Tuesday, January 30, 2007
This week's "New York" magazine features David Gibson's article The Cardinal's Sins, captioned "Edward Egan did the dirty job he was hired to do with less pain than anyone thought possible. So why can’t his priests wait to get rid of him?"
A quote regarding the realignment:
"But Egan took his time with the process, spending three years on a plan and responding to appeals to spare several parishes and schools."
If you disagree about the pain, the care and the responsiveness, fire off a letter to New York magazine educating the author and the public by sharing your personal experience.
The article is also addressed by Paul Gallicho in the Commonweal Magazine blog post. The post is followed by some lively reader commentary.
This item from The Spoof got a good laugh from me, but it was such a guilty pleasure that I did not link to it directly because I thought Our Lady would disapprove.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
"Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said that the churches on the closing list already had their chance to make their case. “We believe we have acted properly, carefully, consulting at every step along the way. The decisions have been made, and there is no intention to go back on them.”"
Our Lady of Vilnius was not on the list and has not had a chance to make its case. All correspondence has been met with silence.
In todays New York Times article mentioned in the previous post, Joseph Zwilling is quoted as saying:
“We believe we have acted properly, carefully, consulting at every step along the way. The decisions have been made, and there is no intention to go back on them.”
Is the Chancery trying to bolt the door against the Holy Spirit? We should pray for illumination, ours and theirs.
A salient quote:
"In Boston, Roman Catholic officials have sought to close 83 parishes since 2004, but parishioners managed to win at least partial reprieves for about two dozen churches through a combination of appeals to the Vatican, lawsuits, sit-ins and news media attention, Mr. Borré said. "
Friday, January 26, 2007
5 short Lithuanian films
Donation at door
Sausio 27 d, sestadieni, 7.00 v.v. visus maloniai kvieciame i
Naujos kartos lietuvisko kino vakara, kuris vyks Ausros Vartu baznycios saleje,
adresu:570 Broome Street,New York, NY, 10013
Vakaro metu matysite penkis trumpametrazius filmus isLietuvisku filmu festivalio - konkurso AXX,
"Ka padare Dzonis"
Filmus pristatys dokumentiniu filmu rezisiere Ramune Rakauskaite.
Iejimo kaina: laisva auka
In a recent press release from Vilnius, Jonas Jucas, culture minister, generalizing about Lithuanian parishes, states:
" In these parishes there are very little christenings, weddings and they are not very functional as parishes but they have historic and cultural value."
Fortunately, Our Lady of Vilnius is an exception. While serving as a symbolic spiritual home for those who visit occasionally, it is also visited by approximately 30 daily communicants from neighboring office buildings on weekdays.
Most importantly, it continues to bring more people closer to God with its unique magnetism. Last Sunday after Mass, some of us were sitting with Father Eugene and talking about the uncertainty of the parish's future. Father looked up and said, "Good things are happening among the people".
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 19, 2007
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
OUR LADY OF VILNIUS PARISH WILL ALSO CLOSE
Although not a part of the realignment process, [Why not? There was a highly publicized protocol and appeal process associated with the realignment.] a decision has been made to close the Parish of Our Lady of Vilnius in Manhattan. Discussions concerning Our Lady of Vilnius began prior to the launch of the realignment process.[Again, why? Exactly when?Where is this documented? Why was this not shared with Father Sawicki and the parishioners]
Our Lady of Vilnius located at 32 Dominick Street across from the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, is a "national parish" founded in 1905 to serve Lithuanian Catholics then [ "Then" is a total inaccuracy. We (recent immigrants, visitors and descendants) are still here.] living in the New York metropolitan area. National parishes like Our Lady of Vilnius were originally established to serve large numbers of immigrants from a particular country, for instance Germany or Italy, by providing services in their native language and preserving their cultural and religious celebrations.
Sunday Mass attendance at Our Lady of Vilnius had decreased to approximately 100 parishioners, and the Mass was celebrated in English, not in Lithuanian. [The 11:15 Mass is usually celebrated in Lithuanian. The prayers are either said or sung in Lithuanian. The readings are done in Lithuanian by a native speaker and then again in English.] There were virtually no weddings or baptisms at the parish in recent years. [Three years ago the sanctuary was closed because of concerns regarding the stability of the roof. Correspondence from Father Sawicki to the Chancery requesting repairs has remained unanswered during this period. Mass has been held in the basement hall. Most people prefer to celebrate these momentous, highly photographed occasions in a Church]. Arrangements have been made with the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of Newark for the pastoral care of the Lithuanian people. Both dioceses have parishes in which Mass is offered in the Lithuanian language. [Someone should wake Cardinal Egan up at 3:00 AM, drive him to Poughkeepsie and have him take public transportation so that he can say Mass at 10:00 AM at Transfiguration in Maspeth before he endorses this one. Newark, Williamsburg and Queens are inconvenient to the point of hardship for people living outside of Manhattan. Not to mention that the Archdiocese is spurning the gift of spirituality and culture that the Lithuanian people have to offer. Where is Our Lady of the Dawn Gate? Where is "Marija, Marija"? Where is the Rupintojelis in this Archdiocese if we are closed?]
