered to take the priests back to Telšiai after the services.
People came to the Telšiai cemetery carrying flowers and candles. At the cemetery, they were met by the militia, and in the cemetery by chekists, as well as by a band of soldiers armed with bayonets and guns. A group of militiamen stood at the grave of the Rainiai martyrs: this show of force by the godless seemed to incite the people to assemble purposely at this grave which swam in a sea of candles. The believers encouraged the priests who came to the cemetery:
"Don't be afraid, we're with you!"
The All Souls procession liturgy was performed by Dean of Telšiai, Father Antanas Striukis, and Father Jonas Kauneckas (at someone's initiative, people did not participate). The Cathedral and parish church choirs sang. Still, the godless broadcast classical music through loudspeakers. Several women went to ask that the radio be turned off. The security agents who wore hats while guarding the apparatus replied: "It is forbidden!"
The prayers of the faithful, even the solemn Libera sung by the joint choirs, were drowned out by the whining accompaniment which was shut off only when the godless performed their own ceremonies.
The funeral of the local pastor, Father Adomas Milerius, who died suddenly, was held on October 20, 1981. He was known as an extraordinarily energetic priest and had often borne the consequences of his zeal. During the postwar years, Father Milerius worked very successfully with young people at the Telšiai Cathedral. As a consequence, he was evicted from his apartment by the atheists and lived in a tent pitched in the churchyard. While working as Pastor of Gaurė, he organized a children's choir and was again punished by the government: he worked as an ordinary laborer in a peat bog. In the spring of 1981, he urged deans not to meet with the Religious Affairs Commissar when he summons them. Father Milerius had urged Father Leonas Šapoka to break his ties with the security police and tell the whole story. (Issue No. 17 of Dievas ir Tėvynė (God and Country) points out that the priest who worked for the security police, the protagonist of the sketch Naktis (Night), who died a martyr's death, is Father Leonas Šapoka.)
The atheists attempted to have their final revenge on Father Milerius: they forbade his burial in the churchyard. The consequences were unforseen. The funeral procession paralyzed the entire town. Offices and stores were closed. Everyone rushed into the street and joined the funeral procession. Plungė had never seen such a demonstration or such an assembly of people.
Some 10,000 people and over 100 priests attended the funeral services. In his sermon, Father Alfonsas Pridotkas argued that the atheists burned down the Gaurė church. Father Bronislovas Bulika thanked the rayon leaders in his sermon for setting Father Mileris as an example to factory management of how to manage the environment and organize people. Further in the sermon, he presented the idea that the Holy Father does not agree with the methods of certain priests of Lithuania in their fight against atheism because this allegedly provokes dangerous confrontation. Fathers Gedvilas and Jonas Kauneckas spoke of the urgent need to defend the Faith, while the Diocesan Administrator, Father Antanas Vaičius, thanked Father Milerius for his zeal and loyalty.
To: Petras Griškevičius, First Secretary of the Lithuanian SSR Central Committee
A Statement from: The believers of Pamūšys
A terrible misfortune has befallen us. On August 8th of this year, at 5:00 P.M., our Pastor, Father Leonas Mažeika was murdered. We are afraid to be left without a pastor. We ask that more young men be permitted to enter the seminary to prepare for the priesthood and thereby afford bishops more priests from whom they could appoint a pastor for us, because many parishes have been left without pastors. Such a fate may also befall our parish.
August 10, 1981 Signed by 271 believers.
On September 29, 1981, a search was conducted at the home of Father Feliksas Baliūnas, residing at Komjaunimo 17-1 in Šiauliai. The search was made by four chekists and two witnesses. It was begun at 9:00 A.M. and completed at 5:00 P.M. The priest's room, car and motorcycle were searched. The following were confiscated: an Optima typewriter, issue No. 12 of Tiesos kelias (Way of the Truth), Laiškai sesutės (A Sister's Letters), two copies of Z. Ivinskis' Lietuvos istorija (History of Lithuania). collections of poems entitled Kraujas ir ašaros (Blood and Tears) and Erškėčiams žydint (When the Brambles Bloom), 35 tape cassettes, various notes and addresses. Following the search, Father Balionas was taken to the security police and interrogated for one hour: he was ordered to tell where he obtained the articles confiscated in the search.
On September 1, 1981, a search was conducted at the home of Alminas, an instructor at the Šiauliai Pedagogical Institute.
