On January 7, 1983, in the hospital at Pakruojus, Father Leopoldas Pratkelis, President of the Panevėžys Cathedral Chapter and Pastor of Linkuva, died of a heart attack. He was one of the enlightened and courageous personages in the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Msgr. Pratkelis was born June 5, 1912, in St. Petersburg. After his parents returned to Lithuania, he lived in the District of Zarasai, Parish of Antalieptė, Village of Paciškiai. Upon finishing Antalieptė Elementary School, he attended Utena High School, and later entered the seminary in Kaunas. On June 11, 1938, Leopoldas Pratkelis was ordained priest and served for a time as Associate Pastor of Klovainiai, in Pabiržė. In 1942, he was appointed Chaplain to the Boys' High School in Panevėžys. When the Russians occupied Lithuania, Bishop Kazimieras Paltarokas appointed Father Pratkelis Chancellor of the Panevėžys Diocese. The chancellor's place should have been in the cathedral; however, persecuted and under surveillance, he left Panevėžys to work in Rokiškis, later in Seduva. For three years, he served as pastor in Rozalimas where in 1950, he was arrested and spent six years in Russian prisons.
Returning to Lithuania, Father Pratkelis worked in Pumpėnai, at first as an associate pastor, and later, as pastor. In 1950, he was appointed as a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter.
In 1964, Msgr. Pratkelis was transferred to the parish of Smilgiai, simultaneously serving as Dean of the Šeduva Deanery. Before two years were up in Smilgiai, he was transferred to Debeikiai. In Debeikiai, a criminal case was being prepared against Msgr. Pratkelis for teaching children catechism, but protests from parishioners helped him avoid a trial. In 1972, he was assigned to Linkuva.
Msgr. Pratkelis was always busy, full of new plan and ideas. For over ten years, he was a member of the Liturgical Commission of Lithuania. To his last days, Msgr. Pratkelis was concerned about all the affairs of the Church: pastoral work in parishes, religious education of the children (he himself used to prepare children for First Communion), the seminary, the fight against alcoholism in the country, etc. The monsignor loved people, he knew how to get along with priests and parishioners. Wherever he served, everyone remembered him warmly.
On January 10, 1983, Msgr. Pratkelis was buried in the churchyard of Linkuva. Participating in the funeral were Bishops Julijonas Steponavičius, Vincentas Sladkevičius, Romualdas Krikščiūnas, Antanas Vaičius, over 160 priests and a large crowd of the faithful. Sermons were preached by Bishop Steponavičius, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Canon Bronius Antanaitis, Canon P. Žiuke-lis, Father Vincas Arlauskas and others.
The death of Msgr. Pratkelis has been the greatest loss to the Diocese of Panevėžys after the death of Bishop Kazimieras Paltarokas.