On July 9, 1980, despite the bad weather, large crowds of people flocked to Žemaičių Kalvarija. The shrine could not hold everyone who assembled, and some had to pray outside in the churchyard during the pouring rain. A mass was concelebrated by ninety-five priests, the majority from the Diocese of Telšiai and several from other dioceses. The people had come to make vows of temperance. A sermon on the importance of temperance and the disastrous effects of alcohol was given by the administrator of the Diocese of Telšiai, Father Antanas Vaičius. He urged everyone to pledge to do without alcohol or, at the very least, to drink in moderation.
Following the sermon, the priests read a vow of temperance-abstinence. Each of the faithful who made pledges received commemorative picture cards; 4,100 of them were distributed. During mass 3,700 received Holy Communion.
Following the mass, Msgr. Kazimieras Gasčiūnas, the dean of Mažeikiai, preached a fiery sermon. Inspired by his words, a large number of believers were moved to pledge to save Lithuania from the rising tide of alcohol and from the fatal spiritual vacuum produced by atheism, because this vacuum is most often filled with alcohol. The enthusiasm was so great that, following the sermon and despite the crowding and extreme mugginess, almost everyone stayed for the long devotions of the Stations of the Cross (due to the foul weather it was impossible to walk from station to station in the hills).
Every day during the religious festival (July 2-9), Žemaičių Kalvarija was crowded with pilgrims. On Sunday (July 6), the principal day, traffic police recorded 2,865 private vehicles (carrying more than 15,000 pilgrims). Since some of the pilgrims came by bus or other means and still others arrived several days earlier, it is estimated that some 30,000 people crowded into Žemaičių Kalvarija on that day. Some 6,700 participants received Holy Communion. During the entire period 20,500 Holy Communion wafers were distributed.
Every year an increasing number of young people are seen at the services. There was an especially large number on Saturday, July 5. The Saturday before the main day of the religious festival has already become a traditional youth day. Several thousand youths walked the outside Stations of the Cross. Sermons were given at each chapel by Father Stanislovas Krumpliauskas (assistant pastor of Kupiškis) and Father Jonas Kauneckas (assistant pastor of the Telšiai cathedral). They urged the young to profess their faith boldly and never renounce Lithuania's symbol, the cross. Before they left for the hills, Father Bronius Antanaitis, pastor of Šeduva, preached. With persuasive arguments he showed the youth the absurdity and deceitfulness of atheism.
The Žemaicių Kalvarija devotions during the first week of July have become a feast of triumphal faith for all Lithuania.
On August 23, 1980, many young people began to assemble in Tytuvėnai to prepare for the procession of atonement. Having visited the church and having prayed, many set off for the lake. Someone telephoned the guard on duty at the rental booth to ask, "What are the young people doing?" It seems that a "vigilant" eye had been following the arrivals since early morning. The people of Tytuvėnai warmly welcomed the pilgrims and promised to put them up for the night. When the pilgrims had left for the evening services, the local officials began to interrogate the inhabitants. The police asked the inhabitants who was staying with them; where they were from; why they were there; etc. The officials said that they would come that night to check documents. Police vehicles drove about the town, carefully observing the new arrivals. A group from Anykščiai was detained.
A large number of security agents came to the services that evening, pretending to be believers, crossing themselves, kneeling, and so on. During the night the young people prayed in the church while others waited for morning in the sacristy. The rectory telephone rang at midnight; the officials who called scolded the priest for establishing a hotel in his church.
After the morning services on August 24, the participants formed a procession. Young men carrying a cross and flags, young girls dressed in national costumes, two priests in liturgical robes, and a kilometer-long file of believers singing "Marija, Marija" (Mary, Mary) began to move along the streets of the town. They were met by policemen and security police officials as they approached the town's main road. One of the officials shouted through a loudspeaker, "Organizers, please disperse the participants. The march has not been cleared with the executive committee!" But no one paid attention. Outside of the town, police officers and security agents sitting in a covered vehicle demonstratively photographed and filmed those who filed past. Alongside stood a black, curtained vehicle from which movies were also filmed. A fire engine went by with sirens screaming. The photographing and filming continued throughout the march.
