Monday, November 26, 2007

Join us on Thursday Evening

The Consul General of the Republic of Lithuania in New York
Ambassador Jonas Paslauskas
The Save Our Lady of Vilnius Committee

Cordially invite you to an evening devoted to

“Preserving Our Lady of Vilnius -
A Lithuanian Cultural Treasure”

The featured exhibits will be the Opening of a Photo Exhibit by

Ann Charles


Video Clips produced by Lithuanian Filmmaker

Mindaugas Blaudziunas

Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 6 - 8 p.m.

The Consulate General of the Republic of Lithuania in New York
420 Fifth Ave, Third Floor
New York, N.Y. 10018

Donations will be accepted to continue the work of trying to save
Our Lady of Vilnius Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

Behold the Lily, Ungilded

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.)”

-from the epic poem “Pan Tadeusz” by Adam Mickiewicz

Saturday, November 17, 2007

An Invitation from The Lithuanian-American Community

Photo of Stained Glass window by world-renowned Lithuanian artist Vytautas K. Jonynas taken before its removal from Our Lady of Vilnius Church. Current whereabouts of stained glass windows is unknown.

To all of our dear Our Lady of Vilnius Church Supporters:

Please join us this Sunday in a prayer vigil from 12:30 to 2:00PM
to celebrate Our Lady of Vilnius Feast Day, on the steps of the now-closed
Our Lady of Vilnius Church on 570 Broome Street.

This will coincide with the solemn annual vigil at the foot of Our Lady of Vilnius Shrine,at the Gates of Dawn, in the Lithuanian Capital.

One year ago we celebrated this Feast in the Our Lady of Vilnius parish hall. It was a wonderful, warm celebration, with approximately 200 parishioners, Lithuanian American Community members and children in attendance. Sadly, this year we have no choice but to bring the Feast and our public outcry at the closing of the Church to the streets.

We will first gather on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets across from
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, at 10:30AM.

All are very welcome

Please feel free to bring your religious icons, rosary beads and Lithuanian flags.

Save Our Lady of Vilnius Church Committee
Lithuanian American Community, NY District
Ramute Zukas, President

Rain date will be Sunday November 25th, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Annual Pilgrimage, NYC - Please Join Us!

"Bring flowers of the fairest,
Bring flowers of the rarest"

This photo of flowers at the door of our locked church shows that we can still offer a tribute of beauty to Our Lady.

On Sunday, November 18, we will gather across the street from Saint Patrick's Cathedral for our customary demonstration and prayer.

After that we will make our way downtown to gather on the steps of our beloved church for prayer and celebration. We urge you to join us so that, even in the absence of our sanctuary, we can unite in prayer and celebrate. Our Lady of Vilnius parish is a diverse celebration of humanity. Last year our Portuguese parishioners brought Our Lady of Fatima to the festivities. I pray that the parish can be restored as a home for all who found comfort there.

Annual Pilgrimage, Vilnius...

The first three days of the Feast reflect on how God’s compassion manifested itself in Our Blessed Mother’s daily life.

The second half of the Feast reminds us that the Blessed Mother’s life portrays the image of the Church.

Meditation for Friday, November 16, 2007:

“The scriptures are fulfilled”

These are the words of Jesus as he is dying of the Cross. Through his pierced side, the Church is born.

May of our loss and displacement bring us closer to Our Lord as we unite in prayer with Lithuanians all over the world during these days of spiritual pilgrimage.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mother Mary - Merciful Mother of God

Mary calls us to be brave witnesses of faith in the contemporary world

My mentors in Lithuanian culture have sent me more information about the annual pilgrimage which, this year, takes place in Vilnius from November 11 to November 18.

Every year there is a theme. This year's theme is "Mother Mary - Merciful Mother of God". The general prayer intention is "To be brave witnesses of faith in the contemporary world."

The first three days of the prayer vigil are focused on the God's mercy as it is expressed in Mary's life.

The focus of the second part of the feast reminds us that Mary is a symbol of the church. Therefore, the mercy of God is to be expressed in the life of the Church, as Mary expressed God's mercy in her life.

We heed Mary's call as we strive to save our home, save our community of faith and preserve our spiritual and cultural heritage.

Monday, November 12, 2007

November Pilgrimage in Honor of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

Every year in the middle of November, tens of thousands of believers gather in Vilnius for the annual pilgrimage to honor Our Lady of Vilnius in the Gates of Dawn.

The streets are covered with wood, and kept especially clean, as many pilgrims approach the chapel and climb the stairwell to the icon on their knees. For eight days, Masses, prayer services, recitations of the rosary, and communal meditations occur around the clock.

The culmination of the pilgrimage is November 16th , the Feast of the Protection of the Merciful Mother of God.

This year the Vilnius pilgrimage began on Sunday, November 11. Last year at this time we, the parishioners of Our Lady of Vilnius, NYC, were standing in the shadow of closure but still had our basement hall open to gather for Mass and to offer hospitality to our urban pilgrims. We will mark these days by praying to Our Lady, for thanking her for protection and to ask her to intercede and pray with us for the restoration of our home on Broome Street and the preservation of our community.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In Remembrance of "Deacon Tony" Barbieri

This is Our Lady of Pompeii in Dobbs Ferry. It is a small church like Our Lady of Vilnius and St. Stanislaus Kostka. It has survived due to the fierce devotion of it parishioners, the protection of its founder, St. Cabrini, and the stewardship of Rev. Timothy Scannell, Pastor.

