The funeral of the late pastor of the parish in Mielagėnai, the Rev. Vincentas Miškinis, was held on October 30, 1973. A great number of people participated in the rites. Among them was [Miss] Albina Meškėnaitė, the director of the pharmacy in Ignalina, and Dr. [Miss] Vitalija Juzėnaitė, the director of the local medical laboratory.
Meškėnaitė had come to the pharmacy in Mielagėnai, which was under her supervision, on business. She found the store closed since the local pharmacist, even though she was a Russian, had gone to the funeral—everyone is interested in the burial rites of a priest.
Present on this occasion for reasons of surveillance were [Mrs.] Pivoriūnienė, an official from the Ignalina Bureau of Vital Statistics and [Mrs.] Karoliūnienė, the representative of the rayon executive committee. They later reported the presence of Meškėnaitė and Juzėnaitė at the funeral.
On the following day, [Mrs.] Gaigalienė, the chief physician at Ignalina Hospital, and Meškėnaitė, the director of the pharmacy, were ordered to appear before the IgnalinaRayon Executive Committee. Meškėnaitė was ordered to submit a written explanation. She wrote that her job had necessitated a visit to the pharmacy at Mielagenai, but she made no mention of the funeral. Her explanation was considered unsatisfactory, and the government officials ordered her to rewrite it. They threatened to report her to the Pharmacy Board if she would refuse to do so, which in fact was done.
[Mrs.] Gudukienė, chairwoman of the rayon executive committee shouted at her that persons in leadership positions who attend funerals of priests bring shame on all. The chairwoman inquired what Meškėnaitė would be doing in the future: whether in matters of ideology she would work with them or against them? Meškėnaitė was reproached for neglecting to nurture the spirit of Communism in her subordinates and for neglecting the political aspects of her position. As for leaders whose ideological views are opposed to those of the executive committee— they are unfit for their posts.
That same day, that is, November 1, Dr. Gaigalienė also called Dr. V. Juzėnaitė into her office and instructed her to write an explanation. In reply to the question whether she would give up her religious superstitions in the future, Dr. Juzėnaitė answered in the negative. Dr. Gaigalienė then suggested that she look for work in another rayon, threatening to create intolerable working conditions for her. She also threatened Dr. Juzėnaitė with the loss of her secondary position. (Dr. Juzėnaitė has a part-time position in the epidemiologic sanatorium of Ignalina.)
On November 2, summoning Dr. Juzėnaitė into his office, Dr. Andriuška, the chief physician of the epidemiologic sanatorium once again ordered her to present a written explanation.
A Party meeting of the leaders of the rayon executive committee was called at Ignalina Hospital on November 1, in order to discuss how to punish pharmacy Director Meškėnaitė and laboratory Director Dr. Juzėnaitė.
On November 13, Pharmacy Board Deputy Chairman Sakalauskas arrived at the Ignalina pharmacy and announced that the services of pharmacy Director A. Meškėnaitė were being terminated and that she was being denied the right to work in Ignalina Rayon even as an ordinary pharmacist. Sakalauskas did not even bother to listen to Meškėnaitė's side of the story.
Having no one to replace Dr. Juzėnaitė, who was in fact a most conscientious worker, the committeemen contented themselves with posting an official reprimand upon the bulletin board.
Toward the end of 1973 Vladimiras Prokopivas, a Ukrainian Catholic priest residing in Vilnius was arrested in Lvov. After his arrest, he was reportedly transported to the Kiev Psychiatric Hospital.
It turns out that Ukrainian Catholics in the area of Lvov had gathered 1,200 signatures on a petition requesting that, on the basis of laws in effect in the USSR, they be allowed to reopen the Catholic church. Father Prokopivas had accompanied the persons presenting the petition to Moscow. Upon his return to Vilnius, he found that his apartment, located at 13 Milda St., Apt. 3, had been searched. The Ukrainians who had taken the petition to Moscow suffered a similar fate.
The security police also arrested another Ukrainian priest, Father Mickevičius, who had worked in the city of Stry. Both priests had protested more than once that the security police have been confiscating the Blessed Sacrament, which was being secretly kept in the homes of the faithful.
The Rev. V. Prokopivas was born in the Carpathians in 1914. He received a degree in theology in Rome. He later carried out priestly duties in the Ukraine, was banished to Kazakhstan, and served as a missionary in Akhmolinsk. With the start of the systematic arrests of the clergy, he went to Lithuania, where, working as a laborer, he was able to serve the faithful of Vilnius and of the Ukraine only in secret.
Father Prokopivas is a holy and self-sacrificing man.
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