Friday, March 30, 2007

Cardinal Egan's Retirement Cliffhanger is Eclipsed by a Confection

Today, when I submitted "Cardinal Egan" to Google News search, the first 175 references cite his response to a now infamous milk chocolate effigy. Gee, and I was looking for speculation regarding Pope Benedict's response to his resignation. Go figure!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Fight for Our Church: A Visitor's View

On February 28, the day after our church was taken from us, a young man from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada came to New York to audition for the Juilliard School of Music. He encountered Our Lady of Vilnius and joined us in our vigil on March 3. The man, Taddes Korris, writes about his experience among us in a post titled Lithanians fight for their NY church. The piece is captioned "Edmonton student witnesses an ethnic congregation's solidarity with its tempered faith" and appears on the "Western Catholic Reporter," a Canadian site.

I found the perspective interesting and the article very moving and encouraging.

Taddes, I hope you get the gig and follow Alekna and Minkstimas to Juilliard. It will be a pleasure to have you among us again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Commonweal comments on the manner in which Our Lady of Vilnius was closed

The March 23, 2007 (Volume CXXXIV, Number 6) of Commonweal Magazine features a piece by Grant Gallicho entitled Shutting the Door: How Not to Close a Parish.

Similar content was posted to the "dotCommonweal" blog on February 27, 2007 under the title That's one way to close a parish. This post includes the text of the New York Post article "Holy Shut!", the archdiocese' press release and video of the February 26, 2007 candlelight vigil. It is followed by a lively forum of 36 comments.

Mr. Gallico does not address the Cardinal's decision to close our parish, just the manner in which it was done.

NY Post Lets Cat Out of the Bag: Our Lady of Vilnius Canonical Appeal

Today's New York Post piece, Rome or Bust! reveals that we have submitted an appeal and educates the public to the canonical process.

Jellybean has been keeping mum about this, although he must have overheard something. We'll have to wait until after midnight next Kucios to get the scoop from him.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New York Times cover story provides Our Lady of Vilnius parishioners with inspiration and example

One of the cover stories of the New York Times this morning depicted a small building elevated on a mound of dirt in a construction pit, like a shabby castle marooned in an oversized and unfilled moat. The story, Homeowner Stares Down Wreckers, at Least for a While by Howard French describes how a woman has managed to hold off powerful developers for 2 years and counting. Salient quotes:

"For weeks the confrontation drew attention from people all across China, as a simple homeowner stared down the forces of large-scale redevelopment that are sweeping this country, blocking the preparation of a gigantic construction site by an act of sheer will."

"Then, in a way that is common in China whenever an event begins to take on hints of political overtones, the story virtually disappeared from the news media after the government, bloggers here said, decreed that the subject was suddenly out of bounds."

"What drove interest in the Chongqing case was the uncanny ability of the homeowner to hold out for so long. "

I urge everyone to read this article, because we need to harness this uncanny ability. Wu Ping will continue to be in my prayers and in my blog. Thanks to the New York Times for bringing her to our attention.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Today's Vigil at Our Lady of Vilnius

Today we clustered around the front of the church at noon, as we intend to do for the duration. New signs and crosses were added to the hill of crosses that is usually dismantled after our departure. Today Saul brought provisions and equipment and put coffee up to brew while we said our prayers. His wife, Grazina, also brought home made fruit squares, sweet and buttery.

Joy once again led us in prayer, today the Memorare. She brought us back in time to early August, when we first heard that the church had been marked for closure. At that time, Father Eugene had said that this is a church of Our Lady, and, if it is Her will, it will remain open. Joy also recalled the wedding at Canaa, remarking that Jesus performed the miracle of the wine at his Mother's urging. She said that we must ask Our Lady to pray for us, to ask Her to request her Son's help in saving our church. We then prayed the Litany of Loreto, in English today, and sang "Marija, Marija." She also reminded all assembled that these vigils were not a substitute for Mass. It is comforting to have Joy looking after our souls.

Some came and some left as we lingered, drinking coffee and talking as we had usually done in the basement hall. Rita brought bread, cheese, sausage and other provisions and led toasts and songs.

At one point a priest with a walking cane and a retinue of four Poles sauntered down the block. He introduced himself as a priest of the Polish National Church and said that he had just come by to look at our church, but had not expected to meet the parishioners. We offered them refreshments and they lingered.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Our Lady of Vilnius, 9/11 and "Reign Over Me"

Today I went to see "Reign Over Me". As Adam Sandler zoomed through the streets of Manhattan on his motorized scooter, I hoped that I would see Our Lady of Vilnius. Our church seemed so much in spirit of the city presented as the backdrop to this story of 9/11, post-traumatic stress, heartbreak and love.

As the theme unfolded, my mind wandered to another piece of film, one shown by Fox, Channel 5, the day after Our Lady of Vilnius was locked.

