Saturday, October 28, 2006

Upcoming Event in Our Lady of Vilnius Church Hall


Lapkricio 4d. sestadieni 6 valanda vakare i naujo lietuvisko filmo perziura:

"Dievu Miskas"

Ausros Vartu baznycios saleje 570 Broome Street, Manhattan, New York 10013
Auka prie duru.

November 4, 2006 - 6:00 PM

Screening of Lithuanian film "The Forest of Gods"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

More About the Anonymous Letter

Cardinal Egan addresses the anonymous letter is his Catholic New York column

Cardinal's letter baffles local priests, sparks more debate
Gary Stern reports on Cardinal Egan's most recent response to the anonymous letter in today's Journal News

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sign the Online Petition for Our Survival

Visit Save Our Lady of Vilnius to read and sign the new online petition to Cardinal Egan that Raimundas has launched.

Use the "Comments" field to explain why Our Lady of Vilnius is important to you.

Word on Broome Street

A neighborhood resident tells me that a player for the Cleveland Cavaliers has purchased a part-time residence in New York. Could the Worker of Aušros Vartų be sending us Zydrunas Ilgauskas?

If you know him, please reach out to him and ask for his help.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Friday at Our Lady of Vilnius: Recounted by Me

Last night's reception in the basement dancehall of Our Lady of Vilnius featured Veronika Povilioniene un-wimpled and Blezdinga in their street clothes. Ms. Povilioniene immediately became my idol, only in part because I, too, am an alto and have the same haircut. I was inspired by her warmth, vitality and skill.

As I arrived, the group was leading a group of small, enthusiastic children in singing, dancing and pantomime games. The adults ringed the dance floor clapping and singing along, sometimes jumping up to join the fun. A tiny blonde party animal in a striped shirt danced and clapped with contagious exuberance. I was touched to think that my father probably did the same thing at the same age in this very room.

After the children's games, the ensemble performed a set. It was my first exposure to Lithuanian folk music and I loved it. From my frame of reference, I could only liken certain elements to Sacred Harp, sea chanties and Bulgarian Women's Radio Choir. The audience sang along and swayed with the tide of powerful rhythm.

After the final ovation after the "mini-concert", dancing began accompanied by accordion and drum. Lithuanians and others in all sorts of attire, from native dress to proto-punk two-stepped, twirled,clapped, bowed and curtsied.

Like most things that happen here, it was old, it was modern and it was timeless.

Veronika Povilioniene and Blezdinga: Thursday's Performance Reviewed by Times

Read review

Jon Pareles, the reviewer, provided the following timely words of historical and cultural context:

"Lithuania, along with its adjoining Baltic states Latvia and Estonia, broke from the Soviet Union as the 1990’s began in what is called the Singing Revolution. Its citizens affirmed a local heritage and defied Russian domination by gathering nonviolently to sing, sometimes in the face of Soviet troops."


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Friday: The Party Continues at Our Lady of Vilnius Church Hall

On Friday, October 20th, a reception for Veronika Pavilioniene and Blezdinga will take place in the lower hall of Our Lady of Vilnius Church, 570 Broome Street.

The theme of the evening will be a Lithuanian country-side get together with authentic food and drink. Come in national costume if you want! Invite your friends and neighbors!

The evening will begin at 7:00 PM with about an hours worth of participatory games for children. After that will be a Lithuanian hoedown for the young at heart!

Come take a stand by participating in this event!

Thursday: Lithuanian Folk Ensemble at Leonard Nimoy Thalia

Celebrated singer Veronika Povilioniene, Lithuania’s leading folk singer, will make her first New York appearance with the Blezdinga ensemble, which is noted for its distinctive harmonies and ancient style of singing. Ms. Povilioniene, who has performed and researched traditional songs for 40 years, has an extensive repertoire that includes songs from her native Dzukija. Blezdinga, specializing in the “country style” of singing, will play traditional Lithuanian instruments and perform regional dances.

Presented by World Music Institute and the Consulate General of Lithuania in New York

Tickets: $25;Members, Children $21; Students $15
Venue: Leonard Nimoy Thalia

Oct 19, 2006, 8:30pm
TICKETS ARE LIMITED AND GOING FAST! Call Symphony Space at 212-864-5400, or go to their website at

Monday, October 16, 2006

Our Lady of Vilnius Album: A Wonderful Slide Show

While surfing the net I came across Vita's Our Lady of Vilnius album at

There are photos of the church, including some very nice detail shots. There are also many shots of people and everyone looks as attractive as they are in real life. Viewed as a slide show, it really makes you feel like you are there.

