At the secondary school in Pabaiskas, a conference on nurturing the spirit of internationalism was organized for the teachers in early March, 1973. Vladas Vembrė, head of the department of education for Ukmergė Rayon came to the conference. Principal [Mrs.] E. Stasiukaitienė made a mention of churchgoing pupils, complaining, "Previously it was easier to deal with students' church attendance. The new minister of the cult, however, is a most authoritative figure, and he knows how to attract everyone; but most importantly, in his sermons he "stresses the nationalistic question."
The head of the department of education said that it is important to pay great attention to the question of nationalism, since many pupils are causing incidents. Several occurred this year at the schools within Jurbarkas Rayon on February 16: one secretary of the Young Communist League distributed anti-Soviet proclamations, and other students raised the tricolor flag [that of independent Lithuania].
At the end of May, during the commencement exercises, school Principal E. Stasiukaitienė announced publicly that seventh-class student [Miss] Valė Amankavičiūtė had had her conduct mark lowered for attending church.
On June 29, 1973, the pastor of Pabaiskas, the Rev. V. Ramanauskas, was summoned before the Ukmergė Rayon Executive Committee for organizing on June 14 a group of volunteers to clean the church. The pastor had been denounced to the rayon authorities by [Mrs.] Boškevičienė, Party secretary of the Pabaiskas State Farm, and by the comptroller of Girdžiai. The chairman of the executive committee characterized the pastor as being the worst in therayon because he was being reprimanded for the third time in two years. The pastor was told that the people earn his board for him, whereas he was interfering with their work. On account of the pastor's fault, three women had had their bonuses canceled (It later became apparent that these women had been assigned five days for weeding the gardens, which chore they could have finished in one day. Having finished the work at the farm, they therefore came to assist in the cleaning of the church.). The pastor told the committee that if the Ukmergė authorities were displeased with him they could request to have him transferred. The chairman replied that if they were to transfer him elsewhere, he would only cause trouble for others. At that point the pastor requested the chairman to hurry up and finish this discussion since it was the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul.
"What feast day?" shouted the official, actually jumping from his place, "I don't want to hear about it! It's haying time, and not a holiday! If the bishop ordered you to celebrate it, then we'll have to teach that bishop a lesson too!"
The pastor was then reminded of his other offenses: on Easter Day he had taken up a collection in church and ten children had taken part in the procession, etc.
About a month later, even the security officials upbraided the pastor of the parish in Pabaiskas for having organized the volunteer help. Moreover, they wanted to know where the people were getting their prayer books and catechisms, and who was typing their hymnals.
On October 5 the chairmen and treasurers of the parochial committees of the rayonwere summoned before the Ukmergė Rayon Executive Committee. They were lectured on the laws dealing with cults and reminded of their duty to keep church money away from the pastor. The officials did not forget to remind them several times of the great "offense" committed by the pastor of the parish in Pabaiskas—the organization of a group of volunteers to scrub the floor, a job which had required all of four hours.
THE ARCHDIOCESE OF PANEVĖŽYS
In July, 1972, the pastor of the parish in Salos, the Rev. Petras Nykštus, was accused of preparing children for their First Communion. On August 24, 1972, Father Nykštus was fined fifty rubles by the administrative commission of the Rokiškis Rayon Executive Committee. Below are presented several statements bearing witness to the self-will of teachers and various officials with regard to the faithful:
"To: The ecclesiastical administrator of the dioceses
of Kaišaidorys and Panevėžys
A Petition from the Faithftd of the Parish in Salos
in Rokiškis R a y o n
"We Catholics, Honorable Administrator, are well a-ware, and whenever we read the Soviet press we find it written that it is not permissible to assault or insult people. Those who do so are punished. Soviet laws give us believers complete freedom in matters of conscience and faith. Why, then, did [Mrs.] Didžgalvienė, a teacher from Salos; Principal Augulis; Steponavičius, principal of the agricultural school in Salos; and locality chairman Raugalienė without cause assault and accuse our pastor of teaching our children in church? Teacher Didžgalvienė and locality chairman Raugalienė went to the church to see for themselves which children were coming to church. Teacher Didžgalvienė, in fact, made Gradeckas' daughter go home. The teacher told her that children are not permitted to go to church. Frightened, the girl ran home, leaving her book in church. She had been afraid to pick it up in the teacher's presence.
"Augulis, principal of the school in Salos; Steponavičius, principal of the agricultural school; and locality chairman Raugalienė even visited the homes of the children who go to church. Taking some children without their parents' knowledge, with only the chairwoman and the principal of the agricultural school present, Principal Augulis ordered the children to write statements denouncing the pastor. The frightened children wrote exactly what Augulis dictated to them. When we parents discovered how wrongly the teachers had acted, we asked the children what they had written and why they had written what was not true? Then the children replied, 'We don't know. What the principal said—that's what we wrote. We were afraid that he might scold us.'
