On June 5, in the church in Kybartai, Fathers' Day was being celebrated as usual. Children and youth gathered in great numbers greeted their fathers with verses of poetry and flowers, thanking them for their fatherly love and concern.
Although it is customary to celebrate Fathers' Day in the church of Kybartai, this year, the day had a completely different tone. It was painful to look at the tears rolling down cheeks of parents and children, when in the name of the entire parish, with the most beautiful verses and prayers, gratitude was expressed and Divine assistance was requested for Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, the spiritual father of Kybartai parish, suffering in the KGB cellars. Even more heartrending was the sight when the fathers brought the flowers presented by their children and placed them at their beloved pastor's confessional. Before fifteen minutes had passed, the confessional was covered with flowers. This is a clear testimony of the great love of the faithful of Kybartai, and of their solidarity with their beloved spiritual father in his suffering.
On June 6, in the church of Kybartai, a commemoration took place marking one month since the arrest of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. On that occasion, three priests concelebrated Mass. The church was hardly able to contain the faithful who convened. After Mass, all present went in procession, praying the rosary on their knees, around the church, requesting the help of the Mother of God for Father Tamkevičius, and for the entire parish to bear patiently the trials to come.
On July 6, once again, a crowd of the faithful gathered in the church of Kybartai to pray for the imprisoned Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. From 7:00 PM on, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration. The faithful gathered in great numbers and prayed for an entire hour to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. At 8:00 PM, a solemn Mass began for the imprisoned Father Tamkevičius. Six priests concelebrated Mass; two sermons were preached. During one sermon, the priest encouraged the dismayed people of Kybartai: "Do not be saddened that they have arrested two of the best priests in Lithuania. We must be proud of them and rejoice. It would be strange and incomprehensible if in a nation persecuted for the Faith, the priests did not suffer. Then one might think that in that nation there are no good priests, but today, we have two priest-martyrs. Let us be proud and rejoice!"
On June 6, 1983, one month after the arrest of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, the parishioners of Kybartai went in kneeling procession, praying for their beloved pastor.
After Mass, priests, girls in national costume and all the rest of the faithful went about the church on their knees in procession. At the end, the hymn, "Marija, Marija" "... relieve us of slavery . . .save us from the terrible foe . . .", rose to heaven.
Josvainiai (Kėdainiai Rayon)
On July 18, 1983, Leonas Kalinauskas, the Pastor of the Parish of Josvainiai, wrote Bishop Liudas Povilionis, the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Kaunas, the following petition:
"On May 13, this year, (Mrs.) Ona Ribačiauskienė and (Mrs.) Grūdienė, workers at the Josvainiai District, brought a warning from Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis for me to sign.
In that warning, which I refused to sign, is an unfounded accusation that I violated Article 19 of the Regulations for Religious Associations.
Of 700 priests, 522 are on record against those Regulations, which contradict Christ's command to preach the Gospel to the whole world and contravene Canon Law and the Constitution of the LSSR.
Moreover, I was reprimanded about an "anti-social" sermon delivered May 21,1983, in the churchyard of'Vepriai. When I asked my visitors what the word "anti-social" means, they explained that it means "anti-populist". In the churchyard, however, was precisely the believing populace which, numbering thousands, had since the concelebrated Mass the morning, been singing and making the Vepriai Way of the Cross on their knees, along the forest paths. The faithful recall well the thirty-five stations, even though the markers themselves have long been demolished.
Preaching the stations and helping the faithful to meditate on the Passion of Christ was the Pastor of Siesikai, Algirdas Mocius. Only at the last three stations, did I speak, emphasizing the Truth brought by Christ — the Gospel, which has been crowned by Our Lord, His holy apostles and martyrs, and the priests suffering in prison today — Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamkevičius.
Hence, I do not think that I transgressed agains the Church, nor against the state, in speaking about the sacrifice of the Cross and those suffering for Christ.
In Naujas gyvenimas (New Life), Number 55, in the article, "Vikaras trinktelėjo durimis" ("The Associate Pastor Slammed the Door"), the letter from Albinas Mykolaitis of the Village of Klebiškis which is quoted, is not true. Mykolaitis writes that, "The associate pastor did not say a single word about the deceased, but only vilified the atheists and urged people not to obey the government." That is not true.
We, the undersigned, participated in the funeral of Mykolaitis' son, and we affirm that Father Antanas Gražulis did not speak like that. Mykolaitis also claims that Associate Pastor Gražulis banned an orchestra at his son's funeral, just because people of other nationalities played in it.
