Thursday, December 29, 2011

Church and State (of siege)

As Advent dawned in the Archdiocese of New York I heard about a war from 4 different Catholic pulpits. A war is being waged on religion by the secular society. While it was not uttered, the take home message seemed to be "we better fight back," if only by wearing buttons that say "It's alright to wish me Merry Christmas."

Today's NY Times article by Laurie Goodstein, Bishops Say Rules on Gay Parents Limit Freedom of Religion may be viewed as another salvo. The article describes how Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, closed diocesan adoptive services rather than comply with a legal mandate to place children in the homes of gay couples, as these Catholic agencies received state funds. Presenting the Church's position, the article quotes Anthony R. Picarello Jr., general counsel and associate general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as saying “It’s true that the church doesn’t have a First Amendment right to have a government contract,” he said, “but it does have a First Amendment right not to be excluded from a contract based on its religious beliefs.” The opposing view argues that "no group has a constitutional right to a government contract, especially if it refuses to provide required services." In the course of relating this ideological standoff, Ms. Goodstein observes, "The idea that religious Americans are the victims of government-backed persecution is now a frequent theme not just for Catholic bishops, but also for Republican presidential candidates and conservative evangelicals." Shortly after hearing about the war on religion from 4 pulpits, I heard it on a Sunday morning news show from Newt Gingrich. Worst of all, we heard it from Cardinal Egan's attorney and Fox News consultant Peter Johnson, Jr.

After the New York State Court of Appeals ruled against Our Lady of Vilnius, Mr. Johnson presented the ruling as an affirmation of religious freedom and an able defense of the Constitution.

The parishioners of Our Lady of Vilnius are not enemies of either religious freedom or the Constitution. They are Roman Catholics that believe that the Church would serve itself better by opening its doors instead of circling the wagons.

Friday, December 23, 2011

St. Stanislaus Kostka Community mourns the loss of Weronika Radoman

Weronika (Vera) Radoman would have been equally at home in both St. Stanislaus Kostka and Our Lady of Vilnius. In fact, she was very much at home wherever you would meet her.

Though she was a member of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Holy Rosary Society, I met her in tai chi class before I ever found St. Stanislaus. Despite a bum knee, she gamely tried the form while subverting the imposed tranquility of the class with her high spirits. After 2 semesters she moved on to learn Spanish, an interest that did not make demands on her bad knee.

At St. Stanislaus Kostka she was noted for her generosity and warmth. She was a generous contributor to our Rosary Society and did not refuse to feed the woodland creatures that occasionally wandered into her kitchen to feed next to the cat. She fed us, too. Her kielbasi and sauerkraut were a popular mainstay of our Holiday Fair and Spring Thing lunches.

According to her funeral home obit, she was born in Poland on February 10, 1923. She loved hearing the Polish hymns sung at St. Stanislaus and would weep and later thank the choir whenever we sang "Pod Twa Obrone". When we said the rosary together she was right with us, in synch but not unison, praying in Polish.

Like many of the people I've met at these parishes, there was very much more to Vera than met the eye. When talking about movies she could offer insights to rival those of professional critics. It was a privilege to gradually get to know her over the years.

Without parishes like Our Lady of Vilnius and St. Stanislaus Kostka people like Vera and Jurgis Aleliunas would have been friendly faces seen at one of several Masses. These parishes allowed us to know them and love them. It allowed them to inspire and encourage us by merely being themselves.

CLICK HERE to view funeral arrangements.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

OLV has guardian angels at New York Magazine

Unbeknownst to us, Our Lady of Vilnius Church has been lovingly regarded from across the Holland Tunnel plaza. Noreen Malone has put this picture and a paragraph that shows that she groks us! Please refresh your soul by reading Noreen's piece,

Save Our Lady of Vilnius (and Our Office View)!

In 2007, Intel noticed us as well with Edward Egan, Landlord. I have always been grateful for the mention. After reading, add your 2 cents to the Comments.

Meanwhile, Noreen, sit with us in our virtual basement hall while we pop open a Svyturys for you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

OLV TV: Victory for Religious Freedom?

The above title captions a video on Fox News in which archdiocesan attorney Peter Johnson spins Our Lady of Vilnius case as an assault on religious freedom and presents himself as the virtuous and righteous defender of our constitution.

CLICK HERE to view video.

The high point of the presentation was OLV attorney Harry Kresky's statement:

"The parishioners are disappointed. It's unfortunate that the Roman Catholic Church has been allowed to incorporate its parishes to protect itself on the liability side...while at the same time maintaining full control of the corporation and the parish's property."

NY1 Covers Court Ruling

Court Sides With Archdiocese In SoHo Church's Demo -

NY1 didn't seem to do much but read the archdiocese' press release.

The OLV Corporate Board: Little known fact #1

The board that voted to demolish the church in October of 2007 was not the board in place at the time that the church was locked on February 26, 2007.
February 2007: Cardinal Egan, Archdiocesan Vicar General, Father Eugene Sawicki and lay trustees Gertrude (Joy) McAleer and Joe Pantuliano.
May 2007 (we learned this in Shirley Werner Kornreich's courtroom): Cardinal Egan, Archdiocesan Vicar General, Msgr. Thomas Gilleece, Claire Libonati and Thomas Libonati.
October 2007: Cardinal Egan, Archdiocesan Vicar General, Msgr. Thomas Gilleece, Claire Libonati and Rose Nunziato.

UPDATE - 2/16/2014

Former Our Lady of Vilnius parishioner and trustee passed away on January 25, 2012.  Her obituary notes that  "She was a secretary with the Archdiocese of New York, more specifically the secretary to His Eminence John Cardinal O'Connor for many years." In terms of her parish affiliation, the obituary refers to Ms. Libonati as a communicant of St. Anthony of Padua.  The obit does not mention Our Lady of Vilnius parish.


