On January 17, 1988, in the Cathedral of Telšiai, His Excellency, Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius, having read the lesson and Gospel designated for the Sunday, addressed the faithful, saying that it is necessary to love truth and if need be, to defend it from lies and calumny. The bishop said that he felt an obligation to respond to an article concerning him by correspondent A. Chaikovsky, published January 12, 1988, in Tiesa. The article is called, "The Chronicle is Based on Calumnies".
"What is written in this article concerning me," the bishop said, "is a pure lie. The only truth is that I was prepared that day to go out when two strangers called on me and introduced themselves as correspondents of Tiesa."
The bishop received them as he does all callers on business. The strangers were officious and aloof, the tone of their questions, almost aggressive. The first question: "Why do you refuse to pubish a Catholic newspaper?"
The bishop replied breifly, "We refuse because it is obvious to everyone that the newspaper will not be the kind Catholics need. We need a newspaper similar in content to the kind which Catholic dioceses publish, for example, in the German Democratic Republic."
The second question: "Do you read the Chronicle?"
The bishop responded, "Not now."
To the question, "Did you read it earlier? What do you think of it?", the bishop explained that the Chronicle is a necessary publication since it raises difficulties which the Church in Lithuania and the faithful, victims of discrimination and of attacks by the atheists and officials, encounter.
Here the bishop gave the reporters an example, in connection with his mother's funeral. While the bishop was in internal exile, his mother died. The mother wished to be interred in her native parish of Žasliai. When application was made to the local government asking for a truck to take the casket with the mother's remains to Žasliai, government officials sarcastically retorted, "Let his mother rot here..."
Having listened to the bishop's account with frowns on their faces, the
Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius, created Cardinal in May 1988.
reporters put a third question: "What do you think of Father Rokas Puzonas?"
The bishop replied that Father Rokas Puzonas is a good, exemplary priest. Such is the opinion of all the priests.
There were no further questions. Bishop Sladkevičius did not speak either about his youth, nor about the fact that he lacked the wherewithal to bury his mother and asked the assistance of the chairman of the communal farm, nor about sports... Nor about the "improvement" of life, nor about the fact that the Chronicle is causing distrust among priests and that the bishop does not agree with "attacks on the government", that the renunciation of an "official publication" had been hasty, and that he had warned Father Rokas Puzonas...
Conclusion: If Tiesa, the official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania, dares to lie so brazenly about Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius, it is not difficult to understand how little truth there is in that same article by reporter Chaikovsky, which was carried for three issues of Tiesa.
On January 19, 1988, the priests of the rayon were summoned to the Šakiai Rayon Executive Committee. The Vice Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Juozėnas, came to meet with the priests. He informed the priests that plans
Msgr. Juozapas Žemaitis, Dean of Šakiai.
are afoot to issue new Regulations for Religious Associations, in which, according to him, the requirements of the Church would be considered. At this point, he stated: "As long as the new Regulations have not been confirmed, it is necessary to adhere strictly to the old."
When the Pastor of Lukšiai, Father Lionginas Kunevičius, asked whether the new Regulations for Religious Associations would be submitted for public consideration, and whether the clergy would be able to make comments, Juozėnas replied, "The religious people in our country arc a minority, so there is no sense in submitting the Regulations for public discussion."
The Dean of Sakiai, Msgr. Juozapas Žemaitis, tried to ascertain why the Soviet government suppressed all the religious orders which had been operating at the time in Lithuania. The Vice Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Juozėnas, replied that he did not know why this was done! (True, lately in the press from time to time, brief news items appear with the idea that some of their houses, for example, in Liškiava, be returned. Incidentally, the religious orders' sphere of activity is strictly outlined here. Besides strict control by the government atheists, these would become appendages to the collective farms, growing vegetables; and no matter how paradoxical, the government would "allow" them to nurse one or the other ailing old person.)
At the end of the meeting, as a gesture of "friendship and cooperation", an offer was again made to the priests to take advantage of the excursion being specially organized to a communal pig farm. The priests categorically refused the excursion.
