Friday, September 29, 2006

A Portal to Narnia on Broome Street


Early Sunday morning, when the streets of Hudson Square are almost empty and few cars roll down Varick, a parishioner of Our Lady of Vilnius enters Manhattan's only portal to Narnia. She is not alone, those who hear the call of Aslan are quietly amassing.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

2003 -The church had to be closed and Mass is held in the basement hall.


The church had to be closed and Mass is held in the basement hall. No weddings, funerals or baptisms have been held for the past three years. Father hears confession in the hall, staircase, closets, or out in the street.


The Villager article "'Pretzels' and 'Provolone" may lose their church" has a nice animated photo set that really captures the atmosphere of the basement and the weekday crowd. It also sets out our history and predicament quite well.

The parish is debt free. The sole problem is the church roof.



In early 2003 it was determined that the roof required repair as some of the supporting trusses had cracked. The Archdiocese was notified and insurance claim filed. Since then, all that has been dome by the Archdiocese is erect a de-icer and position a three-storey scaffold in the middle aisle of the church. The approved insurance claim money is being held by the Archdiocese. No money has been sent to the parish for making the necessary repair.

About the Only Active Lithuanian church in the Archdiocese of New York


This is the only active Lithuanian church in the Archdiocese of New York and was founded in 1905. For many years this parish church was the center of Lithuanian life. In the late 1920’s the Lithuanian community was dispersed because of the construction of the Holland Tunnel. Our roster consists of about 300 people comprising of business, neighborhood and Lithuanian people who attend Mass at this house of worship. In addition a group of Lithuanians usually comes twice a month for Lithuanian cultural events. This group has recently become affiliated with the Lithuanian American Community whose New York chairperson is one of our parishioners.

www.ourladyofvilnius.org is up and running!

http://www.ourladyofvilnius.org/index.html

Our friend Raimundas has launched this site. Visit often to see what's new and to see how you can help save this wonderful, but previously obscure parish.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Write to these Church Officials and Send a Copy to Our Rectory


WRITE
Please immediately write to any of all of the representatives of the Catholic Church listed below.

Letters should discuss the personal reasons why you attend Mass and other functions at Our Lady of Vilnius, the positive influence of Our Lady of Vilnius in the community, and why our parish should remain open.

Each letter sent is an indication of support for Our Lady of Vilnius.

Father Eugene asks that anyone who sends letters to the Church officials regarding the church closing please be sure to send a copy to the church office for the parish correspondence archive. It is very important thall all efforts to "save the church" be coordinated through the parish. Our efforts must be consolidated, that is, be a parish effort, to be effective.


Cardinal Edward Egan
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Archbishop Sambi - Vatican ambassador to the United States
Archbishop Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
Embassy of the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See
3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008

Rev. Msgr. Edmundas Putrimas, P.H. - Lithuanian Bishops'Conference Delegate
1 Resurrection Road
Toronto, Ontario M9A5G1

Copy the Rectory by mail or fax:

Address:
Our Lady of Vilnius Rectory
32 Dominick Street
New York, NY 10013

Fax:
(212) 924-6210

A Request from the Rectory for Your Action and Intervention



Our Lady of Vilnius Lithuanian R.C. Church
32 Dominick St.
New York, NY 10013
Tel. (212) 255-2648 Fax (212) 924-6210


September 26, 2006

Your action and intervention is being requested so that the Church of Our Lady of Vilnius located at 570 Broome Street, New York 10012 can be saved from closure by the Archdiocese of New York.


On July 31st 2006 Father Eugene Sawicki was notified to come to His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan’s office at the Archdiocese of New York office located at 1011 First Avenue, New York 10022 for a meeting. He was informed that the church of Our Lady of Vilnius will be closed, but not imminently.


This is the only active Lithuanian church in the Archdiocese of New York and was founded in 1905. For many years this parish church was the center of Lithuanian life. In the late 1920’s the Lithuanian community was dispersed because of the construction of the Holland Tunnel. Our roster consists of about 300 people comprising of business, neighborhood and Lithuanian people who attend Mass at this house of worship. In addition a group of Lithuanians usually comes twice a month for Lithuanian cultural events. This group has recently become affiliated with the Lithuanian American Community whose New York chairperson is one of our parishioners.


The parish is debt free. The sole problem is the church roof. In early 2003 it was determined that the roof required repair as some of the supporting trusses had cracked. The Archdiocese was notified and insurance claim filed. Since then, all that has been dome by the Archdiocese is erect a de-icer and position a three-storey scaffold in the middle aisle of the church. The approved insurance claim money is being held by the Archdiocese. No money has been sent to the parish for making the necessary repair.