The young woman, Maureen Meehan, says, "After September 11 this is where we all came. We all just came here and he [Father Sawicki] came out on the steps and talked to us and held our hands."

The church and the parish should continue to stand on the strength of this alone.

Friday, March 23, 2007

"The Villager" keeping us in the public eye

Thanks to the folks at The Villager/Downtown Express for keeping an eye on us and keeping us in the public eye. In the latest issue, they present a brief item titled Lithuanian protest describing our demonstration at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Leonard Cohen and Judy Collins duet on Cohen's song "Suzanne."

Well, I find it consoling.

With Jesus in the desert for Lent

It is only 3 weeks since I last received Communion from Father Sawicki under the disco ball in Our Lady of Vilnius basement, but it feels much longer. Since I can no longer attend the Eucharistic Celebration formerly held there, I am sadly fulfilling my Sunday obligation at the most convenient time at any nearby parish to which I do not belong.

Now that Father Eugene is not standing before us, on Sundays at noon, Joy leads us in prayer in front of the locked church and offers a few words of direction regarding our prayer.

After our unwitting last Mass on February 25, after Father announced his meeting with the Cardinal the next day, Ray asked us all to stop and say a prayer for Father and our parish at 9:00 AM, the time of the anticipated meeting. I did, and I think we all did.

I am asking everyone: all parishioners and all who care about us and our cause to unite with us in prayer at 12:00 PM every Sunday as we join Joy in front of our church and Jesus and Father Eugene in the desert for a Lent of unclear duration.

Erin go Bragh, St. Brigid's: Still Hanging In!

New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer lets us know:

"East Village: Beloved St. Brigid's Church has been spared the Catholic archdiocese's wrecking ball yet again—at least for a few more months. [The Villager]

Keep an eye on our predecessor in planned decrepitude and keep them in your prayers.

Friday, March 16, 2007

And uptown, on March 11....

Our Lady Queen of Angels, founded as a German national parish.

Meanwhile, across town...

Today, on the eve of St. Patrick's day, the New York Sun published an opinion by David Garrard Lowe entitled, Remember St. Brigid. It is a loving review, perhaps a eulogy, that traces the history of the parish up to the present brink of demise. Most salient quote:

"Brigid was famed for the abundance of her miracles. Now this monument of Irish faith and pluck awaits its fate. Its voice is stilled by the removal of its organ, mass no longer is allowed, and its high altar has been hauled away. Its handsome carved ash pews, once filled with seamstresses and longshoremen, have vanished. How ironic that a church built to express the jubilant survival of a faith suppressed in Ireland should, in America, be swept away by the Catholic Church." [my emphasis]

And how ironic that a church built to express the survival of a faith suppressed in Lithuania should, in America, be swept away by the Catholic Church.

Has a pattern developed in our archdiocese?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Švč. Mergelės Marijos litanija

Kyrie, eleison! Christe, eleison! Kyrie, eleison!
Kristau, išgirsk mus! Kristau, išklausyk mus!

Tėve, dangaus Dieve, pasigailėk mūsų!
Sūnau, pasaulio Atpirkėjau, Dieve, pasigailėk mūsų!
Šventoji Dvasia, Dieve, pasigailėk mūsų!
Šventoji Trejybe, vienas Dieve, pasigailėk mūsų!

Šventoji Marija, | melski už mus!
Šventoji Dievo Gimdytoja,
Šventoji Mergelių Mergele,
Motina Kristaus,
Motina Bažnyčios,
Motina Dievo malonės,
Motina tyriausioji,
Motina skaisčiausioji,
Motina nepalytėtoji,
Motina nesuteptoji,
Motina meilingoji,
Motina stebuklingoji,
Motina geroji patarėja,
Motina Sutvėrėjo,
Motina Išganytojo,
Mergele išmintingoji,
Mergele garbingoji,
Mergele šlovingoji,
Mergele galingoji,
Mergele maloningoji,
Mergele ištikimoji,
Teisybės paveiksle,
Išminties soste,
Mūsų linksmybės priežastie,
Dvasios inde,
Garbės inde,
Įstabusis maldingumo inde,
Paslaptingoji rože,
Dovydo bokšte,
Balčiausiasis bokšte,
Aukso namai,
Sandoros skrynia,
Dangaus vartai,
Aušros žvaigžde,
Ligonių sveikata,
Nusidėjėlių gynėja,
Nuliūdusiųjų paguoda,
Krikščionių pagalba,
Karaliene angelų,
Karaliene patriarchų,
Karaliene pranašų,
Karaliene apaštalų,
Karaliene kankinių,
Karaliene išpažinėjų,
Karaliene mergelių,
Karaliene visų šventųjų,
Karaliene be gimtosios nuodėmės pradėtoji,
Karaliene į dangų paimtoji,
Karaliene šventojo rožinio,
Karaliene šeimos,
Karaliene taikos,

Dievo Avinėli, kuris naikini pasaulio nuodėmes,
atleisk mums, Viešpatie!
Dievo Avinėli, kuris naikini pasaulio nuodėmes,
išklausyk mus, Viešpatie!
Dievo Avinėli, kuris naikini pasaulio nuodėmes,
pasigailėk mūsų!

