Right, top, Anastazas Janulis; center, Genovaitė Navickaitė; bottom, Ona Vitkauskaitė; all three were sentenced for reproducing and disseminating the Chronicle. Left, top, Gemma Stanelytė, sentenced for organizing a religious procession; center, Gintautas Iešmantas, and bottom, Vytautas Skuodis; the two men were sentenced for producing andlor disseminating illegal publications.
IN THIS ISSUE:
The Trial of Janulis and Buzas
The Trial of Vitkauskaitė and Navickaitė
The Trial of Gemma-Jadvyga Stanelytė
The Trial of Skuodis, Iešmantas, and Pečeliūnas
The Late Pranciškus Masilionis, S.J.
The 550th Jubilee of Vytautas, Grand Duke of Lithuania
Spiritual Revival in Lithuania
The Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
No. 46December 25, 1980
Read and pass on!
Published since 1972
This issue is dedicated to the memory
of the holy and active life of the late
T. P. MASILIONIS, S.J.
On November 24, 1980, the circuit session of the Supreme Court of the Lithuanian SSR in Kaišiadorys began to try the case of Anastazas Janulis and Povilas Buzas. Even the closest relatives were not informed of the upcoming trial, for example, Buzas's wife, Janulis's sister, and others. Having heard, by chance, that [Miss] Ona Vitkauskaitė and [Miss] Genovaitė Navickaitė were to be tried in Vilnius on November 24, their relatives went to the Supreme Court there, only to discover that in one-half hour the trial of Janulis and Buzas would begin in Kaišiadorys.
The security police would not admit even close relatives, e.g. the sister-in-law of Buzas. After a long argument, the security police finally admitted Buzas's sister into the courtroom. In the meantime, all of the places in the courtroom had been occupied by security agents and other officials. Their "interest" in the trial was shown by the fact that many were observed to be carrying books and newspapers to read, while those who really wanted to observe the trial, e.g. Father Antanas Gražulis, Mrs. Buzas, and others, were left standing outside. They were not only driven from the corridors but were not allowed to remain in the first-floor lobby or by the doors outside. Everywhere about the courthouse, in the vestibule, and in the corridors, security agents from Vilnius, Prienai, and Kaišiadorys, together with the policemen called to their assistance, buzzed about.
It was not possible to learn the judge's name, but the prosecutor was Bakučionis and the assessor Bikulčius.
On November 24-25, 1980, in Vilnius the Supreme Court of the Lithuanian SSR tried the case of [Miss] Genovaitė Navickaitė and [Miss] Ona Vitkauskaitė, charged with reproducing and distributing the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Even the closest relatives of the defendants were noi informed of the upcoming trial. They found out about it from the witnesses who had been summoned to court. Security police guarded the courtroom and would admit no one except close relatives. The courtroom itself was filled with security agents and what the Chekists call "practitioners." [Miss] Brone Vitkauskaitė was not excused from work to prevent her from attending her own sister's trial.
The defendants were brought in at 10 a.m., escorted by soldiers. The witnesses [Mrs.] Terese Petrikienė and [Miss] Genute Mačenskaitė suddenly stepped up to them saying, "Greetings from all who are praying for you!" The soldiers rudely ordered the courageous women away.
The judge introduced the members of the court: the presiding judge, Repsa, the assessors Burokevičienė and Gudelevičius. The state prosecutor was Kyriyenko.
On December 16, 1980, in Kelmė, the trial of [Miss] Gemma Jadvyga Stanelytė took place. The security police wanted this trial to be held without anyone's knowledge; even her closest relatives were not informed. Early in the morning while it was still dark, a group of Gemma's friends gathered at the courthouse doors. When a grey prison van stopped at the courthouse and a gap appeared among the police, one of Gemma's friends jumped towards the steel van and cried out loudly through the space between the doors, "Gemma! Dear Gemma! We're with you!"
Her friends found out where the courtroom was and quickly crowded in. The court personnel kept glancing uneasily at them as they sat in the courtroom. After a while, a trusty and a policeman entered and chased everyone out, saying that another case was to be tried in this chamber and that Stanelytė's case would come up later. After having been driven from the courtroom, Gemma's friends went to the presiding judge's chambers and found out that Gemma's trial would take place at noon in his chambers. Friends and acquaintances of the accused stood on the courthouse stairs and in the corridor because it was cold and damp outside. Greater and greater numbers kept gathering at the courthouse. They had come from the farthest corners of Lithuania: priests, the young, and elderly people. Everyone wanted to enter the courtroom, but the police were closely guarding the doors. Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius, and Vincas Vėlavičius arrived and introduced themselves as members of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights and requested to see the presiding judge. But no arguments or demands had any effect on the people's government. The police did not even allow the priests through the doors into the corridor. Finally, by means of a ruse, they were able to lure many of those waiting to another outer door. The security police said that the people would be allowed into the courtroom through this small door, and those standing closest would get in. Finally, the trial began. About ten witnesses and those invited by the security police, about sixty in all, entered through a service entrance the chamber from which the others had been removed by trickery and threats. Gemma's sister was also allowed into the courtroom. Seeing M. Jurevičius from Šiauliai standing at the door, they allowed him to participate in the proceedings. All the others waited in the street.