On July 2, 1981, Kazimieras Buzas, residing in the Rayon of Prienai, the Village of Bačkininkai, was visited by a plainclothesman (probably a new Prienai Rayon KGB employee) and two militiamen. Without identifying themselves, the visitor demanded to see his papers. Since Buzas is a hunter, one of the militiamen ordered him to show where he kept his gun. Later they stated they would also inspect the insulation of the electrical wiring. Since when do security agents and militiamen inspect wiring? Under the guise of inspecting "electrical wiring" they went through all the rooms and, outbuildings, attentively noting the things there.
That same day "electrical wiring" was also inspected at the homes of two other village inhabitants.
This is a new method of conducting searches.
On the morning of September 26, 1981, it was discovered that the basement of Jonas Sadūnas had been burglarized and all of Nijolė Sadūnaitė's letters from labor camp, among other things, had been taken. For two days, Jonas Sadūnas pleaded with the militia to come to the scene of tne crime, but they arrived only on the third day.
At 11:00 A.M. on October 5th, a call was received at the apartment of Jonas Sadūnas, supposedly from the militia, asking that someone come to the department to draft a theft report. Jonas' wife, who was home at the time, declined to go, the official therefore promised to come in person that evening. Fifteen minutes later Jonas Sadūnas received a call from Sweden. The so-called militiaman never came; an attempt had apparently been made to disrupt the telephone call from abroad.
On July 10, 1981, Eduardas Bulach, a believer being persecuted for wishing to emigrate and renounce Soviet citizenship, was summoned to the Rayon of Lenin Militia Department to see Lieut. Vasiliauskas. At the order of Lieut. Col. Adomaitis, Bulach was taken from the militia to the New Vilnia Psychoneurological Hospital for a pre-trial medical examination (he is charged under art. 211 for the Criminal Code with evading military service). At the Psychoneurological Hospital, Bulach's wife was told that the mere fact that her husband wants to emigrate proves he is mentally ill, because a normal person could not wish to do so . . .
Finally, on July 21, 1981, Bulach was certified sane and released. But this freedom was very short-lived. On September 9, 1981, Eduardas Bulach was sentenced by the Vilnius People's Court to one year's imprisonment, the sentence to be served in a general regime labor camp. He was tried under the same art. 211 of the Criminal Code.
On October 14, 1981, the Supreme Court in Vilnius upheld Bulach's sentence of one year's imprisonment. At the trial, the defense attorney stated that Bulach is totally innocent and demanded that the case be dropped. The prosecutor responded that the sentence is light and proposed that the one-year sentence be upheld, which the court did.
Bulach's wife wrote letters of complaint to the Lithuanian SSR Supreme Court and the Prosecutor's Office and on October 22, 1981, received a written reply from Supreme Court Presiding Judge I. Misiūnas and chief legal counsel for criminal cases J. Murauskas stating that Eduardas Bulach received a fair trial and his sentence is not excessive, although he was given the longest sentence under art. 211.
At the Lukiškis prison, the prisoners threatened to kill Bulach if he did not renounce his belief in God. The blackmail did not frighten Eduardas. Presently, Bulach is at the Pravieniškės labor camp.
At home, he left a wife and three minor children.
Krakės (Rayon of Kėdainiai)
In September 1981, the Krakės parish children who were preparing to receive First Communion were interrogated at the Rayon of Kėdainiai Prosecutor's Office. Among other questions, they were asked who gave them catechisms, prayerbooks, rosaries and medals. Some of the children were asked why they gave the priests roses on their First Communion day.
On October 13, 1981, the pastor of Šilalė, Msgr. Feliksas Valaitis, was summoned to see Vice Chairman Baguška of the Rayon Executive Committee. For two hours, Baguška and Šilalė Security Police Chief Ališauskas reviled Msgr. Valaitis for "disorder" at the Šilalė church. In other words, why doesn't he restrain Šilalė assistant pastor Father Skiparis who is very anti-Soviet, why was Nijolė Sadūnaitė allowed to speak at the church? They also sounded their displeasure with Šilalė's other assistant pastor, Father Aloyzas Lideikis, who, according to them, is falling under the bad influence of Father Skiparis.
On October 14, 1981, the following members of the Šilalė church committee were summoned to see the rayon executive committee vice chairman: Juozas Štembergas, Julijonas Aužbikavičius and Jonas Masidunskas, Baguška read them a document stating that the Šilalė church will be closed if they do not restrain Šilalė assistant pastor Father Vytautas Skiparis. Štembergas and Aužbikavičius signed the document, but Masidunskas categorically refused to sign, stating that Father Vytautas Skiparis does not teach the people anything bad, does not incite them, but publicly states the truth from the pulpit.
