It is a beautiful clear day in the suburbs of western Westchester as Lithuania prepares to square off against Argentina for the Bronze Medal in Olympic basketball on the other side of the world, Beijing, China.
My 1992 Lithuanian Bronze Medal T-Shirt is one of my most prized possessions. In 1992 my father, afflicted with metastatic cancer but nonetheless capable of having a good time (I think that this toughness and resilience is a Lithuanian thing) sat in his living room and witnessed this extraordinary event in Barcelona.
Lithuania itself was newly independent, their basketball team took the country out media obscurity in America and stood on the medal podium respendent in tie-dye courtesy of Jerry Garcia.
It was Lithuanian, it was American, it was funky, jubilant and elevating: in short, it was very "Our Lady of Vilnius."
I have requested the intercession of Our Lady to influence the outcome of basketball before without good outcomes, but that was for Irish Christian Brothers schools. I am going to pray that this team that symbolizes my heritage, in the same way as Our Lady of Vilnius parish does, triumphs once again for the bronze, stands on the international stage and brings to the attention of all the merit of small nations. May we do the same for our parish and all small parishes. Amen!