The church had to be closed and Mass is held in the basement hall. No weddings, funerals or baptisms have been held for the past three years. Father hears confession in the hall, staircase, closets, or out in the street.


We are most grateful for your assistance by writing to Cardinal Egan protesting this decision to close the church. A copy of your letter will be appreciated and put into the church log. By the way, you’re welcome to come and attend religious services and pray with us.


Thank you.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Amerikos lietuviai vejami iš savo bažnyčios


An item about Our Lady of Vilnius from the Lithuanian site Delfi


The item is followed by, at present, 101 comments in a discussion thread. So many Lithuanian words! Such little time! I am only up to Lesson 4 in my Beginner's Lithuanian text!

Meanwhile, back at St. Brigid's ...

Court hears St. Brigid's could be stabilized permanently for $324K

This Irish Echo article by Peter McDermott from the September 20-26 issue informs us of the following:
  • Engineer Richard Herschlag asserts that St. Brigid's could be permanently stabilized for $324K. The Archdiocese of New York asserts that it would take $7 million.

  • "But the liveliest courtroom debate took place over the role of the five-person Board of Trustees that was supposed to oversee the governance of the 1848 church. The Archdiocese's lead attorney John Callagy said that the Catholic church was hierarchical and thus wasn't under any obligation to consult parishioners, who were not legally "members" as might be the case in other denominations." (My emphasis (bold text))

Speaking of denominations, maybe embattled parishioners should keep their bills in their wallets until this issue is clarified.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bulletin: Sunday, September 24, 2006

Parish of Our Lady of Vilnius

Church570 Broome St., between Varick and Hudson Streets
AdministratorRev. Dr. Eugene A. Sawicki, RN, JCL
Rectory32 Dominick St., NY, NY 10013
Telephone(212) 255-2648
Fax(212) 924-6210
Eucharistic Celebrations
Daily12:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday
Sunday9:00 A.M. & 11:15 A.M. (Lithuanian/English)
Holy Days12:15 PM

This Sunday, September 24, after the 11:15 Mass there will be a meeting in the hall concerning the possible closing of our church.

We ask that as many as possible from the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of Lithuania, parishioners and friends attend. This will be an opportunity for each one to show support.

Remember, each person is important. Your attendance will show how much you care and how much Our Lady of Vilnius means to you.

We regret the short notice. Please make an effort to attend. Keeping our church open means so much to so many.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Koan

What is the ethnicity of a non-ethnic church?

Arguments of the Opposition

"Why a Church Should be Demolished"
The New York Sun, 9/18/06

The New York Sun comes out with another article supportive of the Archdiocesan agenda. This author disparages and discounts the fight to save St. Brigid's. Read it and learn.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cardinal Egan, you've gotten my Irish up!

And all of my other immigrant ancestors as well! And they are all going to fight to keep Our Lady of Vilnius open.

Yes, that's right. I am Lithuanian on my father's side, but my mother's grandmother came from County Cork. My mother's grandfather came from Bavaria. If you want to quantify my ancestry, I am 1/2 Lithuanian, 1/4 Irish and 1/4 German.

Why do I love Our Lady of Vilnius? Let me count the ways:

  • Because all of my now deceased Lithuanian relatives worshipped at this church. My Lithuanian grandfather died before I was born. My Lithuanian grandmother died the night I came home from the hospital. My father, his sisters and all of his first cousins have passed on. It feels like a reunion to pray in the same space where they once prayed.
  • Because the icon of Our Lady of Vilnius is of unsurpassed beauty and I have never seen it displayed in another Archdiocesan parish.
  • Because the hymn "Marija, Marija" touches my heart. I never heard it in the Bronx parish where I was raised.
  • It is a symbol of the Lithuanian people's gift of devotion, music, art and culture to the Archdiocese of New York and to New York City.
  • It provides a spiritual home for diverse groups that are united in their love for this parish: Knights of Columbus, Knights of Lithuania, Lithuanians and Lithuanian-Americans, the Portuguese and other residents of the surrounding area, the lunch hour daily communicants.
  • It is a vibrant, living celebration of humanity: our humanity and that of Christ, our Brother.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From Annunciation Parish "ZINIOS" - Received 9/13/06

GHASTLY NEWS!


