THE ARCHDIOCESE OF VILNIUS
"To: K. Tumėnas, LSSR Commissioner of the Council
for Religious Affairs
Rev. C. Krivaitis, the ecclesiastical administrator
of the Vilnius Archdiocese
A Petition from the faithful of the Parish in Mielagėnai
in Ignalina Rayon
"Because the pastor of our parish, Father Vincentas Miškinis, is already eighty years old and afflicted with a great number of illnesses, he is no longer able to minister to our needs. Several years ago, during Lent, some neighboring priests came to minister to us (hear confessions and preach). At that time, Gudukienė, chairwoman of the Ignalina Executive Committee summoned Father Miškinis and upbraided him because other priests were helping out at Mielagėnai.
"Last summer, our pastor went away to undergo treatment. Practically every Sunday during his absence no services were held. We then appealed to the archdiocesan curia to appoint us a priest who was not incapacitated. We promised to maintain both priests, since the state grants no pensions to elderly priests or sacristans who are no longer able to work (even though ministers of the cult are required to pay sizeable income taxes to the state).
"Our pastor has been seriously ill and bedridden for the second month now. At the present time priests from neighboring parishes come here on Sundays to hold services, and then they hurry home. That is because there is a shortage of priests everywhere. The large parish of Adutiškis always had two priests, and now there is but one Ever since the closing of the church in 1961 during the tenure of Rugienis, the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs, Kačergiškė has had no priest. Some priests, for instance those in Ignalina, must even minister to two churches. It is obvious that they cannot also take care of the religious needs of our parish, of our sick, etc.
"It appears as though the ecclesiastical administrator of the archdiocese, Rev. C. Krivaitis, does not assign us a priest simply because there is a shortage of priests.
"We have heard, however, that there are priests who could minister to the faithful, but the government does not permit them to perform their priestly functions, for example, the Rev. Vytautas Merkys has been working in an arboretum in Vilnius for more than ten years.
"If such priests are allowed to work in governmental establishments, why are they not permitted to minister to us believers? Why are we being punished, for the Constitution guarantees the freedom of conscience?
"No one knows why our Bishop Steponavičius was removed from his position. No one knows why for thirty-five years no one has ever administered the sacrament of confirmation at our church in Mielagėnai. It grieves us that we have no regular services at our church, that our sick die without the last sacraments, that in our own church there is no one who could say mass for our intentions.
"It would not be so hard for us, the faithful, if we did not know that there are priests and bishops who are not permitted to carry out their duties.
"You have been appointed the new commissioner in charge of our—believers'—affairs. We therefore request you to find positions for all the bishops and priests who were displaced; to permit the ecclesiastical administrator of the archdiocese to appoint to our parish in Mielagėnai an able priest who would be capable of ministering to the needs of all the faithful, as demands humanity and the Constitution.
October 13, 1973"
This petition was signed by about 1,000 persons, not just Catholic Lithuanians, but also non-Catholic Russians; however, the petition was never submitted to K. Tumėnas, the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs, for the following reasons:
1. On October 19, 1973, M. Kolesničenko, head of the Ignalina Rayon State Security Committee, and A. Vaitonis, vice-chairman of the Rayon Executive Committee, started a hunt in the parish of Mielagėnai for the signed petitions.
They went to Miečioniai Village, to the home of [Miss] Elena Jakštaitė, and tormented her for a whole hour, asking who had organized the petition and demanding that she hand over the petition together with all the signatures. She refused to comply with their demands. Her "guests" then threatened her with imprisonment and a search. The girl became frightened and surrendered the petitions.
Apparently the security agents were aware of who was gathering signatures since they went from Miečioniai directly to Kostas Bajorūnas in Buckūnai Village. Here again there were interrogations and threats. Kostas, deeply upset, told them that he had handed over the petitions to [Mrs.] Marijona Milikėnienė. Thereupon the security agents traveled to the residence of the Milikėnases in Malikai Village. Marijona was not at home. The whole brunt of the terrorization fell upon the shoulders of her husband, Stanislovas. He was not about to give in easily, but unfortunately the petitions had not been hidden, and so they were confiscated.
On that day petitions with several hundred signatures were seized in the villages of Miečioniai, Bernotai, Masonai, Buckūnai, and Salomenka. They were unsuccessful in obtaining the petitions elsewhere.
Widespread panic arose. Some people began to talk publicly that at the present time in Lithuania the fate of the believer was worse than during the days of serfdom— the faithful are not even allowed to ask that a priest be assigned to their parish.
The people were not discouraged, however, and continued collecting signatures.
The security police did not forget to "pet" Juozas Bajorūnas, chairman of the Mielagėnai Parochial Committee. They berated him and told him that the writing of such and similar petitions and the stirring up of people was not allowed. On October 22 Bajorūnas was ordered to go to Ignalina to explain himself; however, on that day he did not go to therayon headquarters himself, but rather his wife, Ona Bajorūnienė, went. Vice-Chairman Vaitonis, in an attempt to embarass her, upbraided her: "Why do you appeal to Vilnius? Write to us! You biddies know where to turn. Your children are in Vilnius; that's why you're so smart!"
2. After the security officials had confiscated the petitions with the signatures, on October 20 Dean Julius Baltušis brought to Father Antanas Mačiulis, pastor of the parish in Paringys, a communique from the Rev. C. Krivaitis, the ecclesiastical administrator of the Vilnius Archdiocese, in which it was indicated that Father Mačiulis must minister to the faithful of Mielagėnai until a priest is appointed to that parish. The assignment was made completely disregarding the fact that between Paringys and Mielagėnai there is a distance of twelve kilometers, and there is only one passenger bus daily.
The security organs and the atheists have attained their goal. Now that the curia has appointed a priest, albeit a visiting one, it was unseemly for the believers to send another petition because both the curia and Commissioner Tumėnas would reply that they already have a priest.
While the signatures were being collected, Pastor V. Miškinis of Mielagėnai lay in the hospital at Švenčionys. His health was improving, but when he found out how the security agents were treating his parishioners, he became very agitated, and on October 27, 1973, he died.