The rosary was recited and hymns were sung along the entire route to the Šiluva Chapel. The young people enraged the security police by decorating the crosses which stood along the way. People knelt as they saw the procession. Men removed their hats and often brushed away a tear. Everyone was moved by the fact that the march was mostly composed of youths and children.
At the chapel in Šiluva the pilgrims recited the rosary. Father K. Daknevičius gave a homily. From the chapel everyone proceeded in an organized fashion towards the church. There, a mass was offered for Lithuanian temperance, and Father J. Zdebskis preached an appropriate sermon.
It was learned later that after the marchers had left the Tytuvėnai church, V. Vaičiūnas, an engineer who had made a brief speech in the church stressing the intention and the legality of the march, was detained and taken to the police station. The security police confiscated the Constitution of the USSR from him. He was using it as a basis to explain that the faithful were committing no offense with this procession of atonement. They also confiscated a traffic control flag as "proof of his offense." He was then released.
In October of this year a petition signed by 5,698 believers from Kaunas was addressed to Petras Griškevičius, secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist party. They demanded the return of the miraculous painting of "Our Lady of Pažaislis," stolen from the cathedral on August 29, 1979. Igor Chistiakov was convicted of the crime, but the picture has not yet been returned. "This long delay," wrote the people of Kaunas, "in returning the believers' treasure to the Archcathedral-Basilica of Kaunas has caused us great distress and has produced a new wave of rumors. Some say that the painting will never be returned, others that the crime was engineered solely to confiscate it, while others are making various presumptions about the government."
[Miss] Nijolė Sadūnaitė is free, but her persecution continues. While in exile she did not receive many letters sent to her from abroad, but some did reach her. After returning to freedom, she wrote letters to her friends abroad, but after four months she has still not received a single reply. Soviet censors confiscate them. Gifts sent to Nijolė are also confiscated. For instance, Friar Hieronymus from Israel sent Sadūnaitė three packages, but although eight months have passed, none have yet been delivered.
Grinkiskis (Radviliškis Rayon)
On August 20, 1980, Father Juozas Vaičekauskas sent a letter to Bishop L. Povilonis, the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and the Diocese of Vilkaviškis. He wrote: "At 11 a.m. on August 20,1980,1 was taken by a Radviliškis Rayon Executive Committee vehicle to the Township Executive Committee offices. In Township Chairwoman [Mrs.] Norvaisienes's office waited Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis and Vice Chairman Alfredas Krikštanas of the Radviliškis Rayon Executive Committee.
"Anilionis charged that I am violating Soviet laws and:
"1. Strictly forbade me to teach children the catechism in any format whatsoever. He forbade me to explain the catechism to children during sermons at services, to question them, and at the same time to explain to them. He quoted a new interpretation of the criminal code on this matter and threatened me with fines.
"2. Pointed out that children sometimes visit me at my home. Anilionis does not know what I say to them but strictly warned me that children are not to visit in the future.
"3. Ordered that children must not serve at mass or participate in processions.
"4. Attacked me brutally for not submitting information at the end of the year regarding the number of christenings, marriages, etc., and charged that I also urged other priests not to divulge such information.
"5. Forbade me to walk or drive in funeral processions to the cemetery. I must get there ahead of time.
"Anilionis stated that only a handful of the seven hundred priests in Lithuania violate Soviet laws. He said that I violate the laws less often at the Grinkiškis parish than I did while working in other parishes. He urged me not to ruin my reputation and to stop violating the laws. When I asked them to specify which priests I had urged to withhold statistical data, Krikštanas replied that he knew who they were, but he did not name any. Anilionis hardly allowed me to speak, and when he told me not to raise my voice, I stood up to leave. He shouted, 'Wait, that's not everything!' As I left, he threatened that I would be fetched by the police.
"When he came to Grinkiškis, Anilionis brought Township Chairwoman Norvaišienė a gift, the newly published catechism. What strange logic — he gives a catechism to a nonbeliever while morally suffocating a priest."