Gargždai (Klaipėda Rayon)
At the beginning of February 1988, the priests of the Rayon were summoned to the Klaipėda Rayon Executive Committee for a meeting with government officials. Executive Committee Vice Chairman V. Leita read the priests a lecture prepared by the Office of the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, in which, based on records of interrogations during the Stalin era, Bishops Vincentas Borisevičius and Pranciškus Ramanauskas of Telšiai arc insulted and called "helpers of the bandits". During the lecture, Father Jonas Pakalniškis, Pastor of the parish of Laukuva, and Father Jonas Kauneckas, Pastor of Skaudvilė, were accused of delivering "politically ambiguous" sermons.
After the lecture, Father Juozapas Janauskas reminded everyone that Bishop Ramanauskas was constantly demeaned in Soviet labor camp, and worked as a priwy janitor. Birutė Kalendrienė, Director of the Rayon Division of Agitation and Propaganda retorted, "Such a bandit deserved it!"
Father Antanas Šeškevičius, Associate Pastor of the Parish of Gargždai, noted, not without reason, "The lecture shows that Stalinism is returning to Lithuania."
During the meeting with government representatives, the priests were warned not to pray for Lithuania in church on February 16.
On February 4,1988, the priests of the City and Rayon of Alytus were summoned to the Rayon Executive Committee for a "talk". Participating in the talk was First Secretary Rybakov of the city's Party Committee, and Vice Chairman Makštutis. Also participating was the editor of the Rayon newspaper, the director of the Department of Finances, Second Party Secretary Aleksandravičius, a city architect, several deputies and even the Rayon procurator.
The basic reason for the priests' gathering was to warn them sternly not to try to arrange any church commemorations on the occasion of February 16.
Bishop Ramanauskas upon his return from Siberia in 1956.
The officials demanded that on February 14-16, no services be organized in the churches to commemorate the anniversary of the independence of Lithuania. "Otherwise," warned Alytus Party Committee First Secretary Rybakov, "we have the right to close the churches if they are used for other than religious purposes."
In his report, Alytus Rayon Executive Committee Chairman Antanavičius quoted Canon Law regarding what a priest may do, what he is forbidden, and obviously, commented on everything in his own way.
The deceased bishops of the Lowlandcrs, Borisevičius and Ramanauskas, were recalled bitterly, as organizers and helpers of those who resisted the Soviet government after the war. Nor were the Bishops of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis, Skvireckas and Brizgys, overlooked.
It was their fault, the government officials brazenly lied, that during and after the war, Lithuania lost about five hundred priests. Some of them, who were against the Soviet government when it came in in 1940, had to flee to the West. Others, who cooperated with the post-war resistance, were isolated from the public.
For purposes of illustration, confessions which had been obtained during interrogations were resurrected from the archives, even though during the so-called restructuring, even the official press reports widely the manner in which confessions were obtained during Stalin-era, how Stalin put even his most loyal generals in the prisoners' dock, and how his henchmen "legally" took care of those condemned.
Father Vytautas Gustaitis indicated Father Antanas Mieldažys as a victim of the Stalinist terror, and suggested that he be asked how he got ten years in prison for an alleged crime against the Soviet government.
Father Rumšas was faulted for the "non-religious content" of his sermons. Father Pranas Račiūnas was required not to allow the illegal priests, Ričardas Repšys and Jonas Boruta, to work in his parish. In the words of Executive Committee Vice Chairman Makštutis, no priest without a certificate issued by Petras Anilionis has the right to work in any parish.
Vice Chairman Laukienė, of the Alytus Rayon Executive Committee, submitted examples showing that not all priests abide by government regulations. Some of them preach unsuitably, like the pastor of the parish of Kiaukliai, Rokas Puzonas, Antanas and Kazimieras Gražulis, as well as Jonas Kauneckas; others erect crosses and statues in the churchyard without asking permission, like Father Vytautas Insoda, and the Pastor of Butrimonys, Edvardas Kraujalis, while Father Vaclovas Stakėnas holds a Christmas party for children at an unsuitable time.
This time, not a single priest mentioned in the report kept silent. And when the City Executive Committee Chairman Janušauskienė began showing a model of new rayons being erected, the priests asked where the new church would be erected. Party Second Secretary Aleksandravičius tried to assure them, "If it is needed, there will be a church also..." With this, the meeting ended.