This also is not true. The orchestra refused to play because a cross was being carried in the procession.
May 26, 1983
(Mrs.) Mykolaitienė (wife) The sisters of Albinas Mykolaitis: (Mrs.) D. Urbonavičienė, (Village of Dūmiškiai), (Mrs.) K. Žilinskienė (Village of Prienalaukis), (Mrs.) M. Siaurusevičienė (Village of Pagraižis), (Mrs.) M. Dereškevičienė (Village of Ašminta), (Mrs.) M. Kažemėkaitienė (Kaunas)
Others who participated in the funeral: (Mrs.) Cinelienė, (Mrs.) Mozūrienė, (Mrs.) Marcinkevičienė, (Mr.) Šumauskas, (Mrs.) Banionienė, (Mrs.) Burbulienė, (Mr.) Kažemėkaitis, (Mrs.) Mikušauskienė, (Mrs.) Paplauskienė, (Mr.) Žilinskas, (Mrs.) Šumauskienė, (Mrs.) Deltuvienė, (Mrs.) Ulevičienė, (Mr.) Bondar, (Mrs.) Senavaitienė, (Mrs.) Kruvelienė, (Mrs.) Petruškienė, (Mrs.) Karavienė, (Mrs.) Mockapetienė (Mr.) Ulevičius, (Mr.) Urbonavičius.
Copy to: Bishop Liudvikas Povilonis. From: The Faithful of the Parish of Prienai, Village of Ašminta
On May 12, 1983, in the newspaper Naujas gyvenimas (New Life), in the article, "The Associate Pastor Slammed the Door", Editor Matulaitis libeled our Associate Pastor, Antanas Gražulis, saying that in visiting the faithful in our area, he used intermediaries to collect 10 rubles per person. In all, he collected 700 rubles. We are annoyed at such libeling of Father Gražulis, because no one collected any money for our priest. We therefore demand that the aforesaid libel be retracted in the same newspaper.
Signed by 45 faithful of the Village of Ašminta
One copy of the protest, with the signature of the villagers was sent to the editors of the Prienai Rayon newspaper, Naujas gyvenimas.
To: the Executive Committee of the City of Kapsukas From: Father Pranas Šulskis, son of Juozas
Residing in the City of Kapsukas
I. Laukaitytės 18
On May 16 of this year, I was presented with Order No. 95 of the Kapsukas Municipal Executive Committee, dated April 13, 1983, identified only with the typewritten names of Chairman K. Sukačius and Executive Committee Secretary, (Mrs.) B. Plikynienė, but not signed by anyone, or addressed to anyone.
In that communication, on the basis of the LSSR Council of Ministers March 16, 1981 Decision No. 99, "Concerning the Implementation of the Law Regarding the War Against Arbitrary Construction", it was demanded that I get rid of "the wooden cross arbitrarily affixed to the facade on the street side of the dwelling".
Neither your communications which you have sent, nor the explanations convinced me that a cross hung on the wall of my house can be considered arbitrary construction. This can be found neither in the decision of the LSSR Council of Ministers which you mentioned, in which it speaks of the erection of residences or other edifices, but nothing is said about items of an ornamental nature: bouquets of flowers or vases, woodcarvings, sunbursts or crosses (even your staff, in the communication sent to me, call the latter decorative elements). I therefore request that you not disturb the cross, and if you think that I must have a permit for hanging up a cross, please give me such a document.
May 17, 1983
On May 26, 1983, Father Šulskis again wrote to the Executive Committee of the city:
Once again regarding the cross:
When on February 16 of this year, two of your staff visited me and checked the inventory documents of the house, asking whether I had a permit to hang a cross on the facade, I asked them a few questions, but for whatever reason, they did not reply to the following:
1. What laws forbid putting up a cross in ones yard or on the outside wall of the house?
2. If permits are needed, then they must be issued. Who issues them?
3. Why do I often see televised from Moscow, Leningrad or elsewhere, the finest crosses on church-museum steeples, while in Lithuania they are being destroyed, not only in fields and along roads, but even in private yards? They are torn even from architectural monuments (e.g., from the Cathedral of Vilnius, or the Įguolas Church in Kaunas).
After one such conversation, I received the following communications:
1. February 23. An unnumbered decree of February 16, 1983, with no seal.
2. April 12. A summons to attend the meeting of the Municipal Executive Committee.
3. May 16. The April 13, 1983 Order No. 95 of the Municipal Executive Committee (without address or signatures).
4. May 24. A repeated demand that I carry out the order of the Executive Committee dated April 13, 1983.
To the April 13, 1983 Order, I have responded, but you have not paid any attention to my reply. Therefore, I will remind you of a few things once more, in greater detail. It seems to me that it is well known to the Executive Committee that I am an invalid of the first group, that not only am I unable to walk, but even to sit comfortably, and that for that, it is not I who am to blame, but Soviet soldiers who, on June 25, 1946, shot me. So how can I come to a session of the Municipal Executive Committee. . .