Saturday, January 20, 2007
The article and photos capture the charm, character and history of the parish. I have come to consider it "Our Lady of Vilnius 101", an introductory course or primer for the uninitiated. I will re-read it myself because it evokes the times that I spent there before the parish fell under this shadow.
I called Father Eugene tonight, seeking some advice. The first advice he gave me was to have a good dinner and go to sleep early. He will ask if I have eaten or advise me to "take the night off". I like being encouraged to treat myself better. With so many pressures and obligations, we often need reminding.
Another reason to value this place.
Good night and get a good rest to all my fellow parishioners and all you nocturnal web surfers.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thanks to The Deacon's Blog for calling attention to another media reference to the closing of Our Lady of Vilnius. "The New York Sun's" piece N.Y. Archdiocese will Close 10 Parishesgives the parish a brief reference.
I think we should all write letters to the editors of these media outlets pointing out the Archdiocese' alternate method of closing churches: neglecting them until they can mount a case for demolition. Would St. Brigid's be a candidate for demolition if the Archdiocese addressed its structural issues in a timely manner? Would Our Lady of Vilnius be a "St. Brigid's in the making" if the Archdiocese had responded to Father Sawicki's correspondence about the roof over the past three years?
As the media, local and otherwise, are abuzz with news of church closings under the realignment plan of the Archdiocese of New York, PBS has been airing the film Hand of God, which the PBS website describes as "A moving, and frankly told story of a family's confrontation with the church that betrayed them, and how they survived it all with their humanity and humor intact."
I did not see the film in its entirety because I had attended a meeting of Our Lady of Vilnius supporters. I came in at the end, where Paul Cultrera's parents are facing the closure of their beloved church.
Find a way to see this film.
1010 WINS online reports news of our closure as a footnote to the "realignment".
Also closing, but not a part of the re-alignement process, Our Lady of Vilnius in Manhattan @ 32 Dominick St.founded to serve Lithuanian Catholics (1905)"
News of our closure was not included in the press release entitled Realignment Announcement Decisions posted to the Official Archdiocese of New York website this morning. In addition, Our Lady of Vilnius was not present in another document posted to the site, Realignment Parish List.
Words of Leonard Cohen to Console and Inspire on This Saddest of Days for Many in the Archdiocese of New York
God is alive; Magic is afoot
God is alive; Magic is afoot
God is afoot; Magic is alive
Alive is afoot.....
Magic never died.
God never sickened;
many poor men lied
many sick men lied
Magic never weakened
Magic never hid
Magic always ruled
God is afoot
God never died.
God was ruler
though his funeral lengthened
Though his mourners thickened
Magic never fled
Though his shrouds were hoisted
the naked God did live
Though his words were twisted
the naked Magic thrived
Though his death was published
round and round the world
the heart did not believe
Many hurt men wondered
many struck men bled
Magic never faltered
Magic always led.
Many stones were rolled
but God would not lie down
Many wild men lied
many fat men listened
Though they offered stones
Magic still was fed
Though they locked their coffers
God was always served.
Magic is afoot. God rules.
Alive is afoot. Alive is in command.
Many weak men hungered
Many strong men thrived
Though they boasted solitude
God was at their side
Nor the dreamer in his cell
nor the captain on the hill
Magic is alive
Though his death was pardoned
round and round the world
the heart did not believe.
Though laws were carved in marble
they could not shelter men
Though altars built in parliaments
they could not order men
Police arrested Magic
and Magic went with them,
for Magic loves the hungry.
But Magic would not tarry
it moves from arm to arm
it would not stay with them
Magic is afoot
it cannot come to harm
it rests in an empty palm
it spawns in an empty mind
but Magic is no instrument
Magic is the end.