"Two of the children were actually given an already written statement denouncing the pastor. The children were simply told to sign it. Fearing their teachers, they signed. How can teachers act so unjustly? They dictate statements to the children and order them to write down their words. Later, taking these statements from the children, they filed a complaint with the Rokiškis Rayon authorities charging our pastor with the teaching of our children. The rayon authorities believe this unjust accusation by the teachers and are starting proceedings against the pastor.
"We ourselves taught our children their prayers and the entire contents of the catechism, and when the children had learned everything, then we went to the pastor and asked him to test, to question them in order to determine how knowledgeable they were and whether they could be allowed to go to confession and Holy Communion. We have already written to the rayon authorities and to the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs in Vilnius, stating that we parents have taught our children ourselves. But they do not believe us parents, who have taught our children ourselves, and are taking the pastor to court. Those parents whose children, at the insistence of their teachers, wrote denouncements against the pastor, have appealed a second time to the rayon authorities, informing them how matters stood and asking that the teachers be admonished; but everything remains the same.
"If teachers have the right to monitor what goes on in church, to count how many adults and children are present in church, then perhaps, Administrator, the priests will soon be setting foot into the schools? The teachers of Salos are already going to church and concerning themselves with the religious affairs of our children. If the priests are not allowed to enter a school, then we do not agree to the interference by the teachers of Salos in our matters of conscience.
"Honored Administrator, please help us Catholic parents so that, because of our children, our pastor would not be unjustly accused of teaching our children and punished. We parents know better than the teachers who it was that taught our children. The teachers are accusing us parents also, saying that we haven't the right to take our children to church.
"If you, Administrator, cannot help us in this matter, then please inform us where we should direct our appeal. We have once more written and will send another petition to the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs.
Salos, July 27, 1972"
The signatures of ten parents
On August 27, 1973, ten parishioners from the parish in Salos sent a similar petition to the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs, K. Tumėnas. The statement ends with the request: "We ask you, Commissioner, to keep teacher Didžgalvienė and Principal Augulis from harassing our children for attending church, not only in church, but also in school, for the children are afraid that the teachers will scold and punish them. Otherwise we shall be unable to send our children to the school in Salos."
Trying to defend their children from the terrorization, and also the pastor of their parish, the believers wrote a series of petitions to the officials of the rayon and the Council for Religious Affairs.
Albinas Jakubonis wrote the following to the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs: "While I was at work and my wife was ill, the principal of the school in Salos came to my home and, bidding my daughter to go to another room, told her to write a denunciation against the pastor. The principal dictated and my daughter wrote down his words. I therefore request that you consider invalid what my daughter wrote against the pastor."
[Mrs.] Petrulienė wrote: "I taught my child all his prayers and the contents of the catechism myself... We have rights over our children, and they go where we take them. We also have the freedom of conscience to go to church, but why don't the teachers permit this? Why do they monitor who goes to church? The priests don't go into a school and chase the children out."
Similar complaints were written by Stasys Gradeckas, [Mrs.] Elena Matiukienė, [Mrs.] Zose Didžgalvienė, and other believers. All of them complained that their children are being persecuted, that teachers are interfering in matters outside their field of competence, and that the pastor is being prosecuted unlawfully because they had taught their children themselves, and he had merely tested them.
The believers of Salos informed the ecclesiastical administrator of the dioceses of Kaišiadorys and Panevėžys, and the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs about how the faithful went to the trial of Father Nykš-tus, and how the Chairman of the RokiškisRayon Executive Committee had upbraided them.
[Miss] Elena Neniškaitė, a resident of Urliai Village, wrote the following to K. Tumėnas: "On August 24, 1972, I went to the People's Court of Rokiškis to see how the teachers of Salos were going to try our pastor. With me went [Miss] Julė Dambrauskaitė. In court, we were told that the pastor was being tried at the rayon office but that we would not be permitted inside because it would be a closed session. We therefore went to see the rayonchairman to ask why our pastor was on trial, and why they were calling no witnesses, why they were putting their trust in the teachers? The chairman did not answer our question, but angrily denounced the pastor and told us to leave. We then told him that we were believers and that we wished to know what our pastor was being tried for. The chairman did not answer our question but only shouted angrily at us, 'It's only from the believers that all the hooligans come from!' This comment by the rayonchairman offended me deeply. Never before in my life had I heard such a hurtful insult. I do not understand why it is so in Salos. I thought that teacher Didžgalvienė and Principal Augulis were being arbitrary in harassing the children and at the same time the believers, but here even the rayon chairman does likewise. Were teacher Didžgalvienė and Principal Augulis right to insult and to scandalize so many believers? They walk around with heads held high while they confer upon believers the 'honorable' title of 'hooligan.' Can we, the faithful thank them for such an epithet?"
In her declaration to K. Tumėnas Julija Dambrauskaitė wrote: "At the rayon office they told us that the pastor needs to be punished. But who will punish teacher Didžgalvienė and Principal Augulis?... Commissioner, I have been a believer all my life. I even worked for the bourgeoisie for seven years where I saw and heard all kinds of things, but the bourgeoise never said such words to me as the chairman did."