See the "Save Our Lady of Vilnius" site for more photos of this event.
Today we gathered across the street from the main entrance of St. Patrick's Cathedral to commemorate Lithuanian Independence and to protest the closure of Our Lady of Vilnius by the Archdiocese of New York. Lithuanian flags and American flags were unfurled. Prints of our altar icon displayed Our Lady's beautiful face to the people as they filed out of tour buses and streamed down the steps of the Cathedral after Mass.
As we assembled, we noticed a strong police presence that became stronger as a black SUV opened and several officers wearing black helments and carrying rifles filed out. I was amazed to see such a show of force. I asked about the rifles and a fellow parishioner said that they were M16's. Suddenly I felt very formidable and dangerous as I paced back and forth carrying a picture of the Virgin Mary. Eventually the armed presence decamped.
It was a beautiful day, crystal clear and not too cold. The colors of the Lithuanian and American flags waving in the wind were very brilliant. A group of spirited singers sang "Marija, Marija" and other songs. I think that we gave the people descending the stairs of St. Patrick's something of beauty and interest to gaze upon.
Deprived of our Mass and our customary gathering, we were glad to be in each other's company. When the demonstration at St. Patrick's broke up, some of us gathered for coffee and conversation then gathered once more outside of Our Lady of Vilnius. Joy led us in the Litany of Our Lady and suggested that we go out of our way to be kind to others, especially those who annoy us,and offer up any inconvenience for the intention of the survival of our parish. She also requested that we keep Father Eugene in our prayers.
We added signs, crosses and other tributes to the impromptu shrine which is usually assiduously dismantled by the paid security guards that continue to occupy the church 24/7.
We will continue to hope, pray, work and delight in each other's presence.