To: — Commissioner for Religious Affairs K. Tumėnas
— Vice-Chairman of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee J. Urbonas A Statement from:
The Faithful of the Žalioji Catholic Parish of the Rumokai Experimental Farm in Klausučiai.
In writing this statement, we wish to express our great outrage at the conversion of our church, located in Žalioji, into a mill following the departure from Žalioji of the Commissioner for Religious Affairs on June 30, 1977. To our knowledge, that is a deliberate violation of our rights. The mill began to operate very soon after you left. We all thought that this was done at your direction. We will not yield. Return our church. It belongs to no one but us, and we wish not to grind grain there, but to pray after honest work. We remind you that as early as 1948, it was registered in Vilnius by Religious Affairs Commissioner B. Pušinis not as a farm building, but as a church. Insurance and other payments were made on it as a church. An agreement signed in 1948 with the VilkaviškisRayon also attests to the fact that it is a church with a steeple. Can what has been legally acknowledged and confirmed thus be denied? Law must remain law, an agreement an agreement. It is painful to see all this belittled. We, the believers of the Žalioji Catholic parish, consider and will continue to consider any action on the part of atheists against our former house of prayer, a trampling of basic rights. Do not delay, but quickly return our church to us.
The Faithful of the Žalioji Catholic Parish
from the Rumokai Experimental Farm in Klausučiai.
(Signed by 136 persons)
August 15, 1977
On September 11, 1977, the Commissioner for Religious Affairs replied to this statement, indicating that the statement was sent for consideration to the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee. The people were greatly outraged by the action of K. Tumėnas, who sent the complaint for consideration to the offending party.
To: Religious Affairs Commissioner K. Tumėnas
A statement from:
The Faithful of the Žalioji Catholic parish from the "Švyturys" State Farm
The Catholic parish church of Žalioji, where we used to pray, was illegally closed on 1963. We support the just demands of the faithful of Žalioji in recovering their church, which was confiscated by force. We were deeply anguished by its conversion into a mill. We consider this action a violation of our basic rights and even an attempt against the freedom of conscience to pray in that house of worship which has belonged to us since postwar years. It was recognized in 1948 by both Vilnius and the Vilkaviškis Rayon to be not a farm building but a church, and insurance and other payments were continually made on a church.
Therefore, we demand the following: return the Žalioji church to us and do not hinder our work and prayer. It belongs to us alone.
July 27, 1977
Signed by eighty believers of the Žalioji Catholic parish from the Švyturys state farm in the villages of Šukliai and Gustaičiai.
On September 23, 1977, Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee Vice-Chairman J. Urbonas was visited by the following believers of the Žalioji parish regarding the return of the church: B. Mickevičius, J. Nešukaitis, B. Kardauskas, (Mrs) K. Būbnaitienė, (Mrs) T. Kaminskienė and (Mrs) A. Lenkienė. Urbonas said that the believers' statement was inaccurate. The faithful demanded that J. Urbonas indicate precisely what is inaccurate in the statement. The Vice-Chairman took a "document" addressed in pencil in a corner to former Vilkaviškis RayonVice-Chairman Rogovas, and told them to read about the closing of the church. Believers had already visited Urbonas and had been to Vilnius countless times demanding to see the "document" which Urbonas now himself offered to show them.
"And why didn't you give it to us earlier when we asked?" inquired (Mrs) T. Kaminskienė.
"It had been misplaced somewhere. I just now found it," the Vice-Chairman said in excuse.
Commissioner K. Tumėnas had come to the Žalioji parish and suggested to the people that they purchase or rent a building somewhere. Now, when Tumėnas' words were mentioned to the Vice-Chairman, Užbonas protested that nothing would come of it. The former church was in an unsuitable location and they needed it as a mill; therefore, he would certainly not re-open the church.
Bronius Mickevičius stated that they would not remain silent but would appeal higher up. The Vice-Chairman made no reaction to this statement. The believers explained that the mill established in the church is in an inconvenient location, and moreover, it only operates four hours per week. What must people do, who work while the "mill" is operating? Kardauskas explained that people take grain elsewhere for grinding. Then the Vice-Chairman retorted: "I don't care where you take it!"
On September 27, 1977, Vikaviškis Rayon Executive Committee Vice-Chairman J. Urbonas was again visited by a delegation of Žalioji parish believers (J. Nešukaitis, J. Mickevičius, Gudaitis, (Mrs) K. Būbnaitienė). The Vice-Chairman stated sharply: "Don't come to us, we will not re-open the church!"
To: Secretary of the Lithuanian SSR Communist Party
Central Committee, Petras Griškevičius. A statement from: The Faithful of the Catholic Parish of Žalioji
For several months, we have been reading in newspapers, and hearing on the radio, that, once the new Constitution is adopted, Soviet citizens will have an even stronger guarantee of all rights, among them the freedom of religious practice.
Since everything in the Vilkaviškis Rayon, and in particular here, the Žalioji parish, is done contrary to what is written in the draft Constitution, we thus turn to you.
Our church was illegally closed in 1963 by Vice-Chairman of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee, Stasys Rogovas, and since then we have not had a place to pray. We were then convinced that there is no freedom of conscience here. But we heard more and more frequently in the press and on the radio that every citizen here has the right to believe or not believe, pray or not pray, we turned to Vice-Chairman J. Urbonas of the VilkaviškisRayon and to Religious Affairs Commissioner K. Tumėnas, but instead of redressing the wrong done us, they berated us and stated that the Žalioji parish church would not be re-opened and the parish would not be registered. To our anguish and the shame of government officials, following the June 30th visit of the Religious Affairs Commissioner to our church, the interior of the church was converted into a mill after several days of intensive work. Since we have turned everywhere and all governmerit representatives have deceived us and did not re-open the church, this time we turn to you, the person most able to help us: Re-open the Žalioji church and parish; otherwise let it be written in the new Lithuanian SSR Constitution that the citizens of the Lithuanian SSR are not allowed to practice religious rites.
Žalioji, Vilkaviškis Rayon September 30, 1977
This statement was signed by thirty persons who belong to the Žalioji Catholic parish religious community. Many have won awards for outstanding work at the Rumokai Experimental Farm. They all feel it their duty to recover the use of the church which was forcibly confiscated from them.
Director E. Adomavičius of the Rumokai Experimental Farm persuaded Vaclovas Puskunigis to work as miller at the church. Party member Raguckas had refused, saying he was ashamed before the people to mill grain in the church.