The pastor of Gervėčiai, Father Stanislov Chodygo, died in September 1978. Although Polish, he respected the Lithuanians and during services also read the gospel in Lithuanian.

The inhabitants of Gervėčiai, Rimdžiūnai, Giriai and other vil­lages endeavored to get a new priest from Lithuania. Father Petravičius came, but it soon became apparent that the district refused to register him.

The priest of Rodunė also died at the end of 1978. And so, not only Rodunė, but the inhabitants of the Lithuanian island of Pelesa were left without a priest.

At the beginning of 1979, the priest of Barunai, Father Kozlovskį who served several parishes, died at the age of 85. Thus, the last remaining priests are beginning to die out in Belorussia.

Novego Dvor

On April 23, 1979, the pastor of Novego Dvor and Vosiliškiai, Father Antonij Chanko, was issued a warning at the rayon because children serve at Mass.

Several weeks later, the rayon government imposed a 20-ruble fine on Father Chanko and the chairman of the N. Dvor church com­mittee because children participated in the Easter procession.



Since 1977 the Catholics of Sloboda-Rashkovo have been praying under the open sky, not only in summer but in autumn and winter as well, because the government razed the small church the faithful had built. People send telegrams, bet the priest to come to dying patients or bury the dead, but most telegrams disappear somewhere.

In Ribnitsa, Ivanovko and elsewhere the government replies as follows to requests from Catholics for permission to have the priest visit them: "You will sooner see polar bears than the priest." Government representatives refuse to register parishes in Bel'tsy, Andriyashevko, Petropavlovko, Tiraspol and elsewhere. The faithful are mocked:"Each of you can pray in his own home; there is no need for a house of worship."

On May 25, 1979, the Kamenka government allowed the priest to come bury a dead man and promised that the priest would now be able to come to Rashkovo with no restrictions. However, the priest was ordered to forbid the people to assemble for prayer when there is no priest and never allow children and young people to attend services.

On July 6th, the Commissioner from Kishinev berated Father Zavalniuk for not carrying out the government's demands and forbade him to visit Rashkovo. That same day government officials brought two carloads of workers and destroyed the altar the people had built in Rashkovo and the tent where the old and children took refuge from the rain in bad weather.

The Catholics of Rashkovo went to the Vinitsa district in the Ukraine for the purpose of getting a priest. Father Kazimieras Žilys who works there agreed to minister to the Catholics of Rashkovo, but the Moldavian Religious Affairs Commissioner would not give his consent. On another occasion, this commissioner called the faithful of Rashkovo criminals and told them to stop dreaming of getting help from Vinitsa where Father Žilys works. "He is a Lithuanian," the Commissioner was incensed. "And Lithuanians are all enemies of the Soviet government. The Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers was founded in Lithuania and it is dangerous to have anything to do with Lithuania!"

After the faithful continually badgered the Religious Affairs Council with requests to grant the priest permission to visit them, the commissioner allowed Father Zavalniuk to go minister to the people (except Rashkovo) two weeks before Easter, in response to their tele­grams, on the condition the local government is notified where the faithful will gather to pray. It is impossible to comply with such a condition in Moldavia. After the priest's visit, a campaign to ridicule and persecute the faithful is launched.

Many people came to Kishinew the week before Easter. The priest heard confessions day and night. He became completely ex­hausted and contracted meningitis after catching a chill on Easter morning.

The schoolchildren of Rashkovo also came to Kishinev for Easter. Because the trip is long and involves transfers, they were absent from school on Monday. Teh school principal scolded the students and mocked them. Furthermore, he summoned their parents. The parents courageously defended their children: "It is impossible to make the roundtrip to Kishinev in one day. And it is our sacred duty to make the Easter confession."

In their latest statement to the Religious Affairs Council in Moscow, the Catholics of Rashkovo write:

"It is likely that in no other Soviet Union republic are Catholics ridiculed as much as in Moldavia. Officials deride and offend our religious feelings. Rayon Executive Committee chairman Kozuchar and Secretary Vorana sarcastically reassure the faithful: "Keep quiet, or we will send you off to BAM where the polar bears are." District Chairman Bogorazh taunts the faithful: "Your mother's corpse may rot, but I won't allow the priest to come for the funeral!"