TAVO APGYNIMO ŠAUKIAMĖS, * šventoji Dievo Gimdytoja! * Mūsų maldų neatmeski mūsų reikaluose, * bet nuo visokių pavojų mus visados gelbėk. * Mergele garbingoji ir palaimintoji, * mūsų Valdove, mūsų Tarpininke, mūsų Užtarėja, * su savo Sūnumi mus sutaikink, savo Sūnui mus paveski, * savo Sūnui mus atiduoki!

Meski už mus, šventoji Dievo Gimdytoja!
Kad taptume verti Kristaus žadėjimų!

Melskimės. Meldžiame tave, Viešpatie Dieve, Švenčiausiajai Mergelei Marijai užtariant, leisk mums, savo žmonėms, išsigelbėti iš dabartinių sielvartų, visados džiaugtis sielos bei kūno sveikata ir gėrėtis amžinąja linksmybe. Prašome per Kristų, mūsų Viešpatį. Amen.

Prayer: The Litany of Loreto

"Early in the eighteenth century there was yet another fire in Vilnius. When the image survived once again, the Carmelite fathers built a special shrine chapel for it above the gate in 1706. Since that year, people come to this chapel daily to recite the litany of Loreto before the image…"

Led by Joy, we have recited it every Sunday in front of our locked church. I am going to start praying it daily.

Click here to visit a site that displays the litany with links to explanations of each of Our Lady's titles and additional prayers.

Lord have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mother of God, pray for us
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us
Mother of Christ, pray for us
Mother of divine grace, pray for us
Mother most pure, pray for us
Mother most chaste, pray for us
Mother inviolate, pray for us
Mother undefiled, pray for us
Mother most amiable, pray for us
Mother most admirable, pray for us
Mother of good counsel, pray for us
Mother of our Creator, pray for us
Mother of our Redeemer, pray for us
Virgin most prudent, pray for us
Virgin most venerable, pray for us
Virgin most renowned, pray for us
Virgin most powerful, pray for us
Virgin most merciful, pray for us
Virgin most faithful, pray for us
Mirror of justice, pray for us
Seat of wisdom, pray for us
Cause of our joy, pray for us
Spritual vessel, pray for us
Vessel of honor, pray for us
Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us
Mystical rose, pray for us
Tower of David, pray for us
Tower of ivory, pray for us
House of gold, pray for us
Ark of the covenant, pray for us
Gate of Heaven, pray for us
Morning Star, pray for us
Health of the sick, pray for us
Refuge of sinners, pray for us
Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us
Help of Christians, pray for us
Queen of Angels, pray for us
Queen of Patriarchs, pray for us
Queen of Prophets, pray for us
Queen of Apostles, pray for us
Queen of Martyrs, pray for us
Queen of Confessors, pray for us
Queen of Virgins, pray for us
Queen of all Saints, pray for us
Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us
Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us
Queen of peace, pray for us

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world: Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world: Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world: Have mercy on us.

Pray for us, most holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, whose only begotten Son, by his life, death and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech you, that while meditating of the mysteries of the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Lovely Tribute

I am not ready for a requiem and I long for a resurrection, but I was very moved by this tribute and thank "hughcree" for caring enough to make it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

For those who think I tend to exaggerate...

"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."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Commemorating Independence and Protesting Closure at St. Patrick's Cathedral

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.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Voice of the Faithful Writes to Cardinal on Behalf of Recently Closed Churches

This morning's New York Post ran an item, The Cardinal is begged to reconsider. This piece describes a letter written to Cardinal Egan by the leadership of the local chapter of Voice of the Faithful, a group of concerned laity seeking certain reforms within the Roman Catholic church. Regarding Our Lady of Vilnius:

"They also complained that the closing of Our Lady of Vilnius on Feb. 26 was "disrespectful to its pastor and parishioners and brought shame upon the Catholic Church itself." The archdiocese has said the decision to close both churches was made after an elaborate review process, that the concerns of the parishioners were considered and that everyone was given an opportunity to be heard on the subject."

My two cents: They have to say that the review process was elaborate because it was neither effective nor fair. It was based on a simplistic evaluation of demographic parameters carefully chosen to justify the closure of certain parishes. How could the considerations of the parishioners of Our Lady of Vilnius be considered when the Chancery never allowed an exchange of ideas with parish representatives? They don't even know what our concerns are, unless the public relations firm of Howard Rubinstein has been briefing them on recent press.

