Last year, in the parish of Gervėčiai, the majority of whose parishioners are ethnic Lithuanians, the 600-year Jubilee of Lithuania's Baptism had gone unobserved. The faithful made an attempt to commemorate it at least this year. They called on Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, requesting his help (Bishop Steponavičius was born in the parish of Gervėčiai, the Village of Žiciūnai). The Bishop joined in the efforts of the faithful, personally sending a letter to Father Gvozdovich, the pastor of Gervėčiai, asking that in keeping with their request, he be permitted to officiate at the jubilee services. In their letter to the pastor, the faithful requested:
- That the ceremonies take place on May 29, 1988 (during the religious festival of the Holy Trinity), that the parishioners be notified of this in advance, that the Jubilee services start not at 11:00 as customary, but at 12:00, so that guests from Lithuania could arrive on time;
- That the picture of Blessed Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis be hung in the Gervėčiai church.
The parishioners obtained a picture of Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis and invited a guest priest from Lithuania so that the services for the occasion and the sermon might be in the tongue of their fathers and forefathers.
Father Gvozdovich, the pastor of Gervėčiai, asked the local rayon government's assent for these ceremonies. As may have been expected, the authorities refused permission. Having failed to secure approval, Father Gvozdovich did not prepare for the jubilee celebration; he also refused to hang the picture of Blessed Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis in the Gervėčiai church.
On May 29th, Father Gvozdovich told the visiting priest from Lithuania to announce that, after the services in Polish, the Lithuanians would be permitted to commemorate the Jubilee of Lithuania's Baptism at about 3:30 P.M. in the churchyard. In 1387, all ethnic Lithuania of that time was christened, meaning eastward as well, up to Lake Narutis and beyond, including Gervėčiai. Therefore, the parishioners of Gervėčiai rightly question why they have so few rights and are permitted to commemorate the jubilee of their parents' Baptism only in the churchyard; indeed, even this was announced only a few hours in advance.
Vydžiai (Byelorussia, Breslau Rayon)
In 1988, the Catholics of the Vydžiai parish petitioned the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Moscow several times, demanding that the church confiscated from them after the war be returned.
Correction Chronicle No. 77 contains an error on page 2, the article titled "Hail the Heroes of Church and Nation." On February 5,1988, in the Church of Rudamina, His Excellency Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius did not attend the commemoration of the second anniversary of the death of Father Juozas Zdebskis.
Lithuanian, remember that:
Father Sigitas Tamkevičius
Gintautas Iešmantas and others wear the chains of imprisonment so that you might be able to live and believe in freedom!