On December 15, 1980, in Courtroom 101 of the Supreme Court in Vilnius among the many spectators were the families and close relatives of the three defendants: G. Iešmantas, P. Pečeliūnas, and V. Skuodis. On the judge's desk lay twenty-four volumes of trial material. The defendants were brought in. They were tired but strong in spirit. Prosecuting Attorney Bakučionis, Judge Ignotas, the assessors, Didžiulienė and a man with a Russian surname, entered. The judge asked whether the defendants had any remarks concerning the composition of the court. All three refused the services of counsel since they were appointed December 8, just as the defendants were presented with the particulars of the case, and they had no time to familiarize themselves with the case. Povilas Pečeliūnas noted that he had not received any legal consultation even though he had waited for the attorney on September 9,11, and 12; Attorney Kudaba had had no time to meet with the defendant. In addition, Skuodis requested that the composition of the court be changed because being members of the Communist Party, they could not be objective in such a trial. The court dismissed the attorneys, who left the court with lowered heads. Moreover, Iešmantas's wish not to have his son summoned to testify against his father was deliberated. This request was supported by Pečeliūnas and Skuodis. The court denied the request.
The defendants presented themselves to the court:
Skuodis, Vytautas: according to his birth certificate Vytautas-Benediktas Scott
— born March 21, 1929, in Chicago, U.S.A.
— a citizen of the USSR
— never tried
— education: high level; worked at Vilnius State University as a lecturer/instructor.
On the morning of October 14,1980, Father Prančiskus Masilionis, S.J., fell asleep in the Lord. Since this saintly and zealous priest served the Catholic Church of Lithuania and the nation with exemplary dedication, we offer a few facts from his unusual life.
The deceased was born February 26,1902, in the village of Pažosai, Joniškis parish, and was one of nine children. After completing the Panevėžys high school, he studied philosophy and theology, and on June 11, 1927, Bishop K. Paltarokas ordained him a priest. He worked as an assistant pastor, a chaplain, and a diocesan chancellor. In 1928 he entered the Jesuit Order. He studied in Austria for a few years. During the postwar years when the seminaries were closed, he worked as pastor in various parishes: Karsakiškis, Palėvene, Kriklėnai, and Sidabravas.
Father Masilionis was a zealous apostle. Because of his caring pastoral work, Commissioner Rugienis of the Committee for Religious Affairs would not allow him to practice his priestly ministry. He took away his so-called certificate of registration, and only through the intervention of Bishop J. Steponavičius was he able to live as a retired priest in Saločiai.
Father Prančiskus conducted very successful retreats in parishes and for priests and nuns. Everyone admired not only his preaching but also his very eloquent personal life, which could be characterized as, "Nothing for oneself; everything for God and the people." He was, so to speak, an incarnation of God's love, which radiated everywhere.
In 1430 in Trakai, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas, who had led the Lithuanian nation onto the broad road of European Christian culture, died.
In 1930 an independent Lithuania celebrated the 500th anniversary of the death of Vytautas. Newspapers and books bore the banner of the Year of the Grand Duke. Special committees were organized to commemorate the anniversary. A museum and monuments were erected and the portrait of Vytautas the Great was transported about Lithuania, urging the nation to new resolve and undertakings.
Fifty years went by. On October 25 Lithuanians who love their nation and revere the memory of Vytautas The Great came to Trakai to commemorate the 550th anniversary of the Grand Duke's death.
The authorities had told the pastor of the Trakai church in advance to lock the church on that day and disappear. Police and security police hindered journeys to Trakai under a variety of pretexts. They stopped chartered buses and cars and took exception to the drivers' documents.
From Vladas Lapienis's letter:
"Whether as a prisoner or as an exile, I will be content, for I am fulfilling the will of God . . ..
"Leafing through Lithuanian periodicals I found the following: 'Volunteers now go to Siberia, the best representatives of our youth, carrying roadmaps from the Communist Youth League. They are determined to see the beauties of nature and to reveal the riches of this land to the people. And in other days Siberia was a place of exile evoking terror' (Tiesa [Truth], April 5,1980). After reading this, the question naturally arises: 'Is Siberia a pleasure resort for exiles today?' "
* * *
Justas Gimbutas, sentenced last February 26 in Klaipėda to a year in jail "for violating passport regulations," is presently being held in the infirmary of the Vilnius prison (OC 12/11). He was brought here from the Kapsukas Concentration Camp. His health is poor. During solitary confinement at the concentration camp, his left arm and leg became paralyzed. He has developed bedsores.