At the beginning of February 1988, priests working in the rayon were summoned to the Pasvalys Executive Committee. At the beginning of the meeting, the Executive Committee Chairman told the priests about the economic attainments of the republic, and at the end of his talk, he began to warn that there be no prayers for Lithuania in the churches February 16. This would be an anti-Soviet excess, just like the placing of flowers at the graves and monuments of freedom-fighters.
The Associate Pastor of Pasvalys, Father Algimantas Petkunas, explained to the chairman that this year, Soviet officials with their various interdicts, had publicized February 16 as never before. As for praying for one's country in church, the law not only did not forbid it, but even required it.
On February 16, in Pasvalys, people placed flowers at the monument of Petras Vileišis, signer of the Declaration of Independence.
On February 1,1988, priests and Lutheran pastors of the Rayon were summoned to the Šilutė Rayon Executive Committee. The Chairman of the Executive Committee read the clergy a lecture sent by Commissioner for Religious Affairs Petras Anilionis, in which, quoting the records of Stalin-era interrogations, an attempt was made to denigrate Bishops Vincentas Borisevičius and Pranciškus Ramanauskas.
Father Zenonas Degutis asked that lecturers in the future not give such talks, because today everyone knows, even from official sources, how "statements" were obtained in the days of Stalin.
The Rayon Executive Committee Chairman warned the priests that on February 16, there be no commemoration of the holiday in churches. The priests replied, "Independent Lithuania is a historical fact, and its commemoration cannot be considered either a calumny or an anti-Soviet excess."
In the middle of March 1988, members of rayon parish committees were summoned to Prienai for a meeting with Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis. In the beginning, those assembled were shown the film, Catholics in the Soviet Union, which Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis later commented on himself.
The Commissioner tried to show that in the Soviet Union, there is wonderful freedom of religion. The faithful asked if there is such wonderful freedom, then why are there priests in prison? Anilionis explained that the priests themselves did not wish to leave prison. "Even if they threw them and all their junk out of prison, they themselves would bring it right back!"
Allegedly, in prison they are more useful to foreign reactionaries.
To the question why there are so many churches closed in Lithuania, the Commissioner replied that, "Only those were closed in which bandits concealed weapons."
In his speech, Anilionis ridiculed Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius of Kaišaidorys, accusing him of disregarding the Soviet government and not attending meetings with government representatives. "The Soviet government will not pay attention to such bishops," the Commissioner tried to frighten his listeners.
The Commissioner was not comforted by the fact that in Lithuania, according to him, there are many unmarried women masquerading as nuns. "They try to obtain employment at churches, and then drag the priests into anti-Soviet activities," Anilionis said, offering as an example Nijolė Sadūnaitė, the laundress at the parish of Paberžė, and the organist at Žarėnai-Latveliai, Regina Teresiūtė.
The Commissioner demanded that church committees not hire such as those mentioned, but would hire little old ladies locally for work in church. It is Anilionis's conviction that local little old ladies are more suitable for this.
On March 21, 1988, members of rayon parish committees were summoned to the motion picture theater in Tauragė for a meeting with Religious Affairs Commissioner, Petras Anilionis. At the beginning of the meeting, a film, Catholics in the Soviet Union, was shown. Anilionis, commenting on the film shown, tried to convince his listeners, "Although religion is incompatible with Communist morality, freedom of worship is fully guaranteed to believers in the Soviet Union."
Only it is too bad that priests, called extremists by the Commissioner, abuse that freedom. As an example, he mentioned three sermons given by Father Jonas Kauneckas during a religious festival of Mary at the Calvary of the Lowlanders in 1987, in which, according to Anilionis, the priest said nothing about Mary, but simply incited the faithful not to accept Communist ideology.
"Such priests will not be allowed to give sermons at the Calvary of the Lowlanders during other big festivals. And if Father Kauneckas does not stop giving such sermons, the church of Skaudvilė will be closed. The parish council of Skaudvilė should reprove Father Kauneckas, and not allow him to give anti-Soviet sermons," Anilionis argued.