Laukuva (Rayon of Šilalė)
During the night of August 23, 1981 someone broke into the church at Laukuva. The culprits broke the metal tabernacle with a crowbar, took the ciborium and spilled the Blessed Sacrament on the altar.
During the night of August 23, 1981, the Palanga church was burglarized. The culprits gained entrance through a high church window and stole all the sound equipment.
Tauragnai (Rayon of Utena)
During the night of August 23 to 24, 1981, malefactors broke into the Tauragnai church and stole the Blessed Sacrament, two ciboria, two Mass chalices and a vessel containing sacred oils.
On September 11, 12 and 13, services of atonement and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament were held at the Tauragnai church. Girls and women adored the Blessed Sacrament on the first and third days, boys and men on the second. The rosary was recited and the Stations of the Cross were made daily. The Services were attended by neighboring priests and a large number of local and neighboring parish believers. On Sunday, girls sang at Holy Mass. They made the Stations of the Cross and said the jsary. Due to the potato harvest, many parishioners and schoolchildren were kept from attending the services. Nearly 1,000 Holy Communions were distributed during the three days of atonement.
During the summer of 1981, the headstone-cross standing over the grave of Msgr. Dr. Kalistas Kosakauskis was knocked down. The cross had been listed on the register of monuments protected by the state. The protests of believers and tne complaint of the Telšiai Diocesan Priests' Senate to the USSR Prosecutor General were all ignored.
Vembutai (District of Viešvienai, Rayon of Telšiai)
On the morning of September 4, 1981, the people found a hole where a cross had stood for several decades. The faithful are greatly distressed by this crime committed by atheist hooligans. They used to visit, tend and adorn the cross.
Lieplaukė (Rayon of Telšiai)
On October 30, 1981, two militiamen and two men wearing hats were seen walking around the shrine which stood near the Delpša property in the center of Lieplaukė. The people were worried: "They're probably planning to destroy the beautiful shrine." And in fact, figures, stained glass and decorations disappeared from the shrine the following night.
Jadvyga Kaušienė (residing at Komunarų 7-9) worked in education for 25 years. She was valued and loved by all as an excellent specialist—speech therapist. When visiting Šiauliai, few speech therapists or school administrators did not drop in at the speech therapy lab (at Specialized School No. 2) established through her efforts. It was considered the best in equipment and methods. Jad-Kaušienė was well known throughout the republic as a specialist, she was cordial to any who wished to discuss her work experience and knowledge. Her son Rolandas Kaušas was a student at Šiauliai Middle School No. 5. He was a good student, there were no problems at school or at home. Everything seemed to be going well. But in December, 1978, Principal (Mrs.) Jakimčienė summoned Rolandas to her office and began to "re-educate" him. She claimed to have heard that Rolandas attended church and that he intended to enroll in the seminary. The outraged principal scolded him and warned him not to try this because there would be trouble. On December 22nd of that same year, Rolandas was summoned by the school Communist Youth League secretary for a talk on the same subject. The secretary was particularly incensed that the student associated with Father Feliksas Baliūnas.
On December 30th, the "heavy artillery" — the KGB — finally joined the "re-education" process. When they came to his home and found Rolandas alone, the chekists took him by car to their office. There they conducted a "preventive" course: they asked whether he read underground literature, with what priests he associated, did he really intend to enter the theological seminary, and forced him to sign an explanation.
In February, 1979, the records of graduating students were discussed at the school. Principal (Mrs.) Jamkimčienė ordered Rolandas Kaušas to stand up before the teachers and students and explain why he met with priests and why he wanted to enter the seminary. Rolandas remained silent. On March 1st, Rolandas' mother, teacher Jadvyga Kaušienė, was summoned by Principal Baltraitis of Specialized School No. 2 where she worked as a speech therapist. Secretary Mickutė of the school party organization attended the meeting. An interrogation was launched. They had heard that teacher Kaušienė's son intended to enter the seminary. After scolding the teacher, the principal threatened: "Do you know what awaits you? If your son enters the seminary, the entire school will suffer. How could you have reared your son so badly?"