On April 13, 1983, in your communication, Decree No. 99 of the LSSR Council of Ministers dated March 16, 1981, on the basis of which you demand that I remove the cross from the facade of my home, but that decision speaks of residences (their elements), and other edifices (elements of them) which give their owners some sort of tangible benefit and nothing is said there about things which ornament the surroundings, nor about the furnishing ol buildings legitimately erected.
In your communication of May 24, 1983, you described my "offense" somewhat differently, "... you violated the government's established procedure for putting up or erecting buildings and various decorative elements".
But this is pure verbiage if you cannot show me where I might familiarize myself with that procedure. Surely, I have the right to acquaint myself with the government's established procedure and with its directives regarding arbitrary construction. Perhaps it is a secret to be concealed from everyone, if neither your staff revealed it, nor you, in your communications, except for the March 16, 1981 Decision of the LSSR Council of Ministers, which surely does not apply in my case?
The conclusion keeps bothering me that the Municipal Executive Committee's demand to do away with the cross is based only on ideological arguments. But is it right to use the authority of the Executive Committee for that?
(The petition has been condensed — Ed. Note)
To this petition — explanation of Father Pranas Šulskis, no one responded. About 10:00 AM on June 1, 1983, Chief Engineer
A. Banaitis of the Building and Architectural Administration, and a militia official, visited Father Šulskis and began to read all of the Executive Commitee's correspondence regarding the cross. When Father Šulskis told them that all of the communications had been received and were known, but that he had not hung the cross to be taken down, Banaitis warned, "We'll take it down by force!"
During this discussion, Banaitis' assistants arrived and tore the cross down from the wall, and thowing it into a truck, drove off. During the operation, the street was guarded by militia, and street traffic was stopped.
Girdžiai (Jurbarkas Rayon)
On May 29, 1983, Father Viktoras Šauklys, the Pastor of Girdžiai, wrote the editors of the rayon newspaper, Šviesa (The Light), as follows:
In the newspaper which you edit, (Miss) A. Svirbutavičiūtė, fantasized all sorts of non-existent things. In June, 1983, over three issues (70, 71, 72), she libeled me and vituperated churchworker (Miss) I. Jasiulytė.
The writer accused the pastor of terrible things: Of being a courier for the forest people (Post-War anti-Communist partisans — Trans. Note) and of blessing the murder of Soviet citizens. He is supposed to have celebrated Mass for bandits who perished, in a word, his past was tainted. These are truly terrible accusations.
Here is how it was in reality. The investigator was tearing his hair to trump up a case against me. Two times he took me to court, but the tribunal both times failed to find cause, and refused to try me. You should have turned down the trumped up article and if truth had been of concern to the reporter, she would have read the file, instead of fantasizing and writing things which never happened. Unfortunately, truth is unimportant to atheistic hatred.
She accuses churchworker (Miss) Jasiulytė of lacking charity. To demonstrate this, she chooses the following incident:
"When we were living in the parish of Šiupyliai, the medical center there had no paramedic. At that time, the communal farm workers used to come to (Miss) Jasiulytė for medication. Among them was citizen J.P. (Miss) Jasiulytė told him, 'Let's go to church, and afterwards I will give you your medicine.' Thus she demonstrated that she had no charity," writes the reporter. In reality, this is how it was:
That communal farm worker came for a routine dosage. He came just before services, when people had gathered for a Mass they had requested. So it was more sensible that one individual wait, rather than delay about twenty people.
So where is the misdeed or lack of charity in this?
(Miss) Jasiulytė is further accused of warning schoolchildren to beware of teachers when they go to church.
The schoolchildren know that, even without any warning. They know it because they are scolded, harassed and have their deportment marks lowered for active participation in services. Not only are the children intimidated, but also the adults.
When the churchworker invited a child to church, the newspaper again vituperated (Miss) Jasiulytė, calling her "black witch". What epithet was deserved by those who threatened children and lowered their conduct marks?
The youth go to church because Christ promises life after death. And what do the atheists promise? Nothing except eternal oblivion, while the people want life after death. This is why they avoid bankrupt and empty atheistic nonsense.