One of the women in the auditorium asked the speaker, "If there is so much religious freedom, then why are teachers not allowed to go to church openly and to participate in services?"
"Aren't you being too zealous? If you wish to know, go and inquire at the Department of Education," the annoyed Commissioner shot back.
Similar answers were given to all the questions submitted by the faithful.
On March 24,1988, the members of the committees of twenty of city and rayon religious associations were summoned to the Offices of the Šiauliai City Executive Committee.
Participating in the meeting was Vice Commissioner Juozėnas of the Council for Religious Affairs, Šiauliai City Executive Committee Vice Chairman Gaurilčikienė, and the Šiauliai Rayon Executive Committee Vice Chairman. Vice Commissioner Juozėnas expressed annoyance because in Lithuania, priests are showing up who, in his words, use the Church for political purposes.
As an example, he used the churches of St. Ann and St. Nicholas in Vilnius, and St. George in Šiauliai. Juozėnas particularly condemned the Voice of America and other programs for announcing in advance of February 16 in which churches and at what times there would be services for the homeland. He faulted Father Kazimieras Gražulis, Associate Pastor of the Church of St. George in the City of Šiauliai, of conducting services for Lithuania and for the sermons which were delivered on that occasion.
"You are the real overseers of the Church," Juozėnas told the church committee members, "and you are obliged to see everything and know everything which takes place in your churches. Do not think that we cannot, or do not have the right, of putting priests like Gražulis in prison; we have, but we are waiting for them to straighten out. We know how to take care of disobedient priests," Juozėnas explained. "You yourselves know what happened to Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius. Now they can do nothing!"
Vice Commissioner Juozėnas demanded that committee members keep track of the priests, watching how they spend money, and he emphasized that the necessary sum must be allotted to the Peace Fund.
After the main presentation, questions were taken. J. Šileikis asked, "Surely, we Lithuanians are not forbidden to love our homeland and to pray for it?"
Not receiving a reply, Šileikis continued, "February 16, after participating in services for the country, we carried flowers to the graves of veterans who died in the wars of independence. At the seminary, about 20 KGB agents were on guard, photographing everyone who came to the cemetery. After placing our flowers and praying, we dispersed.
"But what did the Soviet press report? There was a plethora of libellous articles concerning visitors to the cemetery February 16. Lithuania is a Catholic country, the Land of Crosses. Down through the centuries, it has been oppressed by one or the other occupant, but always the churches operated and no one demolished crosses. But when the Soviets came in, many churches were turned into warehouses and concert halls, priests were arrested en masse, and many artistic crosses were vandalized. So in connection with restructuting, perhaps it now possible to begin restoring the crosses which were destroyed. Is it permitted to erect a cross in one's own yard?" asked Šileikis.
The reply was negative. When someone from the auditorium asked if a religious newspaper or magazine would some day be published, Juozėnas replied very vaguely, explaining that quite a bit of time could go by before they were allowed to have a newspaper.
To the question whether the Cathedral of Vilnius would be returned, and whether churches might be erected in the new cities such as Naujoji Akmenė and Elektrėnai, Juozėnas replied in the negative.
Asked when Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius of the Archdiocese of Vilnius would finally be able to resume his See and carry out his pastoral functions without interference, Vice Commissioner Juozėnas tried to explain that the government is deciding this question, and that he himself had gone to see Bishop Steponavičius. But the whole problem was that the bishop refuses to change his attitude. At that point, the conversation broke off, Juozėnas explained. Then and there, he expressed the hope that His Excellency, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, would soon have to give up his direct duties because of old age, and then, the affairs of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, in his opinion, would take a turn for the better.
"After consultation with the bishops, one of them should be sent to Vilnius, and this question would be solved," Vice Commissioner Juozėnas of the Council for Religious Affairs ended his talk.
On September 10, 1987, the Alytus Rayon newspaper Communist Tomorrow printed an article by S. Kamarauskas, entitled, "Why Does Father Antanas Gražulis Sow Lies?"
In the article, Father Gražulis is accused of violating Soviet law, and of inciting anti-Soviet attitudes. The aforesaid article evoked resentment among the faithful of Alytus.