On March 13th (Mrs.) Kaušienė was summoned to see Kleiš-manas, the head of the City of Šiauliai Department of Education. Principal Baltraitis also attended. (Mrs.) Kaušienė was again deluged with questions and scolded for her son's "bad" upbringing. Kleiš-manas explained: "If your son enters the theological seminary, things will be bad not only for the school but for all Šiauliai." He told her to think things over and dissuade her son. Finally, Kaušienė was summoned on June 19th to the Šiauliai division of the KGB. She was interrogated by two chekists. They accused her of associating with evil people — with Father Baliūnas and Jadvyga Petkevičienė — of writing letters to the Mordovia concentration camp where political prisoner Algirdas Žiprė had been imprisoned for over 20 years, of being responsible for her son choosing "the wrong road", etc. The days passed. Rolandas Kaušas finally graduated from middle school. He enrolled in the Kaunas Polytechnic Institute to further his studies. Everything seemed to have calmed down. However, the "vigilant eye and sharp ear" did not leave the Kaušas family in peace. On February 16, 1980, Teacher Kaušienė was again summoned by Principal Baltraitis to explain the attitude which was unbecoming of a Soviet educator — the "bad" upbringing of her son. In June of that same year, her son Rolandas reached a decision and forwarded an application to the Kaunas Theological Seminary. Due to the "hard work" of the KGB and collaborators, the application was rejected. Because of the attacks and rebukes of the KGB and their henchmen and the nervous pressure, Kaušiene fell ill in June and was admitted to the Romainiai Tuberculosis Hospital where she stayed for about six months. After regaining some of her strength, she returned to work in January, 1981. Principal Baltraitis immediately went on the offensive. He ordered (Mrs.) Kaušienė to write her resignation. When she asked what she did wrong, she was told that it was because of her son. Kaušienė did not resign.
Vacation time arrived. Telephone "attacks" were then launched. Principal Baltraitis telephoned her at home:
"Bring your resignation. You do not have the moral right to work in a Soviet school!"
He warned her not to attempt to return to work after vacation. At the end of the vacation, (Mrs) Kaušienė nonetheless returned to her school. That same day, Principal Baltraitis again rebuked the teacher, shouted that it was not his decision, that he had been ordered to treat her thus in order to force her to resign.
The days passed (Mrs.) Kaušienė continued to work, but the clouds grew darker. On February 19th, Kaušienė was again summoned to justify herself to the principal. Baltraitis lamented: he is continually harassed and summoned and if Kaušienė does not leave the school "of her own will" he will really suffer the consequences.
And so endless sessions of persuasion continued. On March 2nd Baltraitis summoned teacher Kaušienė and shouted in a rage:
"If you don't leave, I'll take moie severe measures. I'm the principal and I must handle this matter."
Losing her patience,Teacher Jadvyga Kaušienė wrote a statement that she resigned at the order of the government, but Baltraitis rejected this format:
"They'll call me crazy if I bring them such a statement. . ."
At this time, (Mrs) Kaušienė's son Rolandas fell gravely ill. He was admitted to a hospital for an operation. Beset by all kinds of trouble and still believing her colleagues had some shred of conscience left, the teacher wrote a statement to Kleišmanas, the head of the City of Šiauliai Department of Education, asking that she be permitted to complete the academic year, until her son regained his health, until she found another job. But all in vain! Education Department Head Kleišmanas ordered principal Baltraitis:
"See to it that she leaves the school as soon as possible and loses the desire to write statements . . ."
At the time, Kaušienė was nursing her gravely ill son.
On March 14th, Teacher Stakvilevičienė telephoned and told Kaušienė to come to the school and bring her letter of resignation.
In the meantime, (Mrs.) Kaušienė still hoped that Education Department Head Kleišmanas would recognize her difficult circumstances and temporarily leave her in peace. In vain! On March 16th, she was forced to leave her ailing son and go to the school.
At the school she found her inquisitors already assembled: Principal Baltraitis, Assistant Principal Ruškus, Teacher Stakvilevičienė and the school secretary. When asked what they wanted from her, the secretary began to read a document concerning her dismissal. Before the "sentence" was completely read, (Mrs.) Kaušienė attempted to leave, but Baltraitis jumped up and blocked her way, giving her a paper to sign. (Mrs.) Kaušienė did not sign and left. This is how the resignation "of her own will" was effected. This is how educator-speech therapist Jadvyga Kaušienė was rewarded for her many years of work and dedication to children.
On September 2, 1981, at a meeting of industry and office party leaders in the City of Šiauliai, party First Secretary J. Lukauskas stated that they have long enough coddled religious fanatics, they must stop listening to what the Vatican says and must give the order to raze the Hill of Crosses . . .
The Village of Dambrava (Rayon of Prienai)
To: First Secretary Griškevičius of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Lithuanian SSR
In 1919 our forefathers built in the Village of Dambrava a small wooden chapel to the honor of the Redeemer and the Blessed Virgin.