Words of Encouragement for Our Lady of Vilnius from Visitors from Points North

This Sunday I brought two guests to Mass. After Mass I showed them the church, then they returned to the basement hall to drink coffee and mingle. Today I received the following message in an e-mail:

Hi there: That was fun yesterday. Bruce and I enjoyed meeting the flock and its shepherd.The place upstairs and down hums of history, camaraderie, earthly and spiritual ,and is worth fighting for.. .

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Numbers Cannot Express the Value of Our Parish

After Mass today we were discussing the criteria by which the Archdiocese evaluates a parish (aka the "Realignment Guidelines"). We were trying to see how we could come up with more: more registered parishioners, more weddings, more baptisms.

At this point, Father Sawicki stepped forward to affirm the value of our parish.He cited:

  • The daily 12:10 PM Eucharist attended by the local office workers and residents, adding that if Our Lady of Vilnius was not here, these people would not be able to attend Mass within the time constraints of their lunch hour.
  • Confessions heard and counsel given around the clock. Father added, on a personal level that could not occur in a mega-church.
  • Weddings, baptisms and funerals of parishioners that have been held in other churches because our sanctuary has been closed for 3 years.
  • Private weddings
  • Social gatherings where people get to know each other, where bonds are formed and where a community of people who respect and help each other is forged.

To which we could all agree and offer our thanks to God for the great gift and privilege of being here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Anonymous Archdiocesan Priests Express Criticism of Cardinal Edward Egan in Letter


A group of priests criticize Cardinal Egan,characterizing his relationship with them as "defined by dishonesty, deception, disinterest and disregard."

Maybe this could be an opportunity for the disconsolate among the laity to express and act on their views as well.

Blogger Rocco Palmo prints the letter in its entirety in Mutiny in the Big Apple, an entry in his blog, Whispers in the Loggia

Lower Hudson Valley newspaper The Journal News provides a detailed account that includes an excerpt from the letter.

TheNew York Daily News provides a terser account that includes some Archdiocesan damage control from Joseph Zwilling.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Our Lady of Vilnius is on the Census of Places that Matter

Place Matters is a collaborative effort of City Lore and The Municipal Art Society formed out of shared concerns about the places of value disappearing around them in New York City. Their goal is to foster conservation of New York City's historically and culturally significant places. The "Census of Places that Matter" was conceived as a means of learning how and why "place" is meaningful to people.

At the suggestion of fellow parishioner Ellen, who had nominated another place (Laguardia Corner Gardens), I nominated Our Lady of Vilnius and it is now on the Census

You can find our entry by going to Place Matters and clicking the link to "Census of Places that Matter". Enter "church" as keyword, "Manhattan" as borough and "West Village" as neighborhood. A link to our entry will appear in a table at the right. A place can(and ours should!) receive more than one nomination. Anyone's input will be added to our entry, after review and approval.

Please visit the site often and view the Census. If you love Our Lady of Vilnius,I am sure that other places on the list will resonate with you as well.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Father Eugene Sawicki, RN, from a Nursing Perspective

In 2001 an interview with Father Sawicki was included in an anthology called "Nursing Leaders Speak Out: Issues and Opinions".

Reviewer Nancy O. DeBasio subsequently wrote:

"An interview with Dr. Eugene Sawicki, who blends the role of priest and caregiver, was of particular interest to this reader. His perspective provides new breadth and depth to the notion that nursing must intervene at a spiritual level. Without presenting theological dogma, Dr. Sawicki challenges the reader to consider what it means to be human, what the mystery of the universe is, and how all this affects us. His blended role, or dual career, incorporates a spiritual dimension that is often given mere lip service by others in nursing."

from Nursing Education Perspectives, Volume 23(1), January/February 2002, pp. 34-35.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Our Current Musician: Edvinas Minkstimas

On the Sundays when he is not concertizing elsewhere, Edvinas Minkstimas coaxes a beautiful Communion meditation out of the battered old grand piano in the church's basement hall.