On September 19, they sent a letter to editors of the Rayon newspaper, Communist Tomorrow. In the letter, they wrote,
"... You write that Father Gražulis breaks Soviet law. Why did you not give specific examples? Where, when and what laws did he break? Is the proclaiming of truth in public a denigration of one's life?
"We the faithful of the parish of Alytus know Father Gražulis as a good and exemplary priest. We never heard him practicing demogogery in his sermons, or ridiculing material progress; on the contrary, Father urges people to make a better life, but just not to forget that all man possesses is just a means of reaching eternity.
"We agree when Father Gražulis advises parents not to allow their children to join atheistic organizations. Do atheists advise their children to go to church and to pray each day?
"We, the faithful, demand that the editor recall the aforesaid article," the people of Alytus end their statement. The letter was signed by 1609 of the faithful.
The December 3-9,1987 issue of the newspaper Gimtasis kraštas (Native Land) published an item called, "Concerning the Incident in Rokiškis." A completely analogical incident took place in the cemetery of Alytus. After the announcement was made October 25 in the church in Alytus II, concerning the
A 1985 procession in the parish of Alytus II.
All Souls' commemoration, and its hour which, incidentally, did not conflict with the civil government's ceremony, and so could not interfere with anybody, the priests were repeatedly summoned to the Rayon Executive Committee, there having "consulted" with officials, to receive the appropriate permit.
When the Associate Pastor, Father Antanas Gražulis, explained that according to the Regulations for Religious Associations, no special permit was needed for ceremonies in the cemetery, the Director of the Financial Section began visiting the rectory with a group of female staff members. At the time, he was substituting for the City Executive Committee Vice Chairman, A. Makštutis.
The Director of the Financial Section did not conceal his anger when he failed several times to find Father Gražulis at home. In various city organizations, word was passed along that the priests were doing something illegal.
On November 1, when the priests and faithful arrived at the cemetery, loud music was being played over amplifiers, and only after repeated requests by a priest and faithful, it was turned down. A large group of militia and security police were summoned to the cemetery where they demonstratively photographed the participants in the ceremonies, and the priests. When the procession had gone some distance from the main gates, the music was turned on again at full volume.
After All Souls', Executive Committee Vice Chairman Makštutis tried by telephone to summon Father Gražulis to the Executive Committee to explain himself regarding the "transgression" which had been perpetrated. Makštutis alleged that a procession was organized in the cemetery (a cross and two mourning banners were carried as required by the Funeral Missal published with government permission), but for processions, a permit from the Executive Committee is necessary.
Father Gražulis, having explained that the Regulations for Religious Associations require no special permission of government officials for religious ceremonies in the church, churchyard, or cemetery, and make no exceptions for processions, refused to go for a routine government scare.
So the situation is the same as that in Rokiškis, only in Alytus, no one apologized to the priests and none of the government officials was disciplined for interfering with religious ceremonies.
It is stranger still that even the official publication of the republic, Tiesa, joined in this demand by local officials to cancel religious services in the cemetery. On the eve of November 1, it reprinted from the Alytus Rayon newspaper, Communist Tomorrrow, an article by S. Kamarauskas, entitled, "Why Does Father Antanas Gražulis Sow Lies?", the groundlessness of which 1,609 faithful of the parish of Alytus II testified to in their petition to agencies.
This is the eighth year that on the thirteenth of each month, the faithful assembled at the shrine of Šiluva from all over Lithuania, praying to Mary and asking her intercession. February 13,1988, was special. A group of priests and laity, in a special announcement which was carried even over foreign radio, urged the faithful at the Shrine of Šiluva to pray for Lithuania, commemorating the seventieth anniversary of Lithuanian Independence.
The Vilnius and Rayon KGB warned the priests of Šiluva in advance, and sternly demanded that there "not be any kind of excesses".
On February 12, the drivers of buses in operation informed passengers that from noon February 12, until after noon February 13, neither buses nor taxes would be travelling to Šiluva. And so for a whole day, not a single bus travelled to Šiluva. Private automobiles were not prevented from driving to
Šiluva, travellers who had purchased advanced tickets had their money refunded.
