On June 19, 1985, Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis was released from the Smolensk Camp under amnesty. By a happy coincidence that day, in the Church of Saint Michael, Father Stanislovas Valiukėnas was celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his priesthood. Just before the principal Mass, a worn-out Father Matulionis, who had just returned to Vilnius, entered the church. He had often sung in Saint Michael's Church back in the old days, and was well liked by everyone. Father Matulionis, so recently a prisoner, sang during the solemn Mass, just as he used to. Many of the faithful were surprised: The voice was familiar. . . .FatherMatulionis . . .Butno . . . He is in prison ... It really was he . . .
Since the priest is seriously ill, they certified him in camp for invalid category number one. Besides, the article on which he was sentenced was covered by the amnesty, so they let him go.
After the solemn Mass when many had already left, the former prisoner, father Matulionis, exhausted, emaciated but with a shining countenence, came out to the altar. Approaching the altar, he kissed the ground and, thanking God for the gift of the Faith and the gift of the priesthood, and the people for their prayers, he began to offer
Mass. Sensitive to all, and prone to weep at the misfortunes of others, Father Matulionis stood at the altar, emaneiated hut not broken. The people in church wept, the tears flowing spontaneously and unchecked. The women and children wept, the men brushed tears away uninhibited, old ladies grieved silently. No words were necessary. Everyone saw what the devastation wrought by Soviet prison camp means. And he had only been there eight months...
After the gospel, the priest uttered just a few thoughts, but every word of his rang true from experience: "If people really believed in God and loved Him, there would be no camps, and the horror which I saw would not exist," said Father Matulionis. He recalled Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Father Sigitas Tamkevicius and all those suffering for the Faith, urging the people to pray for God's blessing, strength and freedom for them. The young people who had assembled to celebrate the jubilee greeted the returned prisoner joyously. After Mass, many still wished to meet Father Matulionis and talk with him; but the priest promised to visit everyone later, since he had to report to the militia then, and get at least some rest. He said, "There will be time, we shall meet. I want to visit and console my sister and relatives. They have suffered much."
On Sunday, June 23, Father Matulionis visited Kybartai. Young and old greeted their priest on his return, while he thanked them for their prayers and promised to visit everyone again soon.
Barely a week passed and it was reported that Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis had been arrested.
On June 26, about noon, as the priest was preparing to celebrate Mass at home, two unknown men came into his apartment, and accosted the former prisoner, demanding to know why he had not registered. Father Matulionis asked the uninvited guests to introduce themselves. The men who had come in produced identification — KGB agents! When the priest explained that his papers were being put in order, and that he had already been to the militia (and everyone knows that in the Soviet system, no one can register in a day), the chekists ordered him to dress and come with them to explain himself. The KGB allowed the housekeeper to pack him food for a day, saying that the first day, no one would give him any. It was obvious that Father Matulionis was being arrested again. Many still hoped that it was a misunderstanding, a mistake; it would be cleared up and they would release him. But the days passed while he sat in the Lukiskis Prison. Once again, he was with criminals!
They told his family that there would be no new trial, since he had already been convicted; why they had rearrested the barely released priest, they never explained. Only one of the chekists retorted. "He hardly managed to get back when he arranged a new demonstration." Can it be that the warm welcome of a returning priest in the faithful is considered a criminal "demonstration"?
Can there be a greater mockery — to let one have a taste of freedom and without even letting one rest and recuperate, return him extremely exhausted, actually barely alive, to the nightmare of camp?