Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Speculation about Cardinal Egan's successor resurfaces...

This morning I received an alert to a post in the "Catholic Sensibility" blog. After a brief hiatus in the blogosphere, it seems that Cardinal Egan's successor is a subject of speculation. This post, New York Speculations, explores the rumor of Archbishop Henry Mansell of Hartford assuming the chair of Archbishop of New York. It identifies him as having served as chancellor and vicar-general to John Cardinal O’Connor. It also describes him as one in whom the priests of the archdiocese have some confidence.

Monday, July 30, 2007

dotCommonweal continues to document our plight

Grant Gallicho at dotCommonweal continues to watch, wait and witness our plight. Visit dotCommonweal and read Is Our Lady of Vilnius about to be demolished? (Update). As usual, the story is crisp, accurate and invites commentary.

Don't hesitate to read and participate in the forum. Saulius Simoliunas has already logged on.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Singing in the Rain

The weather held for the weekly protest at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Under cloudy skies, we then assembled in front of Our Lady of Vilnius. Ramute updated the faithful on recent business, then the skies opened. We prayed to Our Lady then partook of a light repast huddled under umbrellas and pressed into entryways. Laima M. had baked a prosciutto bread and brought a coffee cake. Rita brought a strong Lithuanian elixir of "swamp herbs" to share. Most of the group repaired to Starbuck's for postprandial coffee and further discussion.

One man, a sturdy white-haired man with pale blue eyes, stood alone at the top of stairs, partly sheltered by the eave. He held the corner of the Lithuanian flag, displaying it fully for the motorists creeping toward the mouth of the Holland Tunnel. I joined him, then Aligmantas came up, then Mindaugus and finally Rita. Rita stood with one eye closed against the rain, smiling her Giulietta Massina smile. She suggested that we sing "Marija, Marija" in the rain. And we did. We sang at the top of the steps and the top of our lungs as the rain poured down between our umbrellas, soaked our clothes and dripped off our elbows.

It was a fine and inspired moment. One of many at Our Lady of Vilnius.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Demolition Permit Vigil: Watch and Pray

The Save Our Lady of Vilnius website features a link to the NYC buildings website. It takes you to a form that summarizes filings for 568/570 Broome Street, Our Lady of Vilnius Church. There is a place to display the filing information for a demolition permit, (form DP 305-10).

As of now there are all zeros in the "Date" column. Does that mean there is no demolition permit? No.

Secular power also works in mysterious ways.

We watch, we pray, we plan and we hope. Please join us, wherever you are.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Our Lady of Vilnius Pre-Demolition?

This morning I was alerted to an item in yesterday's "The Villager." "Scoopy's Notebook" features a paragraph titled "Vilnius 'predemolition' work:'

As yet unaware of this press item, we met to discuss our status and our options. Though the Archdiocese denies intent to demolish and/sell, intent can change, and rapidly, in New York City. In the past week we have seen notices alerting us to rat bait in the area and Shannon Abatement, Inc. has posted a notice on the door.

After our meeting, Rita and I went to the church to pray. We place a silver cross and a small icon of Our Lady of Vilnius in the center of the steps. We held hands and prayed to Our Lady in English and Lithuanian for her guidance and expressed our desire for the survival of the church

As we prayed, two men opened the side door. One man went to a double parked truck and pulled it to the curb closest to the door. The other man handed him one parcel enclosed in a thick black plastic bag. He placed this in the truck, then went back for another and did the same. He then returned the truck to its previous position. The men looked at us with some curiousity, then one of them took out a cell phone and made a call.

Against all odds, we continue to meet and plan and pray. We share food and joy and sorrow, as we did when the church was open. We ask you to join us in prayer and to share your ideas and reactions with us. You can e-mail me at ausrosvartunyc@yahoo.com.

We thank you for your prayers and support. It strengthens us to know that you are with us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Echoes of Our Lady of Vilnius in St. Mary of the Lakes, Otis, MA

I spent this weekend close to nature in the woods of Otis, Massachusetts.

On Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM we attended the Mass of Anticipation at Saint Mary of the Lakes in the Archdiocese of Springfield. St. Mary's, a mission church of a larger parish in Lee, MA, looked like it had at one time been a hall for the imposing Congregational church nearby. At 3:55 PM the sleepy little lot next to the building and the deserted Post Office lot across the street became a hive of activity.

The faithful filed into the lobby and those who wanted to receive placed an unconsecrated host into the chalice. The church was sparsely ornamented and sparkling white inside. Three ceiling fans whirred above the center aisle, mounted in a low, flat ceiling of new white accoustic tiles. The small rectangular windows of the hall were all open half way. In lieu of stained glass they were ornamented with a press-on plastic stained glass motif. Four women in summer dresses stood along side of the electronic organ at the right front. The tabernacle was built into the wall and was reminiscent of the night depository of a bank. The priest was assisted by two white robed women of a certain age, an altar server and eucharistic minister and another who served as lector. A statue of Our Lady stood in the left corner, near a door marked "Confessional Room." The altar was a nice wooden trestle table covered with a white cloth. The lectern was draped with a hand appliqued banner depicting a chalice and host, much like the one at St. Stanislaus Kostka.

The space was filled with as many pews as it could hold and every pew was at least half-filled. The prayers were said with conviction and in an impressive unison. Most of the congregation joined in the singing of the hymns and the greetings at the Sign of Peace were genuinely warm, with sincere smiles and firm handclasps.

Most of the congregation filed up to receive Communion and the sight was very moving to me: the diversity in age, style and mobility humbly inching forward to receive the Lord.

Everyone remained in place until the last note of the recessional faded, then they left quickly for the cacaphony of conversations in the parking lot.

A simple service in a simple space where everyone presents the gift of themselves. This is what Our Lady of Vilnius was, and what it could be again.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Please, all pray for restoration

A reader comments on the "New York Observer" article:

"It is sad that a person professing Christianity did not display basic human courtesy in dealing with a such a sensitive matter. Did he not learn, kindness, need to take the members of the church into confidence, bending backwards to preserve heritage, etc. as part of his training before he became Cardinal. The lines of argument used to justify his action smell of deep commercialisation rather than rationality or religion. In her narration, McAleer recalls an earlier visit by this person. May be he had an intention to retire in this place, after he turned 75. Now that he has,may be has ideas. Members must carefully watch. Also what of the valuables and other parts of the structure? Law is not good enough to save this Church? Human mind and will of God, will surely outbeat such diabolic intentions. I pray for the restoration."

Read the article and reader comments on "The New York Observer" Site: Cardian Egan Paints Himself and Unhappy Ending