Many men drove Magic
but Magic stayed behind
Many strong men lied
they only passed through Magic
and out the other side
Many weak men lied
they came to God in secret
and though they left him nourished
they would not say who healed
Though mountains danced before them
they said that God was dead
Though his shrouds were hoisted
the naked God did live
This I mean to whisper to my mind
This I mean to laugh with in my mind
This I mean my mind to serve 'til
service is but Magic
moving through the world
and mind itself is Magic
coursing through the flesh
and flesh itself is Magic
dancing on a clock
and time itself the magic length of God.
-from the novel "Beautiful Losers" by Leonard Cohen, 1963
set as a song lyric, above, by Buffy Ste. Marie, who also composed the music, performed and recorded it.
words: Leonard Cohen
music: Buffy Sainte-Marie
© Stranger Music, Inc./Caleb Music-ASCAP
Thursday, January 18, 2007
St. Stanislaus Kostka was well in the black and is associated with a historic brick rectory with Hudson River views on a corner lot .
The Cardinal, Bishop Sullivan and others will convene at 10:00 AM tomorrow at Cathedral girls high school on First Avenue to make the public announcement of the "final" decisions. At the same time, the list of churches on the list for closure under the realignment will be displayed with the final decision as to their continued survival.
At 2:31 PM today I received an urgent e-mail from one of the trustees of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish. It announced an emergency meeting at 7:30 PM at the St. Matthew Rectory.
I Googled the news and found an item entitled Archdiocese to announce parish realignment in the "Times Herald-Record".
The brief item stated "The Archdiocese of New York is expected to announce the long-awaited final decisions on its realignment plan tomorrow. Some local pastors whose churches could be affected by the plan were aware of the pending announcement but said they still hadn't been told of their parishes' fate."
In the Spring I had learned that St. Stanislaus Kostka was placed on the list for closure from "Journal News" reporter Gary Stern, who had phoned me for my reaction.
I wonder what St. Stan's parish Administrator will tell us this evening? I'll let you know.
I hope that there will be no news about Our Lady of Vilnius Parish, because it was not included on the original realignment list, nor was it accorded the procedures associated with the publicized reconfiguration process.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
A young engineer shares his thoughts upon evaluating the sanctuary in a post entitled "Our Lady of Vilnius" in his "Walking With Wisdom" blog.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Death Knell for Parish Brings Many Gifts That I Will Fight to Preserve
Thank you for:
- The premature curtailment of liturgies at Saint Stanislaus Kostka - It gave me the opportunity to visit Our Lady of Vilnius more frequently.
- The Threat to Our Lady of Vilnius Church and Parish - It shook me out of complacency and strenghtened my love, appreciation and enjoyment of its unique gifts:
- Father Eugene's simple, direct and encouraging elucidation of the gospel
- The opportunity to pray in the same church where my father, aunts, cousins and grandparents prayed in their youth
- The beautiful, sacred and inspiring image of Our Lady of Vilnius that looks down from above the altar
- A spiritual community of village-like scale that promotes an experience of discipleship and makes the priest more available for formal and informal spiritual direction
- The funky basement where a tradition of hospitality thrives amidst memorabilia that form a living landscape of enjoyment.
- A diverse community with whom I am simpatico and united in dedication.
- The opportunity to meet and spend time with the members of NMS who have added to the aesthetics of the church, the basement, the liturgies and have added their personalities to the community
- The series of cultural events that are a springboard to the Lithuanian culture that my forebears jettisoned in the service of assimilation and upward mobility
- The opportunity to absorb the Lithuanian language by hearing it and singing it during Mass
- The opportunity to absorb the Lithuanian culture and ethos by being among Lithuanians
- The skills, focus, and knowledge that I have acquired in the process of blogging. I am now more involved in the wider world through print and electronic media. I would not be blogging were it not for your desire to close this parish.
As I listened, I was moved by their bravery and their untimely and brutal deaths. I felt a unity with the others in the room: recent and not so recent immigrants from Lithuania, descendants like myself, the Portuguese faithful and others that have been drawn to this community by the magnetism of the Holy Spirit.
The spirit of the victims lives on and is magnfied in Our Lady of Vilnius parish.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
From Annunciation Parish "Zinios":
On Sunday, January 28, 5pm, Edvinas Minkstimas will take part in an all-piano concert featuring concertos by St. Saens, Schnittke, and Prokofiev. These concerti will be performed by a solo pianist accompanied by a second pianist playing the orchestral score reduction for piano.
Edvinas will SOLO in the Schnittke Concerto, and in the St. Saens Concerto, he will be the “orchestra”.
The concert venue is The Piano Salon at Yahama Artists Services, Inc., 689 Fifth Avenue. Tickets are $30. For more information call 631-473-5220.