On January 29, 1980, at the time of the arrest of Anastazas Janulis, |Missl Algina Suslavičiūtė of Kaišiadorys was also detained. She was questioned regarding Anastazas Janulis, and her home was searched the following day for underground publications. During the search many religious booklets, an address book, etc., were confiscated. Following the search, Suslavičiūtė was taken to Vilnius. The Chekist Matulevičius demanded that she tell all she knew about Janulis. She returned from the interrogation only on February 1.
Until Janulis's trial, Suslavičiūtė was often summoned by telephone to the Vilnius security offices for interrogations. (One should never heed telephone orders to report to security headquarters — Ed.). She was interrogated by the Chekist Balčiūnas. On one occasion the Chief of Security in Kaišiadorys asked Suslavičiūtė to be a spy and informer for the security police.
The number of Communion Hosts distributed at Žemaičių Kalvarija during the religious festival of Mary:
1966 — 6,944
1970 — 8,624
1977 — 12,511
1978 — 16,413
1979 — 20,250
1980 — 22,100
This year during the festival the faithful took more than 4,000 cards with a pledge of abstinence or sobriety.
Document no. 36 (October 20, 1980) announces that three new members have joined the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights:
Fr. Leonas Kalinauskas, ind. 235036, Kėdainiai Rayon, Josvainiai, 16 Susve St.
Fr. Algimantas Keina, ind. 234645, Varėna Rayon, Valkininkai.
Fr. Vaclovas Stakėnas, ind. 234584, Alytus Rayon, Krokialaukis.
Fr. Jonas Kauneckas was elected secretary of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights for 1981.
Document no. 37 (October 20, 1980). A petition addressed to Second Secretary Dybenko of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania, states: "As can be seen from his autobiography, Eduardas Bulachas has suffered many undeserved demotions and harassment during his lifetime solely because of his religious beliefs." It further requests that he be allowed to emigrate to the United States.
"From: The Faithful of the Parish of Šlavantai
"To: The Prosecutor's Office of the USSR
"We, the faithful of the Šlavantai parish, are deeply shocked by the events of which our pastor, Fr. Juozas Zdebskis, has become a victim. At the beginning of October 1980 many automobiles drove about in the village of Šlavantai. People witnessed their stopping randomly and some suspicious characters even changing license plates. These automobiles followed the pastor everywhere. At that time our pastor and his passenger, Vytautas Vaičiūnas, an engineer, were mysteriously burned by either radiation, chemicals, or some other means. In the Republican Clinical Hospital of Kaunas, Father Zdebskis was diagnosed as suffering second-degree burns.
"Lately, for some reason, the priests of Lithuania are being persecuted. In Luokė, Father Šapoka was brutally tortured and murdered. Priests have been brutally injured
in Griškabūdis, Kulautuva, and Karmėlava.
"We request that the Prosecutor investigate these events and take steps to ensure that these incidents will not be repeated in the future."
Šlavantai, October 1980
Signed by 684 persons
A regional conference-seminar took place on October 22-24, 1980, regarding "Russian-Language Homework in National Schools." The draft of recommendations that resulted urged teachers to "try by all possible means to involve the students in various forms of homework in the Russian language .... To organize a Russian-speaking environment throughout the schools: Russian language days and weeks, Olympics, various competitions, debates, etc."
The methodology letter contains instructions for planning Pioneer meetings, Communist Youth League meetings, and other events in the Russian language. It is suggested that conditions be created for teachers to interact with students in the Russian language. It is recommended that geography, history, biology, etc., be taught in Russian.
On September 2, 1980, KGB agent Blazauskas visited the Medical School in Šiauliai and summoned third-year group 7 student [Miss] Irena Dapkutė from class. He wanted to recruit her for security police work and warned her not to tell anyone of their meeting. Irena would not promise to participate. Failing to achieve anything, he once again tried on September 8 to entice the girl with tempting promises, saying that he would help her get into high school (even though she was first in her class). Failing to recruit Irena, the agent began to question her about certain residents of Šiauliai: M. Jurevičius, [Mrs.] Petkevičienė, and J. Petkevičius, slandering them in a variety of ways.
Petras Plumpa (Chistopol prison), Petras Paulaitis (Mordoviya), Sergei Kovalev (Mordoviya), Viktoras Petkus (Perm Region), Balys Gajauskas (Mordoviya), Vladas Lapienis ((exiled to Teya), Algirdas Statkevičius (Cher-nyakhovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital-Prison), Antanas Terleckas (Perm Region), Julius Sasnauskas (tried, address still unknown), Povilas Pečeliūnas (tried, addresss still unknown), Vytautas Skuodis (tried, address still unknown), Anastazas Janulis (tried, address still unknown), Povilas Buzas (tried, address still unknown), Gintautas Iešmantas (tried, address still unknown), [Miss] Gemma-Jadvyga Stanelytė (tried, address still unknown), [Miss] Genovaitė Navickaitė (Panevėžys), [Miss] Ona Vitkauskaitė (Panevėžys), and others are enduring the yoke of bondage in order that you may live and believe in freedom.