Sunday, March 29, 2009

CNN covers church closures in Cleveland

Roman Catholic parishioners in Cleveland, Ohio, are now facing the closure of their churches. CNN covers these events in an item, Catholic faithful face church closures, by Jessica Ravitz. The article states the facts, putting the closures in a context of similar closures across the nation and a decline in affiliated members noted by the recent Pew Forum Survey. The article includes remarks from Bishop Lennon of the Diocese of Cleveland, Sr. Christine Schenk of FutureChurch and Peter Borre of the Council of Parishes. Salient quotes:

""Too many bishops are treating parishes as if they were Starbucks franchises," said Sister Christine Schenk, a Cleveland-area nun who's been fighting for nearly two decades to institute change in the church through her organization FutureChurch.

"It's about more than money. It's about mission to the people," she said. "This isn't what Jesus would do."

The Rev. Bob Begin of Saint Colman couldn't agree more.

"The founder of our church started his mission by saying, 'I came to bring good news to the poor,'" said Begin, who described his parish as serving about 1,300 people in a community where the average income is below $20,000.

Saint Colman, which is slated to merge with another parish elsewhere, gets daily knocks on its doors from nearby residents, many of them immigrants from 25 different countries, who are in need of all kinds of assistance, he said.

"If this parish weren't involved in bringing good news to the poor, I would not spend a lick of energy trying to keep it open," the pastor said. "But because it is bringing good news to the poor, then I have a responsibility to guard and defend this mission against anyone who threatens it."

His parish and others affected by the recent announcement had until 5 p.m. Friday to file an appeal with the diocese. According to The Plain Dealer, which conducted a survey of the parishes, at least 11 had filed as of Friday morning. The diocese itself refused to comment on numbers."

The site also includes video of parishioners' responses:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Where All The Cats Join In

Well, I am one cat that didn't, and I regret it.

On Friday the 13th Vladas Borkovskis and the New York Cats gathered at Annunciation in Brooklyn to celebrate Lithuanian Independence, make music and help Our Lady of Vilnius raise money to cover legal expenses. Joining them in the photo, above, are Save Our Lady of Vilnius Committee members Rita Stelmokiene, Mindaugas Blaudziunas and Ramute Zukas.

A big "Aciu" and "Thanks" to Mindaugas and the other organizers, the band and everyone else who joined in. Thanks also to Leroy Thompson for providing the photo that I was not there to take. Aaaargh!

See the cats joining in, c.1946.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A sighting worthy of Scoopy's Notebook

Visiting numismatist George S. Cuhaj blogs a Manhattan stroll in his post Chance Observations in Midtown. An observation worthy of The Villagers's "Scoopy's Notebook.". In the past Scoopy has remarked on similar activities at Our Lady of Vilnius.

Friday, March 20, 2009

St. Brigid's Epilogue: Is the devil in the details?

Just as it seemed that everyone associated with the remarkable case of St. Brigid's was going to ride off contentedly into the sunset, a voice from the neighborhood pipes up with some concerns. The latest edition of The Villager contains an opinion piece, New St. Brigid’s must be more than a ‘vanilla box’ by Roland Legiardi-Laura. The author expresses his concerns about the scope and nature of the restoration. I think it bears reading.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Celebrating St. Joseph's Day, Lithuanian American Style

This is a photo of my Lithuanian/American father, Joseph, and his sisters, Helen and Ann, taken at a family wedding reception in 1985. They all attended Our Lady of Vilnius as children in the 1920's. Though they were born here, in Manhattan, their first language was Lithuanian. When my father was old enough to go out and play, he learned the language of his American neighbors: Italian. He did not learn English until he entered first grade.

In my family, we always celebrated my father's name day with a fresh loaf of Lithuanian bread and the traditional Italian sfingi and zeppoli.

How could I not love Our Lady of Vilnius, where both zeppoli and zeppelinai are part of the heritage?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Please Pray for Julia

In November of 2006 we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Vilnius for the last time before the church was closed. I had the pleasure of sharing the table with a group of Portuguese women from the neighborhood. They placed their statue of Our Lady of Fatima on the table and shared their home made liqueur.

Julia was among them. She was one of the first people that I met at Our Lady of Vilnius and one of the warmest and friendliest. I saw her as a social leader, animated, vivacious and doing what needed to be done.

Since the church closed, I have not seen very much of her, partly because of ill-health. At present she is very seriously ill.

Julia needs our prayers. Pray to Our Lady, so beloved by the Portuguese community, and to Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, who said Mass at Our Lady of Vilnius in 1926 and who, himself suffered illness for most of his life.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thinking of Dalia Bulgaris

Not a day goes by that I don't think about Dalia Bulgaris. I remember seeing her in church and social events, always kind to me and frequently translating and teaching. Whenever I felt that my attachment to Our Lady of Vilnius parish was foolish or irrational, I would see it mirrored in her attachment as human and noble. I was surfing the net today in search of traces of Dalia and found this tribute to her sung by the Stuyvesant High School Concert Choir. Even in death, Dalia is very much with us.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

REALLY Qualified!

Support OLV, celebrate Lithuanian independence and hear some good jazz!

Vladas Borkovskis and the New York Cats ...

play jazz for you at an evening dedicated to the anniversary of regaining Lithuania's independence AND to saving Lithuanian heritage in New York - Our Lady of Vilnius church.

Vladas Borkovkis- bass
Bill Vare- vibrophone, keys
Jay Rodrigues- sax, flute
Fabio Morgera- trumpet
Gintas J- drums

Where: Annunciation Church, lower hall (the building across the street from the church) , 70 Havemeyer Str., Brooklyn, NY 11211

When: Friday, March 13, 2009 , 7:30pm

Directions: Take the L subway train to Lorimer Street in Brooklyn. Walk east on Metropolitan Avenue, make a right on 5th street, pass the church on your right and look across the street for # 70 Havemeyer .

Info: Danius Glinskis, Judita sedaitis -
Mindaugas Blaudziunas -

Read all about it in Lithuanian!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

We Still Need Your Help!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to our appeal for funds, whether via snail mail, e-mail or this blog. Our attorney met the February 23 deadline to "perfect" the civil appeal, but we are still trying to raise the balance of the money that we owe him.

February 23 has passed, but it is not too late to contribute. Visit to donate via PayPal.

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 Fundc/o Zukas/Jencius
19 Willow Lane
Great Neck, NY 11023

All contributions are tax-deductible.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

"The Villager" covers our candlelight vigil

I forgot to put the battery back in my camera last week, but I am glad that Lincoln Anderson did not.

The current edition of The Villager features coverage of the vigil in a piece titled Soho church lacks an ‘angel,’ but they have faith in lawsuit and brings the readership up to date on events since the church first closed.

Mr. Anderson was also on the scene when the news of anticipated closure first broke and The Villager published "'Pretzels' and 'Provolone" may lose their church". I always think of this piece as "Our Lady of Vilnius 101."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

St. Casimir, Pray for us!

Today is the Feast Day of St. Casimir, Patron of Lithuania. Ask him for his help and protection.