"Thursday night, after months of anxious waiting, more than 100 parishioners learned it would cost between $6.1 million and $9.2 million to make necessary renovations for St. George Roman Catholic Church to reopen."
“The diocese can say no, but if we can come up with the $9 million they won’t turn us down,” parishoner Anthony Wysoski said. “This is our heritage. This is our parish. We don’t want to lose this parish. If we have to raise $9 million, we will raise $9 million.”
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The Gallery of the "Parish of St. Matthew and St. Stanislaus Kostka" website contains photos depicting damage to interior spaces of either the loft or tower of St. Matthew Church. It is one of a series of photos displayed to spur contributions to the Bicentennial Appeal.
Similar photos of water damage to St. Stanislaus Kostka were displayed to parishioners in the service of impressing us with the great magnitude of damage done to our church and the heroic efforts that would be needed for its repair and restoration.
The URL is Http://stmatthewny.org. In December of 2005, the parish calendar was portentously imprinted with the above name. In Spring of 2006, the Pastor of St. Matthew and Administrator of St. Stanislaus Kostka approached the possible closure of St. Stanislaus Kostka and proposed the above name for the incorporated parish, already conveniently imprinted on the calendar.
At an advisory meeting for St. Stanislaus, some of us took exception that the possible future name of the possibly incorporated parish was already imprinted on the calendar. The 2007 calendar was duly corrected to read "The Parishes of St. Matthew and St. Stanislaus Kostka" and the weekly bulletins also bear that heading.
But look at the heading of the website? The Archdiocese has not made a decision yet, but it certainly appears that someone wants us closed. A Freudian slip, or something more conscious?
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Maybe the nobility of our lineages will impress the powers that be.
Friday, January 05, 2007
David Ushery's interview with Cardinal Egan airs in NYC at 6:30 AM, January 7, on NBC, Channel 4
"Whispers in the Loggia" blogger Rocco Palmo reports on Cardinal Egan's television interview with David Ushery, scheduled to air on Sunday morning's "News Forum".
The following paragraph addressing the "realignment" of parishes was included:
"As for the continuing reconfiguration of the archdiocese, the cardinal announced that an announcement of "what we've decided up to now" will come later this month. While most of its major moves have been "pretty much announced," among the plans in the offing is the erection of 11 new parishes for the more than 2.5 million Catholics of the archdiocese's three boroughs and seven counties."
Read the whole post at "Whispers in the Loggia."
-Robert Stone speaks of the East Village in Charles McGrath's New York Times article, Counterculture Lion, Back in His Tidy Jungle
Published: January 5, 2007
Thursday, January 04, 2007
In his "Lost City" post entitled Bring Out Your Dead!, Brooks of Sheffield places our church on his list of the "Still due to be executed."
He should come to our hall and enjoy the Monika H. concert.
Thanks to Brooks for caring and documenting the demises, near demises and resurrections of the places that contributed so much to the atmosphere of New York City.
Su Naujais Metais!!!
Sestadieni, Sausio 13 d.
kvieciame i lietuviu kilmes jazz'o dainininkes
MONIKOS HEIDEMANN koncerta
Iejimo auka: $8
Iejimas nuo 8:00PM
Koncerto pradzia: 8:30PM
Daugiau informacijos apie atlikeja rasite www.monikah.com
Monika Heidemann BandPerformance and live video shoot at Our Lady of Vilnius Church, NYC
"...MONIKA HEIDEMANN's self-released Bright is the jazz-vocal debut of the year . . . make that the jazz debut of the year . . . make that the debut of the year." -Boston Phoenix, 9/28/06
Saturday, January 13th, 2007
Our lady of Vilnius Church, 570 Broome St. NYC (mouth of the Holland tunnel)
Monika Heidemann brings her band on January 13th at 8:30PM to the Our lady of Vilnius Church in Soho, NYC for a performance and shooting of a music video to be released in April.
The music of Monika Heidemann gives a sensation of being perched on a high cliff at a perfect angle of repose, where the fall is visible but not inevitable, sitting just outside of dissonance, barely safe from chaos. Heidemann is the leader, writer, and member of this self-titled NYC based project, the Monika H. Band - now in its third year and gathering more attention than ever. Her compositions and lyrics are a platform for her band to tell the ever-changing musical story of her songs, teetering between the written music and their own playful additives and interpretations. She brings to new vocal music an unusual twist on jazz forms, improvisation, pop culture, and raw rock n' roll – all cleverly tied into her own dreamlike interpretation of the world.