People of good will restored the damaged chapel in the summer of 1981. This did not go unnoticed by rayon party officials. On September 28th, Prienai Rayon Architect Lėkštutis demolished it with two men who were under arrest. Deeply disturbed, two women who are believers, (Mrs.) Dievynienė and (Mrs.) Slavinskienė, managed to salvage a statue of Mary and a cross from the laden truck.
The faithful set the statue and the cross on the foundations of the demolished chapel. The women decorated the consecrated spot by planting flowers around the foundation.
Party officials did not like this love of God and devotion to one's Faith. On October 9th, Prienai Rayon MSV party organization Secretary (Mrs.) Levanauskienė came to the place. It was amazing with what loathing and terrible vehemence she trampled the planted flowers and pounded the cross and statue. (Mrs.) Levanauskienė took away the desecrated cross and statue.
The foundations of the chapel ravaged by the godless did not remain empty and desolate. Women again planted flowers and decorated the surroundings. But there is no limit to the hatred of the godless!
"Level it to the ground!" they decided. Rayon officials brought the Byelorussian Pučkov with a tractor from the MSV, but the driver refused to level the foundations.
Planted with flowers, surrounded by the love of the Faithful and stubbornly defended, the chapel foundations still stand to this day . . .
We, the undersigned believers, demand that responsible party officials stop trampling the name of the "most democratic country," stop transforming us into Negroes with no rights and correct this injury done us. A chapel must be allowed to stand on its site!
Signed by 46 believers.
Gargždai (Rayon of Klaipėda)
On August 2, 1981, the parish committee of Gargždai in the Rayon of Klaipėda addressed a petition to Religious Affairs Commissar Anilionis, demanding that believers be granted the opportunity to erect religious shrine-crosses on the graves of believers. The statement declares that Gargždai believers have addressed Klaipėda Rayon Chief Architect (Mrs.) Keblauskienė many times requesting permission to erect a cross on a believer's grave, but have always received a negative reply. She suggested that they select a tombstone from the album of approved samples, without religious symbols. "Can we turn believers into atheists after their death?" the petition asks.
On August 21, 1981, the Gargždai parish committee received the following reply from Commissar for Religious Affairs Anilionis: "Upon reviewing the questions raised in your petition, I inform you that, in accordance with the "Cemetery Regulations" confirmed by Decision No. 386 of the Lithuanian SSR Council of Ministers on November 30, 1979, permission to erect structures on gravesites is granted by the body which has charge of the cemetery. Ordinarily, structures must be made by the institution serving the daily needs of the inhabitants according to models or special plans approved by city (rayon) architects. No one is forced to erect tombstones in cemeteries, citizens may choose which tombstone they wish to erect, special albums are even prepared to help them.
"The document from the Telšiai Chancery which you mention has not, as far as I know, been cleared by any government organ and, of course, has no legal strength. Cemeteries are under the jurisdiction of local government organs and their decisions must be implemented."
On August 30, 1981, the Gargždai parish believers in the Rayon of Klaipėda addressed a petition to the Council for Religious Affairs under the USSR Council in Moscow. The petition's text was similar to the August 2, 1981 petition addressed to Commissar for Religious Affairs Anilionis. The petition was signed by hundreds of believers. A favorable reply was received from Moscow, stating that crosses may be erected.
On October 27, 1981, Nijolė Sadūnaitė and her brother Jonas Sadūnas sent a statement to the Communications Ministry. They wrote that assistant head G.Samoilovichof the Vilnius Central Post Office again falsely claimed in her June 8, 1981 reply regarding the tracing of 74 registered letters to foreign countries containing Easter greetings, that " . . .the registered letters being traced were expedited in due course and delivered to the proper addressee." The statement continues: "Our correspondence with friends living abroad has been completely cut off since July 1980. We were personally informed of the disappearance of our letters to Friar Hieronymus, residing in Israel, by Innocently Iazvikov from Israel who was visiting Vilnius. He confirmed that Friar Hieronymus has received none of our letters since June, 1980. Therefore Samoilovich's claim that our registered letters Nos. 348, 431, 350, 82, 253, 788 and 954 to Friar Hieronymus "were delivered to the proper addressee" is false. We have learned from U.S. tourists that registered letters we sent in 1981 were not received by: L. Jankauskaitė: Nos. 254 and 791, M. Grušienė: Nos. 255 and 38, S. Dambrauskas: No. 256, M. Vasys : No.