(Ed. Note: This summer the Religious Affairs Commissioner visited many active priests, for example, Father L. Kalinauskas, the pastor of Josvainiai; Father Algimantas Keina, the pastor of Valkininkai; Msgr. Bronius Antanaitis, the pastor of Šeduva; and others. He warned them about the regulations dealing with religious cults and demanded that they be observed.
On September 1, 1980, Father Jonas Kauneckas, assistant pastor of the Telšiai cathedral, wrote a complaint to the Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR in which he described how the Joniškis police and security agents crudely violate Soviet laws. He wrote:
"At about 8 p.m. on August 21, 1980, officials detained me for no discernible reason after fining Petras Gražulis, who was driving me, for exceeding the speed limit (He did / not let a Moskvich pass him to keep his windows from being splattered. Officials were travelling in it, with no identifying marks, and at first did not signal us to stop). Without making any charges, they ordered me out of the car and took me to the duty room of the Joniškis State Security headquarters. There they began to search my pockets in the presence of some twenty people. Some wore civilian clothes (the policemen later said they were security police employees). Others wore police uniforms; one was even a major. I stated that they had no right to search me without a prosecutor's warrant. A sergeant punched me in the face with his fist, saying, 'Here's your warrant!' The policeman on duty then grabbed my lapel and began to remove the cross pinned there. I showed him that I had another religious symbol, a medal, around my neck and stated that Soviet laws do not forbid wearing them. Furthermore, the key to the trunk was taken from Gražulis, and the trunk was searched. Because the car contained some of my personal belongings, I wanted to observe the search, at least through the police building window, but was not allowed to do so.
"After searching our pockets, the officials began to read aloud from our notebooks and papers. They asked their purpose, etc. They continued to question me in the security police office on the second floor. We were held for nearly one and one-half hours. I was not informed of any charges, no interrogation report was written, not a single employee produced any identification (even when they demanded to see the driver's credentials!), and they did not state their names."
Tryškiai (Telšiai Rayon)
During the night of May 13, 1980, the church was broken into and the last ciborium, four candlesticks, and a reliquary were stolen, and the tabernacle was ripped out. The Blessed Sacrament from the ciborium was spilled in the tabernacle.
On September 17, 1980, Father Virgilijus Lenktaitis, assistant pastor of Ukmergė, was summoned by the Ukmergė Executive Committee for a routine scolding. The meeting was attended by Rayon Chairman A. Bernotas, Vice Chairman A. Perednis, and an unidentified individual who was probably a security agent. The officials were angered by Father Lenktaitis's sermons, and they threatened to find him a place in another parish. It was their opinion that no one was actively forcing the children to join either the Pioneers or the Communist Youth League; they were joining of their own free will. The assistant pastor was pressured to sign an explanation, but he refused. Vice Chairman Perednis stated that the meeting was being held with the approval of the Religious Affairs Commissioner. He also warned the priest not to teach children the truths of the faith.
Josvainiai (Kėdainiai Rayon)
On April 10, 1980, the Kėdainiai Rayon newspaper Tarybinis kelias (The soviet way) printed a defamatory article, "Kreivas žvilgsnis" (A Crooked Glance) about Father Leonas Kalinauskas, pastor of the Josvainiai parish.
The faithful were outraged by the article. The Josvainiai Parish Council (Chairman V. Urbonas) sent a reply titled "Tiesių žvilgsnių beieškant" (Seeking straight glances) to the editor of the newspaper defending their pastor and maintaining that he has the right to teach children the truths of the faith, to visit parishioners, and to decide who can and cannot be given a church burial.
The faithful are angered that atheists behave improperly in church during funerals by forbidding children to stand by the casket. They force believing children to join atheistic groups, reduce the conduct grades of believing children, etc.
