The picture above was taken at a family wedding in upstate New York in 1985. From left to right are my father, my aunt Ann and my aunt Helen. They were all born in Manhattan to Lithuanian immigrants who were among the first parishioners of Our Lady of Vilnius.
Among my proudest possessions is my father's First Holy Communion prayerbook. Stuck inside of it is a holy picture with Lithuanian text on the back. It tells of a parish mission conducted at Our Lady of Vilnius in 1926.
People who love football, or the movies, or both remember Ronald Reagan as the dying Gipper, sending Pat O'Brien as Knute Rockne out to "do it for the Gipper."
Well, my father, who played semi-pro football in a leather helmet, is one of my Gippers. He died in 1992 at the age of 78. His two sisters, pictured with him, died within months of him and are also my Gippers.
My heart tells me to fight for this cause that sophisticates categorize as lost. I pray and work for the survival of this parish in the name of those who sacrificed to create it in a spirit of innocent faith, hoping to create a spiritual home for their descendants.
Who are my other Gippers? Blessed George Matulaitis, the parishioners of Our Lady of Vilnius, living and dead, and their descendants, some as yet unborn.
Fellow parishioners, please send me your Gippers!