Many vocalists come forth and want the world to hear their dissimilar approach, but not many of them are actually giving us anything different. Monika Heidemann is one that clearly stands above the rest. " -Inside Connection, Oct. 2006
"On her debut CD, Bright, (MH-2006) Monika Heidemann gracefully and clearly delivers her deliciously off-kilter prosody. She has cultivated her own unique style with such conviction that more than one jazz writer has proclaimed the discovery of a new genre." - New Music Box
Stories told through these modern day art-songs will be supported by a band of brilliant NYC musicians and improvisers. : Erik Deutsch-Keys, Brandon Seabrook- Guitar, Jonti Simon- Bass, Dave Treut- Drums
"Possessed of a very fine voice and an original style, I consider Monika one of the most promising and talented young musicians that I know."-Steve Lacy, Jazz Saxophone
TheDeacon responded to this with a supportive comment, links and mention of our online petition. He also published this lovely photo of Our Lady, known to him as Matka Boska Ostrobramska, with the following verse from the epic poem "Pan Tadeusz" by Adam Mickiewicz.
My fellow St. Stanislaus Kostka parishioner and consultant in all things Polish, Christine L., graciously translated the passage into modern English and went beyond:
"Lithuania! My homeland (or my fatherland, motherland, country)! you are like good health;
Only one who has lost you can learn how much you are valued,
Today I see and describe your beauty in all its splendor
Because I yearn for you.
Holy Maiden, who protects Czestochowa and who shines above Ostra Brama! You,
who shield the castle town of Nowogrod with its faithful folk!
THE VERSE CONTINUES:
As a child, you miraculously restored me to health,
(When my tearful mother placed me under your protection,
I raised my dead eyelids
And I could immediately walk barefoot to the threshold of your shrine
Coming to thank God for restoring my life.)
In like manner you will return us miraculously to the bosom of our country.
In the meantime, transport my longing soul
To those woodland knolls, to those green meadows
Stretched wide along the blue Niemen (River)....
To those fields painted with various kinds of grain,
Gilded with wheat, silvered with rye,
Where mustard like amber, buckwheat like white snow,
Where clover grows as with a maiden's blush,
And everything is girdled as with a ribbon
Of green turf, on which quiet pear trees sit..... "
N.B. "Ojczyzna" or "Fatherland" is used as a feminine noun so "homeland is a better choice!
THAT'S ALL TONIGHT! Dobra noc!!!
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
The reference to Our Lady of Vilnius is as follows:
"They’ve taken a more-or-less business approach to the problems cited. From a business perspective they need to dump under performing assets and convert those assets into ready cash. In poor Rustbelt inner cities they will roll the parish properties to unsuspecting not-for-profits, preservationists, and inner city Evangelical or Muslim missions. In larger cities those parishes represent a dead asset sitting on property valued in the millions (see the case of Our Lady of Vilnius in New York City for an example - a Lithuanian immigrant landmark)."
Another interesting quote:
"There hasn’t been much discussion of Roman Catholic megachurches, but they do exist, right in your suburban community. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research gives a nod in this direction in The Definition of a Megachurch. I have two right near me. Christ the King and St. Madeline Sophie are within 8 miles of each other and probably pull in 2,000 to 4,000 people per parish per weekend. Our parish is often visited by people who need respite from the massive crowds. They feel they have lost the intimacy of their faith."
I spoke to one of the volunteer choristers who gestured outward toward the altar and said, "Now this is a house of God." Her tone implied a definitive and exemplary house of God.
I did not share my response with her, but I thought that it was no better a house for God than Our Lady of Vilnius or Saint Stanislaus Kostka. Some people are brought closer to God by grandeur, but others among us are brought closer to God by humility, by the flawed but brave touch of humanity.
I hope that Cardinal Egan recognizes that the people of the Archdiocese of New York are as diverse as the saints that the Church has canonized and that he will leave some of these small churches standing for the benefit of those who want to see the Mystery up close and personal.
Monday, January 01, 2007
A story of disputed ownership, conflict and excommunication. Today's article by Linda Leicht in Ozarks Local News, entitled St. Stanislaus grows despite diocese fight reports on the current state of affairs and provides a brief synopsis of the history.
One of many interesting quotes:
"We are trying to redefine ourselves to be a welcoming Catholic parish of Polish heritage," Bozek said. "We want to celebrate our roots, our heritage, but at the same time we want to say if you are looking for a spiritual home, you are welcome with us." - Father Marek Bozek, Pastor