Friday, January 26, 2007

Press Release:Lithuanian culture minister asks New York archbishop to preserve parish of emigrants

VILNIUS, Jan 25, BNS - Lithuanian culture minister Jonas Jucas has asked the New York archbishop not to close Lithuanian church which is important for Lithuania and Lithuanians living in the US as a historic memorial and as a center of Lithuanian culture. In the letter to the Archbishop Cardinal Edward Egan the minister has expressed the concern about the fate of the parish of Our Lady of Vilnius Church in New York. Jucas has denoted that the news about possible closing of the church was met with the sadness not only in New York but also in Lithuania. So hehas asked not to shut the door for the ethnic and cultural Lithuanian activities in Manhattan and to help to keep the Lithuanian church and cultural center which "not only contributes to the nurturance of Lithuanian background but also to the enrichment of American cultural heritage with traditions of our country.""The parish was established in 1905 and is one of the oldest and most honorable witnesses of the history of the Lithuanian community in the UnitedStates. For Lithuanian culture this parish is an important memorial ofLithuanian ethnic and religious history in the United states," the minister has written.This church has been included into the list of the immovable cultural heritage objects that are most significant to Lithuania and that are locatedin the US. This list was concluded when implementing the bilateral agreementof Lithuania and the US about the protection and preservation of cultural objects.In the appeal the minister has denoted that the parish of Our Lady ofVilnius Church has had a rebirth during the last decade, more and more youngLithuanians that come to live and work in the US cluster around it. Lithuanian Bishops Conference that also seeks to preserve Lithuanian parishes also expressed concern of the Lithuanian parishes last week. American Bishops Conference plans to close some of Lithuanian parishesbecause of economy issues. In these parishes there are very little christenings, weddings and they are not very functional as parishes but they have historic and cultural value. Lithuanian churches were built using the funds of Lithuanian communities.Vilnius newsroom, +370 5 2058531,

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