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This issue is dedicated to the late Father Juozapas Zdebskis, zealous apostle of Christ's love, and loyal son of the Nation!
In this issue:
Catholic Lithuania sincerely thanks Your Holiness for the attention you pay to the Church in our country, for your warm and encouraging words on the Feast of Saint Casimir, for your holiday greetings in the Lithuanian language, and your concern for all the affairs of our Church.
We would also like to express our deep respect and sincere dedication and loyalty to the Holy See!
On February 5, 1986, the pastor of the parish of Rudamina, one of the founders of the CaCDBR (Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights), Father Juozapas Zdebskis, was killed in an automobile collision.
On February 10, the Lithuanian State Department of Motor Vehicles reported on the television program Roads, Cars and People [Keliai, Mašinos, žmonės) that on the road between Varėna and Eišiškės, at the Valkininkai intersection, a Zhiguli , belonging to J. Zdebskis and driven by A. Sabaliauskas, crossed the center lane and collided with a milk truck. In the collision, three passengers in the Zhiguli died, and a fourth, R. Žemaitis, was injured. The cause of the collision was being invest i gated.
TASS, informing the world abroad, gave a different version of the collision: Zdebskis' Zhiguli, driven by Sabaliauskas, was passing an automobile, and crossing the center line, collided with a milk truck. At the time of the collision, Zdebskis, the driver Algis Sabaliauskas, and a woman passenger whose name was not given out, were fatally injured; Žemaitis was hospitalized. The driver of the milk truck, slightly injured, was taken to the hospital.
Father Jonas Kauneckas
In the spring of 1985, the pas tor of Skaudvilė, Father Jonas Kauneckas, wrote a complaint to Moscow regarding, in his words, the way in which KGB agents and the staffs of proseocutors' offices transgress Soviet law and their own policy decisions. Even his closest friends were unable to obtain the text of Father Kauneckas' ocomplaint, or to find out any details about that complaint. He said that he did not wish to create the possibility of retaliation for criticism , since members of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights who were sentenced had been accused of anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda because documents of the committee were also known abroad.
After the complaint, the beginning of a KGB campaign of vengeance against Father Kauneckas was clearly not iced; perhaps plans were even laid to do away with him. In the spring and summer of 1985, KGB agents in Taurage "fabricated" in all sorts of ways the priest's "offenses". In this action, not the last place was taken by Director Shevelev, and especially by KGB agent Vytautas Valantinavičius. Almost all the members of the Skaudvilė parish council were interrogated.
To: The Bishops and Apostolic Administrators of Lithuania From: Priests of the Diocese of Panevėžys
We, the undersigned, priests of the Diocese of Panevėžys, concerned that the 600-year Jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania be suitably commemorated, appeal to the bishops and administrators of dioceses of Lithuania requesting them:
1. To invite our Holy Father John Paul II to visit Lithuania for the jubilee celebration in 1987.
2. To request our Holy Father John Paul 11, on the occasion of the 600-year Jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania, to proclaim the Honorable Servant of God Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis, Blessed. To see that during the year of preparation, the believing public becomes more widely acquainted with the life, virtues and work of Archbishop Jurgis Matulai t is.
To popularize as well the veneration of Mykolas Giedraitis, who holds the title of Blessed. To acquaint the faithful also with the other great spiritual personalities of our nation: Father A. Rudamina, Father J. Pabrėža, Archbishop Mečislovas Reinys, Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis, Archbishop Vincentas Borisevičius, Father A. LipniŪnas, Professor Stasys Šalkauskas, Prof. Pranas Dovydaitis, Barbora Žagarietė and M. Pečkauskaitė...
Father Josef Svidnicki, a priest of Novosibirsk, sentenced last year, is in prison at the following address:
Novosibi rsk Kuibyshev UF 91-12 ostr. 6 brigada 61 Ind. 632350
Friends who visited him February 2, report that although Father Josef is, as always, in good spirits, his health has significantly worsened; in their words, he looks as though he had been taken down from the cross. The food is very poor, packages are looted by criminals, and recently, the priest has had a heart attack. Formerly he worked in the kitchen, but now he has been transferred to other work; he is hauling lumber. He Is allowed to see visitors only through a glass partition, and to speak to them only in Russian.