Truskava (Kėdainiai Rayon)
On May 27, 1980, Father Petras Nykštas, pastor of the Truskava parish, was summoned by the Kėdainiai Rayon Executive Committee. Rayon Vice Chairman Juškevičius severely admonished the priest for praying on Pentecost Sunday with a thousand-strong crowd outside the burned down church. The officials threatened that the priest could be punished for conducting such services (the present Truskava church can barely accommodate 150 persons).
Nemakščiai (Raseiniai Rayon)
Alfonsas Bumbulis, a resident of Nemakščiai, has sent a statement to the Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR in which he protests the brutal arbitrariness of the security police toward [Miss] Nijolė Sadūnaitė and himself.
In his statement of July 17 he wrote that he was exiled in 1948 to the Krasnoyarsk Territory and lived in Boguchany for eleven years. Therefore, when he learned that Nijolė Sadūnaitė's term of exile was ending, he decided to visit the places he knew and help her return to Lithuania.
During his journey, Bumbulis felt the "concerned" attention of the security police. While accepting his baggage, an employee hesitated for some reason, examined his papers at great length, asked where he was registered. Once the boarding had begun, there were more surprises in the final check-in room. He was directed to a side room where he was questioned by two uniformed officials as to where he was from and where he was going. They meticulously noted everything down in a notebook and checked his briefcase.
As they were returning to Lithuania, they were met at the Jurmila airport (Latvian SSR) by three uniformed men and several civilians. To the passengers' surprise, their papers and tickets were checked as they left the plane. Bumbulis wrote that the checks lasted only until his and Sadūnaitė's turn came. After their documents were examined, they were placed in a car which contained several security police employees from Vilnius. They were forced to travel all the way home in such "pleasant" company. "Nijolė Sadūnaitė and I are free Soviet citizens. What was the reason for all of that?" asked Bumbulis. "Weren't the security agents obliged to identify themselves and explain this unfortunate operation?" It would be very simple to say, "The security police cannot stand to have the returning prisoner greeted with roses by her countrymen," or "We want to drive fear into the Lithuanians' hearts on the occasion of. Lithuania's fortieth anniversary (of Soviet occupation — Tr.)".
Bumbulis concluded his statement thus: "Through this widely known operation the anonymous security agents compromised not only themselves but the entire Soviet system."
On March 23, 1980, Director Baranauskas of the Nuklon plant in Šiauliai ordered Jonas Tamutis, a long-time good worker to resign "of his own free will" because of demands by the Šiauliai KGB. Tamutis refused. The director then threatened to create unbearable work conditions by demoting him.
The KGB's reason for interfering is because Tamutis participated in pilgrimages to Šiluva and the Hill of Crosses in 1979.
Girdžiai (Jurbarkas Rayon)
On August 27, 1980, the Executive Committee of Girdžiai Township wrote a letter to Father V. Šauklys, the pastor of the Girdžiai parish:
"It has come to our attention that underage children serve at masses in your church, sing in the choir, and participate in other ceremonies. Even excursions have been organized during which they attended religious ceremonies. Religion was taught. We warn you to see to it that such things are not repeated in the future since they are in violation of Decree no. IX-748 of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR, dated July 28,1976, which confirmed the Regulations for Religious Associations.
(signed) D. Bosienė
On September 10, 1980, two security agents, who did not dare identify themselves, "educated" employee [Miss] Dalia Tamutytė at the Šiauliai Birthing Home during a routine "talk" that lasted an hour and one-half, urging her to cooperate with them.
The Chekists were interested in the activities of the Confraternity of the Most Blessed Sacrament. They asked whether she knew the Šiauliai residents M. Jurevičius and J. Petkevičienė and how she would characterize them.
The security agents strongly advised her to examine her life and come to the necessary conclusions. In their opinion, Dalia Tamutytė associates with very bad people. The Chekists stated they must know all the persons who might, in the future, shoot them in the back. Furthermore, they threatened to prevent her from visiting relatives who live abroad and to cause problems at work. They also reminded her not to attempt to tell anyone about this "talk" so that Vatican Radio would not learn of it.
During the next few days Dalia's former coworker, [Miss] M. Radavičiūtė was subjected to similar "talks."