253, D. Juozaponis: No. 311 and others. We have learned from West German friends that since July 1980 none of our registered letters were received by: Michaela Baumann: Nos. 912, 359, 789 and 956, Erich Weiss: Nos. 790 and 953; D. Trefter: Nos. 494 and 257, His Excellency Bishop Josef Stimpfle: No. 260, C. Starrmann: No. 957, H. Nalbach: 312, Claudia Damm: No. 317, Hans Valks: No. 318, A. Neufeld: No. 320, A. Schuster, No. 236, Ursula Kust-ner: No. 238, V. Schefeld: No. 240, L. Zarnethe registered letters you are tracing have been expedited in due course and delivered to the proper addressee?
"Samoilovich did not provide us with any documented evidence that at least one of the registered letters being traced reached its addressee."
Further in the statement, the minister is asked to admonish Samoilovich to stop sending false responses and provide compensation for the expenses incurred in sending 74 registered letters abroad with return receipts C-5 which were not returned and the expenses incurred in tracing the 74 missing registered letters.
Šaukėnai (R a y o n of Kelmė)
The funeral of veterinarian Petras Liesius was held in Šaukėnai on September 16, 1981. He was a believer, received the Sacrament of the Sick before dying and wished to be accorded a Catholic burial. Unfortunately, intimidated by atheist government threats, his wife Veronika Liesienė arranged an atheist funeral. The decedant's brother, Father Antanas Liesius, paying his brother his last respects at the gravesite, preached a meaningful sermon and stirred those present. Several government atheists were displeased, among them Šaukėnai middle school teacher-atheist Irena Rakauskienė, who interrupted the priest's talk with her remarks:
"What kind of stories are you telling here? Get out of here! We'll give our own talk."
This teacher is also infamous in school for her cynicism, she offends and ridicules believing students.
People were pleased to hear the truthful words of Father Liesius that the decedant's last wish must not be trampled underfoot.
On October 21, 1981, secretary of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Communist Youth League Tėvelis gave a lecture in Kybartai. Stating that he would talk about the use of economic assets, the speaker digressed from the stated subject after just a few sentences about the economy, and went on to speak about religion. The Communist Youth League secretary was incensed that crosses are still being erected in Lithuania and even in public places: along roadsides. Tėvelis pledged that crosses were and would continue to be torn down, because it is forbidden to erect a cross, even in one's own yard, without obtaining approval. The Soviet government is very anxious that the younger generation grow up godless. In his opinion, the people are strongly swayed by the clergy, especially by extremist priests like the pastor of Kybartai, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, Jonas Kauneckas, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas. The lecturer spoke long and vehemently about Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, charging him with being the patron of the late Father Virgilijus Jaugelis, at whose grave the people now pray as to a saint. According to the Communist Youth secretary, the late priest was not even a priest, but an imposter, like Father Jonas Matulionis, now serving as assistant pastor in Kybartai, since he does not have a government certificate.
"And who gave him the right to preach?" shouted Tėvelis.
The speaker also mentioned the procession to Šiluva which was to have been held on August 23rd:
"We will not permit such processions to be organized, we will not permit anything similar to the Polish situation to occur! We have strength on our side and we have ample measures to take care of the organizers . . . Severe measures will be taken against the extremist clergy."
To: P. Griškevičius, First Secretary of the Communist Party, Lithuanian SSR
We, the believers of Kėdainiai, are deeply outraged at the actions of the atheists under the leadership of the rayon Vice Chairman.
Throughout the summer, rayon atheists did not permit us to pray in peace; we suffered and remained silent, but now we can no longer remain so; they have overstepped the bounds of humanity.
Through the summer, atheists visited our parish churches, noted the names of children attending church and later handed these lists over to rayon Vice Chairman Juškevičius who then passed them on to the prosecutor's office. As a result, our children and we ourselves are now being interrogated. We are amazed that even the prosecutor's office is turned against good children, while delinquents are coddled, and this prompts the thought that some kind of internal conspiracy exists between them. By doing this, the atheists completely ignore the Soviet Constitution which permits praying, at least in church.
Our children do not steal or loot, do not loiter around bars with bottles in their hands and everyone should be glad that they pray because the Church teaches only good. The Church's entire teaching is based on the commandment: "Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself."
We feel responsible for our children's moral upbringing and wish to draw your attention to one more fact.
In Kėdainiai, our church is bordered on one side by the middle school and on the other side by the Vilnis store which still sells wine and other alcoholic beverages. This is why we cannot fend off drunks; but most of all, they give a horrible example to the young generation, the schoolchildren.
It is true that through the efforts of the principal of Middle School No. 1 and the rayon's deputy, this question was debated and it was decided that from May 1st of this year the Vilnis store would no longer sell alcoholic beverages. But unfortunately these decisions never left the drawer, because wine is still sold and furthermore a beer stand was brought in and erected outside in the yard.