The Archdiocese should have sent a team to visit parishes and talk to parishioners before compiling a list of parishes for closure. Parishes that were solvent, but whose statistics belied their viablility, should have been given an opportunity to register the unregistered and challenge the administrative tally of "sacramental viability" statistics. Parishes should have been given a wake up call, not a death knell. The Archdiocese should have looked into the attributes that inspire devotion and the financial support of those who can least afford it and looked at ways to invigorate other parishes with those traits.

Cultivation of structural decay and the appearance of statistical morbidity, inaccurate and misleading information carefully chosen for being a micron shy of legal falsehood, misleading logic and implication, imperviousness to communication, brooking no opposition, the use of deception and brute force to quell opposition. How is this true to the teachings of Christ?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Visit Save Our Lady of Vilnius for Latest News and Action Alerts

I do the best that I can to keep this blog current, but lately there is so much news and such little time. I need to earn my salary, do the occasional 10 loads of laundry and write my own letters to the clerical and political hierarchy, so right now I'm a little behind. Not to mention emotionally shell shocked by the closure and all of its personal consequences.

The Save Our Lady of Vilnius site has direct ties to the Lithuanian and Lithuanian/American community as well as local media and media in Lithuania. Ray is constantly and conscientiously posting news and calls to action.

Please help us by reading the news and following his suggestions for action.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers and expressions of support.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Still Center of It All, Gazing Down Upon Us

I pause to remember the church, empty and unillumined except for the daylight filtering through the rose window. This icon of Our Lady above the altar, her metallic paints changing subtly with the light. Dust motes hovering in the air and the relative silence of only distant noise.

Now in this storm of e-mail, video, articles, newscasts, opinions, feelings, plans and acts I search within myself for this peace and gazing at your image, I find it.

Thank you.

Recent Media Coverage Of Our Displacement








Monday, March 05, 2007

Father Eugene Sawicki Makes News, If Not History

Father Eugene spoke to the "New York Post" last week. They have melded quotes from that interview with other reportage for today's story, Street Preach. Salient quote from Father Eugene:

"It's not only about me, and the treatment of a priest, it's about the parishioners. The old people who used to come here every day to play cards and cook now have nowhere to go. There's no where to celebrate the liturgy. They're outside in the cold. That's not right. This is a place where people come to be in the presence of God.

Good liturgy is good theatre, and good theatre is good therapy. St. Vilnius [sic] raises the hearts and minds to God."

Amen. For me, the liturgy at Our Lady of Vilnius raised my heart and mind to God more readily than any at St. Patrick's Cathedral. I hope that many hearts go out to Father Eugene. Let us pray to Our Lady of Vilnius for his protection from harm and reprisals.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Clergyman Shares His Memories of Our Lady of Vilnius

Shared with Liuda and the Friends of Lithuania by Father Daniel Yenkevich:


I feel so bad about all this. I had celebrated Mass in that church many times. The attendance on Sundays was good, but the people not only came together for Mass, but they would bring food with them and generally stayed in the hall after Mass and ate and shared their food with each other until about 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon, because people came from Brooklyn and Yonkers, New Jersey and even Long Island. This parish was not about only going to Mass and going straight home. There was always a great spirit there which one did not find in other parishes.

They had many cultural affairs as well, dinners, poetry reading discussion on many topics given by speakers. Fr Sawicki was always good in fostering community affairs. All of this is now gone.

We must pray to our Lady of Vilnius for help.

Still more reason never to turn our back nor our hope away from Our Lady of Vilnius!

To Kill A Village

Darius, of the Exiled in Gotham blog expresses my feelings about the locking of Our Lady of Vilnius much better than even I can. It is once again a comfort to know that I am far from alone, that our village exists as a state of mind. Please read his post To Kill a Village.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Saturday, March 3 - Displaced Cultural Event to be held at Cyber Cafe




250 West 49th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue


-ORGANIZERS: NEW YORKERS NEXT TO US (Klubas Niujorkieciai Salia Musu.")

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Cancelled: Concert at Calvary Baptist Church, Friday, March 2

The concert of Lithuanian music scheduled for Friday, March, 2, 2007 at Calvary Baptist Church has been cancelled. The organizer states that the performers have returned to Lithuania.

Our Lady of Vilnius Closure Discussed on Podcast

In this Podcast of Lithuanian Radio New York, aired Wednesday, February 28, 2007, Dr. Giedre Kumpikas reviews the week's news, including the sudden closing of Our Lady of Vilnius Lithuanian Church in Manhattan.

Lithuanian Radio of New York is broadcast Wednesdays at 10pm Eastern on WPAT-AM and presents an hour of community news and a variety of music for the New York metropolitan area.