I know that you will not print this explanation, since there has never been an occasion when a libeled churchworker would have been allowed to explain himself in the press, or to retract the libel.
(The text has been shortened — Ed. Note)
Paveisininkai (Lazdijai Rayon)
On June 29, 1983, people gathered in the little church of Paveisininkai (in 1969, it was wrecked under false pretenses by the atheists) to celebrate the feasts of Saints Peter and Paul. From early morning, rayon government officials and militia were on duty at the closed doors of the church, and along the roads, border guards and auto inspection officials even prevented the faithful from getting into the churchyard. People on their way to services were intercepted along the road, and taken home. Kapčiamiestis Militia Deputy V.Kavaliukas, and Lazdijai KGB Chief A. Gylys, along with auxiliary police, ordered everyone to disperse immediately. A small group of people who made it to the churchyard tried to pray before the locked doors of the church, but officials interrupted the pray, so the congregants began to disperse.
On their way home, the following young people were detained and sentenced to fifteen days in jail: (Miss) Alma Žibudaitė, (Miss)
Laima Ramanauskaitė, (Miss) Angelina Ramanauskaitė and Vytautas Sakavičius.
On February 9, 1983, the Party organization at the Institute for the Conservation of Monuments, presented personnel of the institute with a thirty-two item multiple choice questionnaire on ideological topics. All questions, except for the first five or six, which asked identity, age, nationality, Party membership, etc., dealt with one's attitude toward religion.
"How do you picture God?"
"Do you often go to church to pray?"
"Do you observe the religious holidays? Why"
"Do you read religious literature?"
"Can religion disappear?"
"Does religion help people to preserve morality?"
"On what does the maintaining of peace on the world depend?"
"What is the purpose of your life?", etc.
Žalpiai (Kelmė Rayon)
To: the Attorney Generao of the Lithuanian SSR Copies to: Bishop L. Povilionis, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and the Diocese of Vilkaviškis
From: The Executive Committee and Faithful of the Žalpiai Roman Catholic Community of Believers.
On May 29, 1983, in Kelmė Rayon, while the principal reli-giousfeast was taking place in Žalpiai, a drunken man named Lapinskas burst into church during the services, He caused a disturbance in church seizing from peoples' hands and tearing up the protest of the faithful to the Attorney General of the USSR about freedom for the incarcerated Sigitas Tamkevičius, and the investigation of other priests, bearing the signatures of three hundred people. Women in church trying to resist were kicked and pushed by Lapinskas. When the men interfered, a serious altercation began.
The faithful, having put the hooligan out of the churchyard, wished to turn him over to the militia, but they could not summonthem since the telephone was disconnected. Then some sort of man showed up (the militia knows him), and offered to deliver the hooligan to the militia in his car. However, taking the hooligan into his car through one door, he let him out through the other. He was obviously an accomplice in the disturbance which had been cause.
Officials of Kelmė Rayon Militia and KGB, instead of hunting for and penalizing the real culprit who had caused the disturbance and panic in the church during services, began arresting and interrogating innocent people who had subdued the troublemaker.
In the Kelmė bus station that same day, they arrested the Zaipiai church organist, Regina Teresiūtė, who during the disturbance in the church, had played the organ. With her, they apprehended two boys who had served at Mass and had seen the troublemaker only when he had been expelled from the churchyard.
The next day, Kelmė Rayon militia and KGB, together with that same Lapinskas who had caused the riot in church, began looking for and questioning innocent people who had quieted the disturbance and the panic.
Who this troublemaker was began to become clear when the attorney for Kelmė, the militia and the KGB became very concerned about his health. That same day, they began looking for the culprits who had beat up Lapinskas. But is it possible, in a crowd of thousands, to locate a culprit? And the biggest culprits were Lapinskas himself and his cohorts, who had interrupted the services in church and caused such a disturbance that it was heard not only in the parish of Žalpiai, but throughout Lithuania.
If the more active faithful had not torn the hooligan from the hands of the crowd, and had not ejected him from the churchyard, the offended, annoyed and agitated crowd would have given him a lesson to remember.
We request the Attorney General of the Lithuanian SSR to take steps to apprehend the hooligan (the militia knows him), and to punish his advisors and cohorts in accordance with LSSR Criminal Code Par. 145, for causing the disturbance in church during services.
We request that you order the Kelmė Rayon Prosecutor's Office to stop the persecution of innocent believers, and to release those who have been apprehended. Surely where there is freedom of belief, the laws protecting the rights of believers, at least in church, should be inforced,
May 29, 1983
Signed by the members of the church committee and faithful, 70 in all.