We therefore protest such arbitrariness and disorder and demand:
1.That our children be left in peace and not intimidated, because Soviet and international laws grant parents the right to choose for their children the faith they themselves profess. Such behavior by atheists merely undermines the prestige of the Soviet government.
2.We demand that alcoholic beverages and the beer stand be moved from the Vilnis store as far away as possible from our school and our surroundings.
October 18, 1981 Signed by 491 believers.
Rayon of Klaipėda
On April 19, 1981, the inhabitants of the Village of Lapiai, Pikteikiai, Utriai, Pažvelsiai, Greičiūnai, etc. in the Rayon of Klaipėda, Julius Janonis State Farm workers and retired believers, who wished to attend the nearest church on Sunday, addressed a letter to the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party and Religious Affairs Commissar Anilionis, asking them to exert pressure on the state farm authorities to grant them the use of state farm or intra-state farm buses. The petition was signed by fifty believers.
As was later learned, the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party forwarded the petition to the local Communist Party organization for consideration. Therefore, at the beginning of May, 1981, Pranas Brauklys, whose address had been given on the petition, was visited by Secretary Rudys of the Rayon of Klaipėda Gargždai Communist Party who verbally responded that he is powerless to do anything about the bus question: "no buses are available, it is impossible."
On May 22, 1981, the believers again addressed First Secretary Griškevičius of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Lithuanian SSR with a detailed explanation:
"When we give all our strength to the state farm, doesn't decency require that the state farm help us, regardless of fanaticism . . . Doesn't the unsatisfactory reply of Gargždai Communist Party Secretary Rudys incite the workers to behave as Polish workers did when the Party ignored their needs? If the state farm does not provide us and our children with the conditions to live according to art. 52 of the Soviet Constitution, are we not being morally compelled to leave it and seek more favorable conditions?" the Janonis state farm believers conclude their petition.
Ylakiai (Rayon of Skuodas)
On May 9, 1980, distinguished teacher (Miss) Birutė Vinda-siūtė died at the Kaunas clinics. During the war and throughout the postwar period she worked at the Ylakiai Middle School. At her request, she was administered the Sacrament of the Sick before dying. Moreover, she asked her family to bury her with church rites. Sensing this, Chairwoman (Miss) V. Zubavičiūtė of the Ylakiai District Executive Committee, Secretary Jonas Zalepūga of the Skuodas Rayon Communist Party committeee and other government atheists did their utmost to persuade the family with promises and threats to bury the remains of the late Birutė without the ministry of a priest. They promised to pay the burial expenses, to arrange everything: orchestra, flowers, wreaths and bring all the middle school teachers and students. But when the family refused to go against the decedant's wishes, they began to threaten:
"If you have a priest at her burial, not a single teacher will attend, not a single local intellectual, not a single student, etc."
But this did not frighten the family. The funeral was held on May 11th. The late Birutes real friends — her former students — came from all over Lithuania and filled the church. In his sermon the pastor of Ylakiai pointed out that the decedant still teaches us today how to live and die.
Afterward, with a cross at its head, a half-mile-long procession of people escorted the decedant to the cemetery. But the crowd did not include any Ylakiai middle school students or any of her colleagues who obeyed the atheists' ban. The people who attended the funeral were spied upon through binoculars from behind bushes by local district chairwoman V. Zubavičiūtė, Skuodas Rayon Communist Party Secretary Jonas Zalepūga, Skuodas Rayon Newspaper Mūsų žodis (Our Word) Assistant Editor J. Kurtinaitis and other government atheists who recorded in their notebooks the names and license plates of the people they knew, so as to terrorize them later.
Months passed, the late Birutės last and most honorable posthumous lesson gave Skuodas atheists no peace. On December 13, 1980,the Skuodas Rayon newspaper Our Word printed an article by Assistant Editor J. Kurtinaitis "Ko rauda paukštis medžio viršūnėje?" "Why Does the Bird Weep in the Treetop?" in which he laments: "Why was she not accorded a fitting burial . . ." The author rebukes Father K. Arlauskas, Birutė's former confessor, who administered the last rites to her. He writes further:
"Although several months have passed since the funeral, the people of Ylakiai have not forgotten that a funeral procession of school children did not follow behind the casket, that words of great respect and gratitude were not spoken . . ."
There was indeed reason for indignation. But who is responsible, if not the fanaticism of Skuodas Rayon and Ylakiai District atheists?
All who attended the funeral still admire the family's adherence to principle, their great love and respect for the decedant. They admire them for not being intimidated by the threats or enticed by the promises.
