Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today: Two Year Anniversary of Abrupt Closing of Our Lady of Vilnius, NYC

Join us at 7:00 PM in front of the church for a candlelight vigil. We will celebrate our survival, appreciate our past and pray for our future.

Two years ago today I tried to attend the noon Mass at Our Lady of Vilnius and joined the group of worshippers in front of the church, shocked and bewildered to find it locked. The video below brings back vivid memories of that day.

Our church is still standing thanks to civil and canonical actions. Please help us pay our legal expenses by visiting the Save Our Lady of Vilnius website to make a donation via PayPal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Also Rans for the Next Archbishop of New York

Back on February 3, when speculation regarding Cardinal Egan's successor had reached a fever pitch, the Desperate Blogger came forth with a post, Colbert 'Top Candidate' for Archbishop of New York. This item was, in turn, picked up by Cathleen Kaveny at dotCommonweal. In the forum that ensued such names as Michael Bloomberg, General Petraeus, Eliot Spitzer, Al D'Amato and Mario Cuomo were bandied about.

My nominee would have been Leonard Cohen, my idol since the age of 12. He is currently circulating among us, having peformed a triumphant concert at the Beacon Theatre last Thursday. Alas, I could not attend because I gave my saved up allowance to the Save Our Lady of Vilnius Committee's legal expense fund. Today's New York Times article On the Road, for Reasons Practical and Spiritual describes Mr. Cohen's artistic and spiritual path.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Our Lady of Vilnius "Valio!" for Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Today's New York Times devotes a good deal attention to both Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Cardinal Egan. In Laurie Goodstein's piece, New Archbishop Pledges to Look Out for His Priests and Increase Their Ranks" , Our Lady of Vilnius gets a mention thanks to Voice of the Faithful:

"On Monday, the New York branch of Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic reform group, called on Archbishop Dolan to re-evaluate three Manhattan parish closings ordered by Cardinal Egan: Our Lady Queen of Angels in East Harlem, Mary Help of Christians on East 12th Street and Our Lady of Vilnius in SoHo."

Maybe Archbishop Dolan would like to join us for some zeppelinai and a Svyturis.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's as official as official can get: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee will replace Cardinal Egan

Archdiocese of New York makes the announcement in a press release.

Drumroll Please (Please! Please! Please...)

Last week, 2 normally prescient religious bloggers coyly implied that an announcement re Cardinal Egan's retirement and replacement would be made within 24 hours?


Last night every outlet in the world trumpeted an AP release stating that the Vatican would make the announcement today that Bishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee would be replacing Cardinal Egan at the helm of the Archdiocese of New York. Am I too jaded to be waiting with bated breath? Nah!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Power of Prayer

I was attracted to Our Lady of Vilnius the way an iron filing flies to a magnet. I could present some reasons why, but they would not be sufficient to explain the experience. I believe in the power of prayer and I pray to remain an iron filing, pulled into the proper position by the power of Our Lord. If we all prayed so, our souls would be in unison, we would all be aligned the same way, like flowers leaning toward the sun. None of us would be alone or feel alone and we would sing our hearts out in a powerful chorus.

I believe that Our Lady of Vilnius is a powerful source and symbol of goodness and I pray for its restoration.

Please join us in this prayer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bloggers Suspect "Big Announcement" Tomorrow

Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia and Gary Stern, who "Blogs Religiously" for the Gannett Papers, report that all indicators point to an announcement re Egan's retirement and successor tomorrow. Mr. Palmo presents this in this afternoon's post Big One Digest: 15 Hours... or More

A friend from another closed parish is ready to break out the champagne.

What a long, strange, trip it's been.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

An Appeal from an Artist: "Everyone Needs Miracles"

Artist Suzannah Troy lives across town from Our Lady of Vilnius. Last year she learned about our plight and expressed her empathy for our situation. Suzannah has been a strong public champion of the humanity and soul of New York City.

In response to receiving our appeal for funds, she made this YouTube video expressing support for our cause. Please look and listen.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Our Lady of Vilnius Needs Your Help

The Archdiocese of New York has moved to demolish Our Lady of Vilnius twice since February, 2007. The church has remained standing thanks to civil actions.

By February 23, 2009, we must file additional legal arguments and documents with the Appellate Division, in order for this case to proceed. If we do not, our case will be dismissed and the Archdiocese will almost certainly resume its efforts to tear down the church.

We need to raise $10,000 for lawyer's and court fees by February 23, in order to continue with the case. Otherwise, we will lose the building.

We think that there is still hope. St. Brigids Church in the East Village followed a similar path since 2004, surviving one hour of blows from a wrecking ball. Their steadfast committee preserved the church through civil actions until this past year an anonymous donor gave generously and convinced the archdiocese to re-open the parish. By following their example of faith and action we hope to restore Our Lady of Vilnius as well.

If you want to support our effort to restore Our Lady of Vilnius as a place of worship and as a cultural and community center, please send a contribution.

For convenience you may visit the Save Our Lady of Vilnius website, to contribute online using the PayPal account.

You may also contribute by check. Checks should be written to The Lithuanian American Community, Inc. Please write "Save Our Lady of Vilnius Fund" in the subject line. Please send all checks to:

Lithuanian American Community, Inc. - NY District
Save Our Lady of Vilnius Fund
c/o Zukas/Jencius
19 Willow Lane
Great Neck, NY 11023

All contributions are tax-deductible.

Any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated.