On February 13, the roads to Šiluva were full of pedestrians. For the principal Mass, the church was already full of the faithful, with about 2,000 worshippers assembled. Five priests concelebrated Mass, and about 1,200 of the faithful received Holy Communion.
After the solemn services - adoration and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament - the whole church sang the national anthem. Leaving church, the worshippers praying the rosary went in orderly ranks toward the chapel. In the chapel, Mass was offered for Lithuania, and a sermon on the theme of the jubilee was preached. After services, the national anthem and "Lietuva brangi" ("Beloved Lithuania"), were sung.
Plain clothes security police, militia and auxiliary police wearing red arm bands, of whom so many were brought in from Vilnius and other areas February 13, videotaped the asssembled worshippers, but did not interfere in the services.
On February 16, 1988, the sacristans of the Cathedral of Telšiai, the young men Gediminas Numgaudis and Egidijus Gricius, were getting ready to place flowers on the graves of those tortured to death in the Forest of Rainiai. At the gates of the old city cemetery, security police in mufti detained them without presenting any identification. Some time later, militiamen showed up and drove them to the Telšiai City Police Department, falsely accusing them of resisting officials by using physical force, and sentenced them to fifteen days in jail.
Numgaudis and Gricius, protesting against the illegal actions of the government officials, proclaimed a hunger strike starting February 17, and on February 19, they wrote protests to the procurator and the militia chief of the City of Telšiai.
On February 10, 1988, Auto Inspector Kazlauskas showed up at the home of Regina Teresiūtė, residing at Kelmė, Laisvės 11, and told her to drive in her own automobile to the Internal Affairs Department in Kelmė, ostensibly for a check of her driver's license.
Miss Teresiūtė refused to listen to the inspector, arguing that she had not broken any traffic laws and if, for unknown reasons, auto inspection staff were displeased with her trip, they should have stopped her on the way.
Inspector Kazlauskas angrily stated that if Miss Teresiūtė would not go of her own free will, she would be taken by force. The front license plate was removed from Miss Teresiūtė's automobile, on the pretext that her car was in disrepair, and she could not drive it.
On February 14, 1988, District Chairman Valdemaras Meiliulis and an agent of the militia, came to the rectory of Žarėnai-Latveliai (Šiauliai Rayon), to look for Regina Teresiūtė. They accused Miss Teresiūtė of living unregistered and thus, breaking passport rules.
Miss Teresiūtė explained that she did not live at that address, but only worked there. The officials demanded that the young woman be sure to come to the Šakynai District Executive Committee, February 16. Miss Teresiūtė categorically refused to go, and explained that February 16 is the national holiday, and that day, she really could not come. If necessary, she would come a day later.
The officials were not pleased with such a reply. That same day, at about 5:00 P.M., District Chairman Meiliulis, Šiauliai Auto Inspection Chief Daknys and one other militiaman, called on Miss Teresiūtė at the rectory. They ordered Miss Teresiūtė to go to the Internal Affairs Department of Kelmė immediately.
Miss Teresiūtė again categorically refused to go anywhere with them. That day, officials came to the rectory on the same business for a third time at about 8:00 P.M. This time, they did not find Miss Teresiūtė.
On February 15, 1988, in Telšiai, Auto Inspection detained Miss Teresiūtė, as she was riding in a small automobile together with the pastor of the parish of Žarėnai-Latveliai, Father Algirdas Pakamanis, and forced her to go to the Telšiai Militia Department. Here, Miss Teresiūtė's driver's license and Father Pakamanis's automobile registration from the Telšiai Militia Department were taken away.
They were taken by force to the Kelmė Internal Affairs Department. There, Miss Teresiūtė was sent from one office to another, where militia officials promised to return her driver's license and the license plate which had been removed, if only she would agree to cooperate with the KGB. Miss Teresiūtė categorically refused. She also refused to write an explanation. "It's not my fault that February 15 is followed by the 16th and not the 17th, for which it was necessary to take away my license plate and license. Next year, I would suggest that in general, February 16 be stricken from the calendar, if it gives you so much unease," Miss Teresiūtė said.