On October 24, 1985, five militiamen came to see ethnographer Jonas Ruzas, and presenting a search warrant, proceeded to carry out the search for about three hours. After that, ten KGB agents came and once more pulled the whole room apart. The chekists concealed their names; it later became apparent that one of them was named Skudas. The KGB agents confiscated a small printing press, became interested in the officially published poems of Tvardovskl, and said that they had come to confiscate and destroy the memoirs of Vaidulis and threatened Ruzas that if he did not assemble all six copies of the memoirs, he would get five years in prison. Ruzas located one or two copies of the memoirs and turned them into the KGB. After the raid, they took Ruzas and his wife away for questioning. The next day, they were interrogated again.
Gintautas Iešmantas, now in exile, writes:
"For five years now, your words and good wishes have kept me company on the difficult road of suffering. They have given me strength and the pleasure of knowing that my sacrifice has not disappeared in the darkness of anonymity, that there are people who are concerned with the fate of someone they don't know. Presently, I am in exile --since the morning of April 5-- and have the possibility of thanking you for that priceless moral support provided by your brief greetings, for the warmth of your hearts and souls which reach me in the snow-fields of the Urals, regardless of obstacles and possible unpleasantness. Of course, only part of your letters were turned over to me, and for the last year, I did not receive any of them, but I feel that they exist, helping me to live and not to lose faith and hope for even an instant. To me, they sounded like the intoxicating voice of home, so precious and dear in this unfortunate place so far away.
"For the last six months, I was in camp number 36... Father Alfonsas, as the prisoners call him, is always alert, in good spirits, full of faith and hope. I am glad that fate provided the opportunity to get acqauinted with him; he is a man of wonderful spiritual strength, a far-ranging thinker, attractively tolerant, and the impression he left will never fade from my memory. When you know that there are such people as he, it becomes easier to live, and you feel that you will bear up to the end with your spirits unbroken and ready for anything, bearing the cross of stern duty.
We sincerely thank the Baltic American Freedom League for the award conferred on us! It is a mark of appreciation for the efforts, struggles and sufferings of our whole nation, and at the same time, an incentive to harder work and greater sacrifice.
We thank all our brothers and sisters abroad who support our efforts by prayer, by the word and other possible means.
May the good God reward you!
K r e t i n g a
On February 19, 1986, Petras Paulaitis, a former long-term prisoner, a fierce fighter and noble human being, died in Kretinga after a long illness. The deceased was interred in the cemetery of Kretinga.
On August 28, 1985, Jonas Jurevičius, Methods Specialist in the Šiauliai Rayon Department of Education, was summoned before Education Department Director Krūmas. The director asked Jurevičius whether he had been to church for the funeral of his neighbor, Greičius. When the methods specialist explained that he had stopped by for a few minutes (he had left work with the permission of his immediate superior), the director threatened to discharge him from his position for alleged dereliction of duty. He said he should have done so long ago, just on account of his brother, Mečislovas Jurevičius.
A few days later, Jurevičius was again summoned to the director's office. Awaiting him here were Chairwomen Mrs. Dirvonskienė, of the rayon teachers' union, Party Secretary Mrs. Mečvienė and others. Jurevičius was told that this was no place for him to be working, and by order of Rayon party Secretary Miss Abkaitė, he was discharged from his current duties. Director Krūmas demanded that he sign a statement saying that he had resigned his duty voluntarily; otherwise the appropriate paragraph would be entered in his work permit, and he would not get work anywhere. Thus Methods Specialist Jurevičius, after working in the Education Department for seventeen years, awarded the badge of a leader in LSSR education, and citations, was forced to leave his job. Presently he is working in the Ginkūnai Elementary School as an ordinary teacher.