The Archdiocese of New York wants to close OUR LADY OF VILNIUS parish in Manhattan! A meeting of folk interested in helping the parish fight for its life will be held at the Lithuanian Consulate, 420 5th Avenue, on September 14 at 6pm. Elaine is leading the fight. ZINIOS reader Chris Naki is also helping. “AUSROS VARTAI” has been serving Manhattan Lithuanian Catholics for over 100 years. It is home to the Jonynas windows originally at the closed QUEEN OF ANGELS parish in Brooklyn. If you can help, HELP!

History Repeating Itself

Catholic Battles To Save Church

This "New York Daily News" article of 2/19/05 describes former activist's Tony Flood's efforts to save the now-demolished St. Ann's Church.

"Flood accuses Egan of regarding sanctuaries as nothing more than "sacramental gas stations," interchangeable and subject to the same supply-and-demand rules as secular businesses."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Our Story is told in "Amerikos Lietuvos"

Article about our church in Lithuanian-American Weekly

It's a good thing that I can visit Our Lady of Vilnius to immerse myself in the language or ask a friend to translate.

It's the only Lithuanian church in the Archdiocese of New York!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Help Save our church - "write from your heart"

September 7, 2006 - Knights of Lithuania Meet at Our Lady of Vilnius

The Knights of Lithuania met this Sunday in the Our Lady of Vilnius Church Hall after the 11:15 AM Mass. Part of the agenda was devoted to informing the assembled members of the circumstances surrounding the proposed closing of the church: the damage to the roof beams that came to light in 2004, the silence of the Archdiocese regarding the repair of the roof during the 2 intervening years and now, the Cardinal's plan to close the church. Ed Cook urged everyone to write to the Cardinal and to Rev. Msgr. Putrimas, the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference Delegate. He advised to write from the heart and say what the church means to you. Joy reminded everyone to send a copy of all letters to the Rectory of Our Lady of Vilnius. That way there is a record of the correspondence. The addresses are as follow:

Cardinal Edward Egan
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Rev. Msgr. Edmundas Putrimas, P.H.
1 Resurrection Road
Toronto, Ontario M9A5G1

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Does Someone Want Our Land ?

The story in The Villager that first presented our plight to the public quotes Zwilling, the Archdiocesan spokesman as saying "It's also not a very attractive location-right by the tunnel".

SOME BEG TO DIFFER:
  • NY Times, 8/20/06 An Apartment With a View, and a Catch: Across New York City, Some Renters Say The Angst Is Worth It Our next-door neighbor, 572 Broome Street is highlighted. Mrs. Sousa does not express very much angst. Maybe developers have decided that it is worth it, too.

  • Lofter1 on Wired New York excerpts the Villager article and annotates Zwilling's quote as follows: “It’s also not a very attractive location — right by the tunnel,” he added. (Note: Maybe not an attractive location to some, but that's not stopping others from building at the edge of the Holland Tunnel entrance.)

  • In the discussion thread that follows, Lofter1 presents 5 sites within 1 block of the church for which developments are being constructed and 2 properties within that radius that seem ripe for the picking.

Someone Wants Us Demolished - Decision Made in June


WHY?

Overheard at coffee hour: The decision to close us arose in June of this year, months after the Archdiocese released its list of churches to close under the so-called "Realignment". They also want to see our church and rectory demolished.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"...a direct attack on ordinary Catholics by the Diocesan elites."

A blogger named Gillibrand at Catholic Church Conservation has read "'Pretzels' and 'Provolone' may lose their church" and posted a supportive response that includes a photo of the hill of crosses.


This blog is devoted to church closings world wide and contains links to other Catholic sites and blogs. I will add this site to my links and revisit it often.

September 4, 2006 - A Day to Pray for Father Eugene


While surfing the net to survey our web presence, I came across a site called the Monthly Prayer Request for Priests. The New York and Boston Archdiocese participate in this apostolate. Each day is dedicated to a priest of the archdiocese. The site has a calendar showing the parish and priest for the day. Yesterday was Father Eugene's day, and quite timely. We should be praying for him every day. Visit this site and pray for our priests.

A Professionally Orchestrated Silence

Cardinal's Low Profile Attracts Attention
New York Sun,July 28, 2006

And well it should. I learned from this article that the archdiocese employs the public relations firm of Howard Rubenstein to do just that. Click on the link to learn more about this firm.