Miss Teresiūtė was released from the Militia Department at about 6:00
Viduklė (Raseiniai Rayon)
On the evening of January 26,1988, a group of priests and faithful of one mind with Father Alfonsas Svarinskas gathered in the church of Viduklė for the traditional annual day of prayer for imprisoned priests and other prisoners of conscience. It is the fifth year of Father Svarinskas' incarceration or, as he says, "the training sent by God". (As of August 1, 1988, Father Svarinskas was released from camp on condition that he leave Lithuania. On August 23,1988, he arrived in West Germany. - Trans. Note)
For the fifth year, on a quiet January evening, we made the Way of the Cross and Holy Mass was offered. Turning to the Sacrifice of Christ, we thanked the Most High for the fact that one or another from our midst was allowed not by force, but out of his own sincere will, to offer himself and to carry the cross to Golgotha for awhile. That the cross is carried with good will, the general public of Lithuania has understood upon seeing the documentary film Who Are You, Father Svarinskas? Seeing the film, even people of inimical beliefs are surprised: "What is this fault of the priest?" In film theaters, during showings, applause was often heard in support of Father Svarinskas.
One thing is clear. So long as there are priests and laity willing to sacrifice themselves for Church and country, so long will the ideals of faith, morality, and freedom in our nation not be destroyed.
On Sunday, February 21, 1988, after High Mass at the Kaunas Cathedral, where a commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Msgr. Adomas Jakštas-Dambrauskas had taken place, a large group of residents of Kaunas and of faithful who had come from elsewhere, assembled at the grave of Msgr. Jakštas-Dambrauskas, located in the cathedral's outer wall.
The, Angelus, Lietuva Brangi, and the national anthem were sung. Verses about the history and occupation of the country, the post-war genocide, and the spiritual and external oppression met with applause. Partipants were filmed by more than one movie camera and many chekists in mufti watched.
When the little group of worshippers turned into Vilnius Street, it was attacked by three or four KGB agents who seized the young Gintas Sakavičius, residing in Kapčiamiestis, and dragged him to the Požėla Rayon Militia Department, located at the next intersection. The handful of the faithful who witnessed the incident, angered by the behavior of the KGB, followed to demand that the unjustly detained young man be released as soon as possible. All testified that Sakavičius had done nothing wrong, but that he had been seized by some sort of hooligans (you can't call them anything else).
To the energetic demands of those assembled, the militiamen responded with questions whether they were not Sakavičius's relatives and friends, where they were from, etc. The people replied that it was completely immaterial. They had seen that the young man had been arrested for no reason at all, and stated that they would not disperse until he was released.
Militia Chief Šatkauskas told all of them to wait in the street. After several dozen minutes, Sakavičius was released.
Viduklė (Raseiniai Rayon)
On June 27,1987, in the territory of the parish of Viduklė, at the roadside near a small forest, believers erected a wooden cross with the inscription, "In Memory of the 600 Year Jubilee of the Nation's Baptism."
On June 28, the people devoutly visited the cross, prayed before it, and sang hymns. The night of June 29, Rayon KGB, led by Petras Stirba, Manager of the Prysmantis Collective Farm, knocked the cross down.
Rudamina (Lazdijai Rayon)
On March 19, 1988, in the church of Rudamina, the Festival of St. Joseph was taking place, together with the Lenten retreat. Mass was being offered for the late Father Juozas Zdebskis, former pastor of the parish, on the occasion of his feast day.
That day, a little group of believing youth from Vilnius, Kaunas, Prienai and elsewhere, were travelling to the services taking place in Rudamina. The militia met those coming from Lazdijai and from Šeštokiai. The officials deceitfully argued that Rudamina is in the border-zone, and anyone wishing to enter needed a permit.
The second version of the lie was that military exercises were taking place in Rudamina, so entry was forbidden. That day, the militia would not allow either people in vehicles nor those travelling on foot, to pass. The officials checked even scheduled buses. From them, Militia Chief Grovis and Junior Sergeant Verchensko removed Robertas Grigas, Marytė Gudaitytė and other active representatives of the Catholic youth.
The approach to Rudamina was opened only after services in church were over.