While not a parishioner, I have always loved attending Mass at this church, contributing to its support and attending its social events. I have always considered Deacon Tony to be the embodiment of this parish. When Father Carmelo Glavina was still in residence, I enjoyed the way they conducted the Mass. It was always a very warm, human and personal celebration of the Eucharist. Deacon Tony's sincere greetings, reading of the gospel and powerful tenor singing voice lent the Masses something individual and enveloping that made me feel like I was at a family gathering.

I always thought of Deacon Tony as kind of a Yogi Berra with operatic talent. I loved the way he circulated through the annual spaghetti dinner serenading the tables with arias and Neapolitan songs. When my friend was ill in White Plains Hospital I would meet Deacon Tony there from time to time. His familiar friendly face always lifted my spirits.

These past years he has been ill on and off. I looked forward to seeing him at Mass and despite his illness, he often appeared robust and cheerful. I saw him as he was leaving the annual Spaghetti Dinner on Sunday, October 28. I had no idea that this would be the last time that I would see him.

What does Deacon Tony have to do with Our Lady of Vilnius? Everyone there would have loved him and he would have felt very much at home. I can see him joking with Father Eugene and hanging with the Knights of Columbus in the basement. In fact, the Deacon was a fourth degree Knight. Read Deacon Tony's obituary to learn more about him and why it was such a pleasure to have known him.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Prayers and Best Wishes for Father Eugene on his birthday

November 7 is Father Eugene's birthday. We don't see him as often as we used to, but he remains in our minds and hearts. Let's offer him our prayers and best wishes as we say "Happy Birthday", "Sto Lat", and "Valio!, Valio!, Valio!"

Ask Blessed George Matulaitis to intercede for the sick of our community

for restoring health

Lord Jesus Christ, you teach us that if two or three will ask for something in your name, it will be granted them by your heavenly Father. Encouraged by this promise, we turn to you in all confidence that through the intercession of your faithful servant Blessed George you would restore to health those whom we recommend to your mercy and especially for ...(here mention the name of the person you wish to pray for) who places all hope in you.

In you, O Lord, we have placed our trust, may we not be put to shame now and throughout eternity!


I am posting this now so that parishioner Dalia, who is seriously ill right now, may benefit from the prayers of all who read this. Dalia is a kind, intelligent and gentle woman who is always missed whenever she is absent from our gatherings. She is an opera lover who sang alto in the Our Lady of Vilnius choir and always lends a melodius base to "Marija, Marija" when we gather in front of the church. Her opera buddies are missing her enthusiasm and the memories of various opera performances that she shared as interesting sidelights to the operas that they attended together. She was the first person who reached out to me in welcome when I began attending Our Lady of Vilnius and taught me many important things about the ethos and culture of Lithuania.

I encourage everyone to say this prayer to Blessed George Matulaitis for Dalia and for all who are currently sick.

Father Matulaitis came to Our Lady of Vilnius, offered Mass and confirmed several parishioners on July 29, 1926.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Join Us in Prayer on All Soul's Day at 11:00 PM

In a new chapter of my education in Lithuanian heritage, Rita called me today to tell me about the beauty and spiritual meaning of Velines, the day of celebrating the dead.

She told me that over a period of three days, people made pilgrimages to the graves of the deceased to place candles and offer prayers for their souls. In addition to this act of simple prayer, it is also a time to reflect on our relationships with those who have departed; to forgive them for any hurt that they have inflicted on us and to offer them our love.

She described riding out into the countryside in the crisp, dim evening and seeing the candles glowing in the various cemeteries. She talked of always having extra candles to illuminate the graves that remained dark, praying for these souls as well.

Tonight at 11:00 PM we will halt this hectic pace of urban life and offer a prayer for all souls: our ancestors who died before we were born, those who loved us in our lifetime, those whom we have loved, those teachers of the heart with whom we have had complex, even painful, relationships. We will forgive them, love them and pray that they will rest in peace in God's presence.

Joe endorses zeppelinai!

Last evening we crowded around Danute's table. As a surprise she had prepared zeppelinai for us, a meal that she had told us would be "a little snack."

This is a labor intensive Lithuanian culinary specialty that requires much grating of potatoes. It also requires knowledge, skill and experience to get everything right so that the "zeppelin" does not fall apart when dropped in boiling water to cook. If any dish embodies love, this is it.

The gathering was attended by Joe, one of our Italian-American parishioners. This was his initiation into Lithuanian cuisine. We watched him like he was El Exigente from the old coffee commercial. He smiled and and announced with obvious pleasure "This is good! This is tasty!"

Danute's long-time friend, Laima, took a photo album off the shelf. It was a compendium of good times shared among friends, many of them OLV parishioners. This made me reflect on how much more difficult the disruption of the parish was for those who had attended the church for a longer time than I and strengthened my resolve to pray and work for its restoration.

Thanks to Danute for preparing this feast for all of us occasionally sinful saints and for gracing us with her presence every Sunday.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

For All the Saints...

In response to the question "What is a saint?" Leonard Cohen replies:

"His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love. "

Leonard Cohen, from his novel, Beautiful Losers (1966)

When I posted the passage in full on All Saint's Day last year, a parishioner offered her own perspective:

"I like to think of the idea of "saint" as it was first used by early Christians. It meant all those who had received the grace of Christ through baptism. It includes the living and the dead, the known and the unknown, a community of believers transcending time. It is really the beginning of the idea of the communion of saints to which all are called. Anyway, those are my thoughts."

The picture above shows some of the saints of Our Lady of Vilnius gathered outside of our endangered and finite house. It was taken last November when we did not know quite how endangered and how finite. Tonight we will gather. We will pray for all the saints and ask for their help as we offer ours.