The article contrasts Cardinal Egan's public persona with those of past Archbishops Cooke and O'Connor, spinning the Cardinal's apparent remoteness into a triumph of substance over style. The evaluations of Cardinal Egan's performance presented in the article are, not surprisingly, uniformly positive. One of those quoted is Mr. Rubenstein himself, whose public relations firm handles press for George Steinbrenner as well as for the Archdiocese.

In this piece Egan is lauded for erasing the New York Archdiocese's $20,000,000 annual operating deficit. The article paraphrases Father Richard John Neuhaus, who praises the Cardinal "for facilitating a smooth church realignment, including school closings, which has been "relatively peaceful" when compared to diocese shake-ups in cities like Boston, Detroit and Cleveland.""

There's nothing like a professionally orchestrated silence.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bulletin: Week of September 3, 2006, 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parish of Our Lady of Vilnius
570 Broome St., between Varick & Hudson Streets


Eucharistic Celebrations
Daily 12:15 PM Monday through Thursday
Sundays 9:00 AM & 11:15 AM (Lithuanian/English)
Holy Days 12:15 PM

There is no news regarding the closing of our church. Fr. Eugene asks that anyone who sends a letter to the Cardinal regarding the church closing please be sure to send a copy to the church office. It is very important that all efforts to "save the church" be coordinated through the parish. Our efforts must be consolidated, that is, be a parish effort, to be effective.

I sought my God
My God I could not see;
I sought my soul
My soul eluded me:
I sought my brother
And I found all three.

Author unknown
By Lamplight
Dunedin Press, 2002

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Prayerful March in the East Village Visits the Endangered and the Already Demolished

The Villager continues its coverage of dedicated Catholics trying to save the churches of lower Manhattan in their article "Prayerful march to save what's left of East Village churches"

A procession of parishioners, community leaders and others who care participated in a prayerful march to sites that included St. Mary Help of Christians, St. Brigid's, Most Holy Redeemer, Church of the Nativity and the site of St. Ann's, which has already been demolished.

Notable quotes:
"Joseph Zwilling, spokesperson for the archdiocese, was unavailable at press time for comment, but he has previously said the archdiocese intends to use the properties for other Catholic purposes and does not intend to sell them."

"But Gaglio noted that Extell, a major residential developer, has acquired 17 rent-regulated buildings between E. 14th and E. Houston Sts., including two properties at 191 Avenue A and 444 E. 12th St. next to Mary Help of Christians Church.

“Extell bought those two buildings in February just two months before the announcement of the closure of our school and church. We feel this is not just coincidence,” Gaglio said.""

Recognizing the Sacred

Today, in his New York Times column "Articles of No Value, Beyond Faith", Dan Barry profiles Patti Kelly, a stained glass restorer and supporter of the effort to save Saint Brigid's church. Once again, he gets to the heart of the matter to convey the magnitude of loss that stands to occur at the hands of the Archdiocese.

Friday, September 01, 2006

How to Make an Appeal II: E-mail Pope Benedict!

E-mail Pope Benedict XVI - benedictxvi@vatican.va

Please make the subject line of your e-mail:

Our Lady of Vilnius, NYC - Appeal

How to Make an Appeal I: Write!

This content is adapted from St. Mary's Church in Newburgh, NY, a church on the Archdiocesan realignment list which has mounted an exemplary appeal.

WRITE
Please immediately write to any of all of the representatives of the Catholic Church listed below.

Letters should discuss the personal reasons why you attend Mass and other functions at Our Lady of Vilnius, the positive influence of Our Lady of Vilnius in the community, and why our parish should remain open.

Each letter sent is an indication of support for Our Lady of Vilnius.

Father Eugene asks that anyone who sends a letter to the Cardinal regarding the church closing please be sure to send a copy to the church office. It is very important thall all efforts to "save the church" be coordinated through the parish. Our efforts must be consolidated, that is, be a parish effort, to be effective.

Monsignor Sullivan - head of the realignment committee:

Very Rev. Dennis J. Sullivan, D.D., V.G.
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Archbishop Sambi - Vatican ambassador to the United States
Archbishop Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
Embassy of the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See
3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008

Encouragement from Our History



"...let us thank God the Almighty for sparing this church many times in the past. The construction of the Holland Tunnel in the early twenties, the Great Depression of the early thirties, World War I, II the Korean and Vietnam wars. These indeed had left it with scars and loss of membership. But like the Phoenix we are survivors and rise from the ashes awaiting our 100 anniversary. As experience has already proven, we can rest assured that Our Lady of Vilnius – The Worker of the Aušros Vartai will lead us and our future heirs to a brighter day...."