He gamely leads and accompanies a casual pool of singers through the Ordinary of the Mass in Lithuanian and the customary recessional hymn, "Marija, Marija".

Edvinas is a doctoral candidate at Juilliard and a nice guy with a good sense of humor (with that piano, it's a necessity!)

Last year I had the pleasure of hearing him play a fine instrument on the stage of Alice Tully Hall. The "New York Times" favorably reviewed his performance in del Aguila's 'Conga Line in Hell'.

You can read more about Edvinas, including bio, photos and sound clips on his website,

In Memory of Aldona Kepalaite

Sunday's Mass was offered in memory of Our Lady of Vilnius' organist, Aldona, on the second anniversary of her death. Pink carnations were placed on the piano and her name circled in red ink and surrounded by hearts in the bulletin that was left next to the flowers.

I arrived on the scene one year too late to have met Aldona and three years too late to hear her play the organ in the now desolate sanctuary, but I have heard her mentioned often.

I stumbled across this picture of her on the web site of the Bronx Conservatory of Music, of which she was a founding member. Her musical resume can be read on this site.

For its size, Our Lady of Vilnius, has attracted surprising talent.

Upcoming Events in Our Lady of Vilnius Church Hall

I previously posted on these events in Lithuanian with a cut and paste from an e-mail from Gintare. Below I've done another cut and paste from Raimundas at Save Our Lady of Vilnius, who has put up information on the events and the sponsoring organization in English.

"New Yorkers By Our Side" (Niu Jorkieciai Salia Musu) which has brought a renewed energy to a part of the community often seen as difficult to reach. Inevitably, this group, although secular, is serving to raise interest in the church's activities and bringing new involvement and increased attendance at church services, as well.


10/13/06 8pm-Students of renowned Lithuanian jazz master Vladimir Chekasin reunite for a very special live concert of original compositions entitled, appropriately, "Reunion." Suggested donation at the door is $10. Organizer: New Yorkers By Our Side.

10/20/06-As a continuation of a concert the previous day at Symphony Space in New York City, organized by the Lithuanian Consulate and the World Music Institute, Veronika Povilioniene brings her folklore ensemble "Blezdinga" to Our Lady of Vilnius parish hall. There will be a program tailored to kids at 7pm, followed by music and discussion aimed at grown-ups at 8. Organizer: New Yorkers By Our Side.

Visit Save Our Lady of Vilnius for information about our parish and our cause. It is more comprehensive and less opinionated than my blog, and important information doesn't float to the bottom!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Educate and Inform the Archdiocese about Our Lady of Vilnius Parish - Write!

Some people who have written to the Archdiocese in support of our parish have received replies indicating that the Archdiocesan officials do not yet have an appreciation of our spiritual and cultural vitality and our value. If you have received such a reply, please write again to say that you disagree and why. If you have not yet written, please write and explain what Our Lady of Vilnius means to you and how its closing would affect you.

Cardinal Edward Egan
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022

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

Salutation: Dear Bishop Sullivan
Ending: Respectfully

Bulletin: Sunday, October 8, 2006, Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

The Archdioces would like to remind the faithful of the custom of having a Mass offered when someone dies and of bringing a Mass card to the wake. Masses can also be offered for other intentions: the sick, a birthday, wedding, - or just as a gift for someone. Holy Mass is the perfect offering for someone!

During the past week another engineer and photographer from the Archdiocese were up on the scaffolds checking the church roof.

Laima and Ramute attended the annual meeting of the Lithuanian-American Community in Philadelphia last weekend. They were promised the support (letter writing) and prayers of many. They ask for prayers for another church, St. George's in Shenandoah, Pa., the first Lithuanian Church in the U.S., which has been closed. They are hoping to have it reopened.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Relevant Digression: " Emptiness That Lingers"

This icon sits among many other things on the office mantelpiece of Our Lady of Vilnius.

Today, in his "New York Times" column entitled Five Years On, An Emptiness That Lingers, Dan Barry visits the site of Dorothy Day's five-year-gone bungalow on Staten Island, referring to its destruction as "the scene of an old crime against spirituality". The tone, the descriptions, the reminiscences of a neighbor all put me very much in mind of Our Lady of Vilnius. I can imagine Dorothy Day pulling up a chair after Mass and talking to Father Eugene. It's just that kind of place.