Žarėnai (Rayon of Telšiai)
On September 23, 1981, Father A. Pridotkas sent the following statement to the Lithuanian SSR Supreme Energy Authority:
"The majority of Žarėnai parish believers are Soviet farm workers. They work for the state. In the real world, including saloons, they pay 4 kopeks per kilowatt/hour for electricity. But when these same workers assemble to pray in church, they must then pay six times more per kilowatt/hour. Citizens who attend atheist meetings or atheist programs pay nothing for electricity. And those who pay in their stead, do not pay 25 kopeks per kilowatt/hour either. I know of no instance in which 25 kopeks was charged. Perhaps you do? If electricity is hooked up to a cattle or pig barn, no one charges the owner six times the usual rate. But when electricity is connected to a church, the rate is 600% higher. Is that just?
Please explain the following:
1. On what basis is the electricity rate six times higher when these same Soviet citizens come to pray in church?
2. Why such discrimination against believers, when compared to the situation of atheists, drunks and animals?
3. When will the 600% rate difference for the same kilowatt/hour be eliminated?
4. Perhaps you have been directed by other agencies to charge believers praying in church more for electricity? If so, please let me know who gave these instructions. I will address them.
I await a reply to all four questions, within the time period set for responses to citizen inquiries, at the following address: 235612 Rayon of Telšiai, Žarėnai Father Alfonsas Pridotkas, Pastor
On July 28, 1981, Kretinga Library employee Irena Pelionytė was summoned from work by telephone to go see Department of Culture head V. Litvinas, where she found Kretinga KGB Chief Kormilcev also awaiting her. Litvinas immediately left the office and chekist Kormilcev locked the door, saying that he disliked having a serious conversation interrupted. When Pelionytė asked who he was he identified himself as the head of the KGB. The chekist conveyed his condolences to Irena on the recent death of her father; he blamed Stalin for the fact that Irena's parents had been deported to Siberia, and then began to ask how many Friends of the Eucharist exist in Kretinga, who their leader is and whether she reads the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania Irena replied that she knows nothing about these things. The chekist began to shout that she was lying, he attempted to frighten the girl, but failed. He then told Irena that even priests work for them (the chekists) and as a reward those priests are given large parishes. Irena was astonished to hear the head of the KGB admit that priests are appointed to parishes not by the Chancery, but by the KGB.
Kormilcev then began to interrogate Irena about Šiluva, and asked who forced her to participate in the procession. Irena replied that everyone goes to pray voluntarily: only membership in the Communist Youth League is compulsory. The chekist showed the young woman photographs of last year's march and ordered her to identify the participants. She explained that she went to pray and not make friends and, furthermore, she would betray no one. The infuriated KGB chief vented his anger by cursing Jadvyga Stanely-tė, nuns, the Jesuits and extremist priests because, according to him, they drew young people to this march and that already amounts to politics . . .
Failing to obtain any information, the chekist instructed Irena to lie to her colleagues that Litvinas had given her some work and she was therefore delayed, and ordered her to sign that she would tell no one about this conversation. The young woman refused to sign. In conclusion, he gave her another appointment at 11:00 A.M. on August 14th in Palanga near the Pušynas vacation home and threatened to order her liquidated if she did not come.
On October 22, 1981, (Miss) Jadvyga Žiliūtė was summoned to see Vice Chairman A. Dauneckas of the Kretinga Rayon Executive Committee. In the office were: Dauneckas himself, rayon party committee Third Secretary (Mrs.) O. Liutkienė, Internal Affairs Department Head A. Akinskas and City of Kretinga Executive Committee Chairwoman (Mrs.) A. Kubilinskienė.
The teacher had barely walked in when Dauneckas briefly described her as:
"Former teacher, well educated, now retired, has an apartment, a telephone, but is engaged in criminal activities: she lures young people to church and organizes youth meetings."
(Miss) Liutkienė added:
"She clouds the minds of young people, makes them unhappy and thereby harms society and the state."
"How can I, an insignificant person, harm the state, what proof have you?" asked Jadvyga Žiliūtė.
"We'll designate your apartment a brothel!"
"That's unjust. When just beyond the wall a real den of inquity does exist: drinking goes on day and night and no one pays any attention."
"That's our mistake," admitted Akinskas.
The former teacher was threatened with punishment for religious activity and organizing young people: first, with a monetary fine, then with revocation of her apartment and pension and internment in an old people's boarding home: she would be "isolated."
There followed a torrent of accusations:
"You make young people second-rate and unhappy, you do apolitical work."