Thursday, June 30, 2011

Echoes of Our Lady of Vilnius at Mater Dolorosa, Holyoke, MA

Parishioners refuse to let go:

Bishop Timothy McDonnell, current Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, served as vicar general of the Archdiocese of New York from 2002 to 2004.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Day at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission

Yesterday the closing of Our Lady of Vilnius led me on another fun-filled adventure: a public hearing of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission! It was so much fun that I was surprised that more of the general public did not attend. The staff was courteous and hospitable and the presentations interesting and entertaining, melding architecture, history and culture.

The paradigm was a little bit like divorce court: the preservationists extol the authenticity, aesthetic and architectural merit and the cultural importance of the sites and structures. In opposition, the owners present as beleaguered stewards who have been forced to remedy profound defects in their impulsively acquired properties by despoiling their architectural purity. God bless the commissioners who have to address the reality at the center of a cyclone of spin.

The four Dominick Street houses, though separate applications, were accorded one presentation. Representatives of preservation organizations spoke in support of the applications. Three out of four owners were in attendance, all speaking in opposition to the proposal. One of the owners came with a retinue consisting of his wife, an attorney, an architect, a structural engineer and a guy to set up an easel for the visuals.

It was a great opportunity to learn about our fair city and to witness an effort to see that it doesn't disappear in an orgy of self-reinvention. Regarding the suspects: the usual ones were absent. I asked a preservationist if she knew who filed the application. She didn't know for sure, but suspected that it was "internal." In a surreal touch, one of the preservationists resembled Ms. Marple more closely than I.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Corpus Christi at Apreiskimo: Taking Jesus to the streets in Brooklyn

Pat Sidas, the central nervous system of the Lithuanian Catholic community, sent this out via e-mail as an "EXTRA!":

The Feast of Corpus Christi will be celebrated in Williamsburg Saturday, June 25. Monsignor Calise and the Mt. Carmel parishioners and members of the Annunciation Spanish Speaking Community will come down Havemeyer Street in procession from Mt. Carmel Church to Annunciation Church with the Blessed Sacrament.

Monsignor has asked the Annunciation Lithuanian Community to form an Honor Guard to meet the Blessed Sacrament at Annunciation Church (5:30 pm). Come if you can! Sing with the Choir! Honor Our Blessed Lord's True Presence in the BLESSED SACRAMENT.........

Refreshments in the Lower Hall will follow Benediction in the church.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our Lady of Vilnius Rectory Whodunnit: Chapter 2

Though it has most recently been referenced as "32 Dominick Street House," a close look at the transom will reveal the ghostly outline of "Our Lady of Vilna Rectory." Apparently the rectory is on the calendar for a public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Salient info from The City Record, June 20th edition.


TUESDAY, June 28, 2011
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT PURSUANT to the provisions of 3020 of the New York City Charter and Chapter 3 of Title 24 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York (Sections 25-303 and 25-313) that on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 9:00 A.M., at the Landmarks Preservation Commission will conduct a public hearing in the Public Meeting Room of the Landmarks Preservation Commission,
located at The Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North, City of New York
with respect to the following proposed Landmark and Landmark Site. Any person requiring reasonable accommodation in order to participate in the hearing should call or write the Landmarks Preservation Commission, [Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North, New York, NY 10007, (212) 669-7700] no later than five (5) business days before the hearing. There will also be a public meeting on that day.

Item No. 6
Landmark Site: Borough of Manhattan Tax Map Block 578,
Lot 64

Item No. 7
Landmark Site: Borough of Manhattan Tax Map Block 578,
Lot 63

Item No. 8
Landmark Site: Borough of Manhattan Tax Map Block 578,
Lot 62

Item No. 9
Landmark Site: Borough of Manhattan Tax Map Block 578,
Lot 61

Again: Whodunnit? Nobody's Wife will be there, unobtrusively circulating among the suspects just like Miss Marpliciute.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Lady of Vilnius: where the language of the heart was spoken

"When the day of Pentecost had come, the Disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?"

Even though archdiocesan publicity states that Mass was not said in Lithuanian, it was. Father would say the Mass in Lithuanian, Jurgis Aleliunas would read the gospel in Lithuanian and Father would deliver the homily in English. The Mass was attended by Americans of various ethnic backgrounds: Irish, Italian and Portuguese in addition to Lithuanians and Lithuanian/Americans. Most important was the language of the heart that was lived by the community. None were more fluent in it than Jurgis and Stasia Aleliunas. They arrived before Mass, started the coffee and prepared the refreshments for the gathering after Mass. They spoke a little English, fluent Russian and Lithuanian. Their devotion to the details of preparing the altar for Mass and their radiant smiles said all that we needed to know. God bless them and all members of the scattered community of Our Lady of Vilnius this Pentecost. May the Holy Spirit inspire archdiocesan leaders to restore our community and its home.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Our Lady of Vilnius is mentioned on page 199!

Jason Berry's "Render Unto Rome: the secret life of money in the Catholic Church" went on sale yesterday, June 7, 2010. A good read for anyone who is interested in trying to "follow the money" and is fascinated by what is seen and unseen.

For more info, visit the Crown Publishing Group's website for press release. The book is available at

Thursday, June 02, 2011

RIP Rosalyn Yalow, a populist heroine in the populist tradition of Our Lady of Vilnius

Nobel laureate Rosalyn Yalow lived not far from me before I, like her a Bronx native, moved away from my home borough. She lived there for the remainder of her life, which ended on Monday, May 31, 2011.

As recently as 2005, Larry Summers, then president of Harvard University, publicly expressed the sentiment that women were inherently unsuited for careers in math and science. Imagine the climate that Mrs. Yalow encountered when she embarked upon her career armed with her Hunter College physics degree in 1941.

Despite being a woman in a man's world, she put her NYC public school education to work carving out a distinguished career in science, making a great contribution to the field of diagnostic medicine and winning a Nobel prize.

Since 1905, when Our Lady of Vilnius was founded, it has been the home of countless people of modest beginnings and modest lives who took their abilities and the resources available to them and made the most of their natural gifts for the betterment of this world. Save Our Lady of Vilnius Committee member Dalia Bulgaris comes immediately to mind. A student of chemistry when this was an uncommon vocation for women, Dalia taught this subject for many years at Stuyvesant High School, perhaps helping to form the Rosalyn Yalows of the future.

So today I remember Rosalyn and Dalia, thank God for them and pray that their souls and the souls of all who followed a similar path reside with Him on this Ascension Thursday.