Yours truly,
The Save Our Lady of Vilnius Committee

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another Lithuanian Displacement

The man in the photo is Jonas Mekas, the face behind the name and obsolete address on an ancient and yellowed page of Our Lady of Vilnius parish mailing labels.

Though I have never seen him in our surrealistic blue barroom and despite being informed that his presence on the list is vestigial, I consider him part of our flock.

Today this image appears in the New York Times associated with the alert that an institution of artistic distinction is endangered. Larry Rohter's piece Distributor of Avant-Garde Films Threatened With Eviction describes how the 50 year old film archive received an eviction notice and must find a new home.

According to the article the archive, founded in 1962 by a group of experimental filmmakers including Mr. Mekas, the archive holds a collection of about 5,000 titles made by some 900 artists and rents these films to museums, universities, libraries and galleries in the United States and abroad.

Mr. Mekas' work "Lithuania" opened last Friday at Anthology Film Archive and received a thoughtful review from NY Times' Manohla Darghis who encapsulated his bio as follows:

"He and his brother, the filmmaker Adolfas Mekas, fled their Lithuanian home in 1944, spent time first in a German labor camp and then a displaced-persons camp, eventually sailing up the Hudson River in 1949 on a ship named the General Howze. Jonas Mekas went on to be a major avant-garde filmmaker, give us the Film-Makers’ Cooperative and Anthology Film Archives and become a national treasure. And years later he sat in his home and watched one world collapse, as another began."

I hope his camera is still rolling because we live in interesting times with much potential for collapse and resurrection.

Psst: There is an empty building at 32 Dominick Street rich in Lithuanian, American, New York and artistic heritage. The landlord, however, may prove difficult.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Secrecy: Shrouds and Cloaks

Gary Stern is the religion writer in my neck of the woods, and a very good one. Today I found a piece on the Gannett papers' website that puts the process of selecting bishops in historical perspective, Process for picking bishops mysterious, to which many of our saltier parishioners might say "No BLEEP, Sherlock."

In the article he harks back to the selection of Bishop Farley in 1902, traces the nature of the selection process through history and applies the historical insight to the selection of Cardinal Egan's successor.

Salient quote:

"Don't forget, the Holy Spirit plays an important role," he said. "People tend to forget that. People see this as something similar to politics. The church is something different than a political organization. It has existed for 2,000 years. What political system can say that?"

Father Eugene used to remind us very frequently of the matrix of divine mystery in which we move. Many forces are at work, forces that we judge as good and evil. No sooner do we invest someone with the white hat, then some tarnish surfaces. Likewise, good manifests itself from the acts of those we have branded as villains. No matter how hard we try to maneuver and control, mystery unfolds. Pray and remain open to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Drumbeat for Cardinal Egan's Retirement is Louder, Faster and Funnier

Posts about Cardinal Egan's impending retirement and replacement have been increasing in frequency over the past week. On Wednesday the New York Times addressed this phenomenon in its piece, Choice of a New Archbishop Is Near, Peaking Speculation Suggests Our Archbishop's piano has been under surveillance. Its whereabouts is akin to the puffs of smoke emitted from the Vatican during a papal election.

The regulars at dotCommonweal are having a lot of fun with this topic in Cathleen Kaveny's post The Next Archbishop of New York. The jewel in the crown is Colbert 'Top Candidate' for Archbishop of New York. The ensuing forum is hilarious. David Nickol offers this video as evidence of Colbert's dynamism and spirituality.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Celebrating the Resurrection of St. Brigid's at Solas

Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, second from left, to the right of her, Edwin Torres and stained-glass artist Patti Kelly and friends celebrated with the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s on Sunday. Isn't that a Lithuanian on the far right?

The most recent edition of The Villager features coverage of the feast of St. Brigid, a party to celebrate the resurrection of a parish that many, especially the Archdiocese of New York, had written off as doomed. A contingent from Our Lady of Vilnius attended the celebration, which is vividly and accurately documented in Albert Amateau's Villager piece Committee celebrates the salvation of St. Brigid’s. It was a pleasure to be among this diverse and cohesive group of people who stood firm againsts all odds and kept the faith. It was inspiring to receive a warm welcome from Ed and Dolly, witness the fruits of their efforts and share their joy.

On August 24, 2006, I started this blog with a post about St. Brigid's, which I called "the canary in the archdiocesan coal mine." The post, called St. Brigid's - A Blessing for Another Church As Yet Unsaved was occasioned by the news of a judge keeping the TRO against demolition in place. The title of the post alludes to a 2005 piece by columnist Dan Barry, A Prayer for a Church Unsaved.

An Our Lady of Vilnius "Valio! Valio! Valio!" to the people of St. Brigid's.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I feel you, Chuck

Apparently our Staten Island groundhog is not as obliging as Punxsutawney Phil. Today's New York Times item, An Encore for Chuck the Groundhog, a Day After the Chomp describes the adventures of a misanthropic Staten Island groundhog when inopportunely roused to perform his ceremonial duties. Why am I so sympathetic toward this poor animal?

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Semiotics of the Superbowl?


I thought I got a little wild with that last post, but someone else has delved further into the symbolism of this rivalry, going into the origins of the Steelers as the Pirates and associating pirates with the Knights Templar. Whew! Visit The Secret Sun to trace this circuitous path.

My current bedtime reading is The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury. Many people deplored the recent NBC miniseries (doesn't this word look like "miseries"?) , but I now wallow in movies with New York locations, many of which have been decimated by development, or soon will be.

Let us pray that Our Lady of Vilnius will not join them!