I pray that there will not be an emptiness that lingers on Broome Street, and that Dorothy's image will rest on the mantelpiece for many years to come.

Marquette University has an online exhibit called Dorothy Day: The Staten Island Years that features pictures and letters from her youthful years on Raritan Bay.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Upcoming Events in Our Lady of Vilnius Church Hall

Please note: After spending some quality time with my Lithuanian dictionary, I will repeat the post in English. Meanwhile, it's music, it's at Our Lady of Vilnius Church Hall. October 13 at 8:00 PM and October 20 at 7:00 PM.

Spalio 13 penktadieni 8 valanda vakare
i Vladimiro Cekasino dziazo mokiniu
susitikusiu Niujorke originaliu kompoziciju koncerta


Gleb Vascenko *saksafonas
Dalius Naujokaitis = mušamieji
Vladislav Borkovski #bosinë gitara
Bill Ware (vietinis) +vibrofonas

Ausros Vartu baznycios saleje
570 Broome Street, New York, New York 10013
Siuloma auka $10.

Penktadieni, Spalio 20, kvieciame koncerto aptarimui ir pabendravimui su Veronika Povilioniene bei "Blezdingos " dainininkais i Ausros Vartu baznycios sale. Susitikimas prasides 7:00PM su vaikams skirta programa. Veliau pereisime prie mus dominanciu temu bei muzikos pavyzdziu. Platinkite,prasau, siuos pranesimus savo draugams , giminems ir pazistamiems. Aciu ir iki greito. NSM

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Father Eugene Sawicki - The Heart of Our Lady of Vilnius Parish

"The term "Renaissance Man" is often bandied about, but there are very few men who truly warrant that description. Rev. Dr. Eugene Sawicki is among them."

So begins Father Sawicki's bio on the Mercy College web site.

The profile goes on to describe the 7 advanced degrees he earned after his 1970 graduation, his service in the New York State National Guard and the FDNY and his licensure as a Registered Nurse.

Click here to read the whole bio

Father Sawicki wears his accomplishments lightly, moving among us with warmth and humor, using his knowledge and experience to help, encourage and inspire.

With his Lithuanian and Polish ancestry, his working class roots and his quiet erudition, he stands in the tradition of Father Šeštokas, Our Lady of Vilnius' founding worker/priest.

He is the embodiment of our tradition and the heart of our parish.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More Buzz From Lithuania

Paskutinę lietuvišką bažnyčią Niujorke gali perpirkti milijardierius D.Trumpas

Always surfing to find news abroad about our baznycios. I'm not entirely sure what this means, but I can certainly figure out "Trumpas" and "skandolo".

Read, learn and tell me what it means!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Architectural Firm Hired By The Archdiocese Visits Our Sanctuary

"You can observe a lot just by watching"

Father Eugene credited Yogi Berra with these words in a parish bulletin dated 1998. I scanned this historical artifact as two representatives of Thornton-Tomasetti climbed the scaffold and disappeared into the hole above the ceiling. There was a lot of tech talk about trusses, floor joists, ceiling joists and piers. Measurements were made and pictures were taken. From their dialogue emerged two sentences that I understood clearly:

"This is not for repair"


"No water is getting in. This is dry."

When asked about their objectives, they responded that we would have to contact their project manager.

Realignment of the Archdiocese of New York: Apparently no news is news!

Local Churches Await News of Their Fate

Aside from Our Lady of Vilnius, which the Archdiocese would like to close by means of cultivated decripitude and desuetude, more than 50 other churches are candidates for closure under the archdiocesan realignment program.

Today's article out of Newburgh in the "Times Herald-Record" remarks that September 30, the anticipated deadline for the announcement of church closures, came with neither a bang nor a whimper.

What's going on?

Lunch Hour Mass at Our Lady of Vilnius

Memorial of the Guardian Angels

Yesterday I took the day off and went to help out at Our Lady of Vilnius. I was glad to have the privilege of attending the 12:10 PM Mass. Father Eugene spoke of the angels that move among us, for the most part unseen, to guide us and protect us.

How fortunate are the people that file into this basement on their lunch hours for this Eucharist. They can leave refreshed and fortified by the Blessed Sacrament and these words of encouragement every day.

May the angels protect and preserve this oasis of peace and hope in the work days of these people.