"I see the image of Ausros Vartu Marija before me and the tears just flow."

-parishioner Grazina Janusas

The Vultures are Circling

Link to New York Times appears on news page of The Real Deal. It must have been the word "demolish."

New York Times covers Our Lady of Vilnius ruling

Sharon Otterman's piece, Archdiocese Can Demolish SoHo Church, Court Rules, summarizes the 5 year history of our struggle to save our parish, our church and our faith in the archdiocese.

Please read the article and share your thoughts comments to this post.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NYS Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Archdiocese of New York

I was just informed of this by a reporter. CLICK HERE to view the ruling, that I have not yet read. I will be incommunicado for a few hours. More to follow.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Al Smith for president and Our Lady of Vilnius as potential papal portal!

An op-ed piece in Sunday's New York Times, When a Catholic Terrified the Heartland by Robert A. Slayton, reaches back in history to Al Smith's run for the presidency in 1928. Smith was the first Roman Catholic to run for the office and panic ensued that the Vatican would regain control of the American government.

Salient quote:

"Opponents blanketed the country with photos of the recently completed Holland Tunnel, the caption stating that this was the secret passage being built between Rome and Washington, to transport the pope to his new abode."

Don't bother to demolish Our Lady of Vilnius. We found the secret papal passage to the tunnel years ago. By the way, we also found Judge Crater and Jimmy Hoffa down there!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

We honor our Mother on the feast of her Immaculate Conception

Theotokos, and Mother of all mankind. Pray for your children in their times of suffering and need. Mother of Peace and Truth, Mother of our Savior, Queen of heaven and earth, pray that we imitate your Son in our lives and in our deaths. Spouse of the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the graces of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit that we may claim our eternal inheritance after living a holy life. Be with us always as we conform ourselves to the will of God.

The absence of original sin must make a difference in how you experience your daily life. Of course, Mary was oblivious to this and thought that she was like everyone else. Are there any speculative writings on this topic?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Archbishop Dolan reverses stance on Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado

According to Balitang America, Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado will proceed as originally planned with full Masses. Read the full story here.

This reminds me of the time that Joseph Zwilling incorrectly announced the closing of the Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz, our neighbor on Broome Street.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Canon Law and Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado

Three days ago Asian Journal ran the story "What will happen to the Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado?" Simbang Gabi is a novena celebrated by the Filipino community in preparation for the birth Christ, leading up to the Missa del Gallo on Christmas Eve. Mass is traditionally celebrated before the crack of dawn, and Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado Masses in NYC have been traditionally celebrated in the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue. This year, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan has weighed in, disapproving of Masses for the Filipino community being celebrated outside a sacred worship place. Today's NY Times also provided coverage of this development in Corey Kilgannon's piece, For Filipinos, an Abrupt Directive Alters a Christmas Ritual. Archdiocesan spokesperson Joseph Zwilling 's input:

"Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said the archdiocese informed the Filipino clergy that holding a formal Mass in a nonsacred space like the consulate was against “not simply the politics of the Archdiocese, but the teachings of the church, and it applies to the Filipino community as much as anyone else.”"

As a former Our Lady of Vilnius parishioner, I have become a connoisseur of Archdiocesan press statements. Here are my questions:

  • What canon is violated?
  • Why now after 25 years of tradition and 2 Christmas seasons with Archbishop Dolan at the helm of the archdiocese?
  • Is the purported lack of canonical correctness the cause of the cancellation, or is there a "back story"?
  • Where is New York City's local canonical police precinct so laity can phone in a "911" when canon law is violated by the clerical hierarchy?

For the brave who want to research this themselves the canonical code is available on the Our Lady's Warriors site. Otherwise, maybe the consultants at the St. Joseph Foundation might want to field this one.

Christian canons have fired at my days...

I saw Phil Ochs perform this song on television when I was a 13 year old girl. I was scandalized and viewed Mr. Ochs as a dangerous and heretical grown up. Now 46 (Yikes!) years later the song seems mild in light of my experience. I am playing it here so that all my readers will know what I am talking about.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Church and Real Estate: Occupy Hudson Square meets opposition in OLV Country

I heard about it on 1010 WINS this morning and read about it on the Daily News site ("Three Occupy Wall Street protesters busted for trespass in church-owned lot") The article explains:

"This strike is part of a month-long campaign to gain access to the site, where Trinity is developing a residential high-rise tower, the occupiers said.

The trio submitted a letter to Trinity Wall Street Sunday night, notifying them of three additional strikers who joined the group, along with a list of demands."

Trinity Real Estate, the real estate arm of the Episcopal church on Wall Street, holds the lion's share of office space in OLV country, also known as Hudson Square. It is backing a residential rezoning of the neighborhood. A Business Improvement Distric, Hudson Square Connection, is attempting to bolster real estate values with an aesthetic facelift of the area. On November 27, 2011, Hudson Square Connection kicked off the holiday season with an installation of "Flaming Cacti". These objets d'art are neither cacti, nor flaming. In fact they are not even illuminated.

Trinity Wall Street's web site states that revenue from the church's real estate holdings make it possible for the parish to do its good works. Could efforts to increase revenue end up having a negative impact on the area? I am pretty sure that if real estate values had not escalated Our Lady of Vilnius would still be open. Instead of attempting to work up some appreciation of the environmentally correct, cognoscenti-sanctioned "cacti" I would be feasting my eyes on Our Lady of Vilnius' molded plastic illuminated creche.