(Lietuvių) Kun. Nerijus Pipiras “Nepalikęs avių kaimenės: Dievo tarnas kun. Pranciškus Budrys”

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(Lietuvių) kun. Juozas Šalčius “Mūsų tautos dvasios milžinai”

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(Lietuvių) Ignacas Štachas, kunigas, blaivybės apaštalas (1796 – 1854)

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Barbora Žagarietė (1628-1648)

Barbora Žagarietė (about 16281648 year). According to continuous 400 narrative and written tradition, Barbora Žagarietė was born at the beginning of the 17 th century. She distinguished herself bu heroic Christian virtues and died under obscure circumstances. The old Žagarė church stands on the hill named after her.

Historicity of Barbora Žagarietė.

It is known that the identity of the virgin of Žagarė was first officially mentioned by the Bishop of Samogitia Antanas Tiškevičius. In his report to the Holy See in 1755 he wrote: “I suppose it is worth mentioning one virgin’s, dear to God, mortal remains. Among the living there is no one who could know this virgin’s name or descent – only in a dream she has appeared to some people and named herself Barbora”. Making reference to a story passed from lip to lip just a few years after her death, an extraordinary event initiated the cult of Barbora believing that she is a mediatrix and intercessor before God. When during one of the military interventions of the Swedish troops into Lithuania in the 17th century the invaders robbed and burnt down the Old Žagarė church together with the mortal remains of the deceased in the crypt, the body of Barbora, found in the ashes after the fire was intact, only blackened. Having no doubts about the truthfulness of that unusual incident, Bishop Antanas Tiškevičius in the above mentioned report to the Holy See continued: “Though submerged in the ashes of the dead, untouched by the roaring fire, not burnt in any part, including the hair – the unharmed body of the virgin was taken out of the ashes and laid respectfully into a coffin as a true witness of God’s might and her merits. Even now it is intact, only blackened”. In the same document, the Bishop of Samogitia prior to describing seven miracles that had been brought through Barbara’s intercession in 1735 – 1748 noted: “A great number of the ill-fated, tormented by incurable illnesses seek safety at the virgin’s coffin and in no time experience it. The narration would become immensely wide if all the eliminated ailments were at least run over”.

Prohibitions to Venerate Barbora Žagarietė.

After having transferred the mortal remains of Barbora to the crypt of the rebuilt Old Žagarė church in 1714, o few centuries lasting public devotness for the virgin of Žagarė started and has never classed ever since believing that she is a saint. In 1878, when Lithuania was enduring the yoke of the tsarist Russia, on the orders of the occupational authorities the crypt with the remains of Barbara was walled up. However, the attempts to weaken the faith to God through Barbora’s intercession in that way were fruitless. On the contrary, when nineteen years’ later repairing the church the body of the virgin was found still intact – the devotion for Barbora grew to a great extent.

History of the Mortal Remains of Barbora Žagarietė.

The remains of Barbora Žagarietė reposed in a glass coffin in the crypt of the church beneath the High altar. Since the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union in 1940, the attacks against the phenomenon of Barbora Žagariete had never stopped. Hostility had become especially strong in the period of 1957 – 1963.[4] In 1963, the occupational administration had the church shut down and the mortal remains of Barbora taken somewhere. Nowadays, only a symbolic casket in the same crypt and a memorial tablet on its entrance door remind us about the virgin herself. To get deeper into the remarkable life of Barbora Žagariete, further search of the documents in the archives is carried out, examination and registration of the testimonies of witnesses are implemented. Recent excavation work attempting to find a possible burial site of Barbora has not given any results.

Registration Book of Barbora’s miracles.

A hundred years’ after Barbara’s identity had bun mentioned for the first time in the middle of the 18 th century, on January 7 th 1860, Bishop Motiejus Valančius commissioned Fr. Limaževičius, parish priest at the Old Žagarė church to register the miracles or other God’s graces accomplished through Barbora’s intercession. This task gave the outset to the socalled registration book of miracles where until December 14 th 1940, ninety seven cases had been recorded.[5] None of those miracles, however, has been canonically investigated. Moreover, the book was thought to have perished. Only when Lithuania restored its independence in 1990, Fr. Boleslovas Babrauskas S. J., parish priest at St Peter and Paul’s church in Žagarė, commensed the search of it and three years later, in 1994 the book was found. This priceless registration book has survived thanks to Fr. Pranciškus Ščepavičius who during that difficult to Lithuania‘s Church Soviet period had worked as priest in the Old Žagarė church. No doubt, the book in still the best witness of the miracle worker Barbora’s sanctity fame – fama sanctitatis, which has never been interrupted by any changes or occupational regimes.

The Beatification Responding to the Bishop Eugenijus Bartulis of Šiauliai request No. 0376/04 of November 11 th 2004 to start the Beatification and Canonization Cause of Barbora Žagarietė, the Holy See on May 13 th 2005 informed that referring to the regulations issued by the same Congregation on February 7 th 1983 and assigned for the bishops executing the investigation of the Causes of the Saints, there are no obstacles to initiate the Cause.[6] Making use of the above mentioned permission and referring to the request of the faithful of the Šiauliai diocese, on September 24 th 2005, Bishop Eugenijus Bartulis solemnly initiated the Beatification and Canonization Cause of Barbora Žagarietė. To plead the Cause, the following Tribunal members have been appointed: the Postulator of the Cause – Fr. Marius Dyglys, the Delegate of Justice – Lc. D., Fr. Egidijus Venskus, the Counsel for the Defence – Lc. D., Fr. Saulius Paliūnas, the Notary of the Case – Lc. D., Fr. Tomas Kedušis.and Canonisation Cause.

Immortalization of Memory.

To express gratefulness to the Servant of God Barbora Žagarietė for healing his sister Sofija, in 2006, Alfonsas Lažinskas had an oak – tree road – side pole (by Rimantas Zinkevičius) put up in the Old Žagarė churchy ard which on August 6 th of the same year was blessed by Bishop Eugenijus Bartulis.

Scientific Works[edit]

  • Paulauskas A., Undeclared Saint of Lithuanian Nation, Bachelor’s research work of religion studies, R. Adv., Dr. Can. A. Kajackas. Kaunas Seminary for Priests, Faculty of Divinity. Kaunas, 1993. 36 p.
  • Matulytė E., Opinion of Sanctity and Worship of Barbora Žagarietė in Žiemgala, [Bachelor's research work of religion studies, R. Adv., Dr. A. Motuzas]. St. Anthony Institute of Religion studies. Kretinga, 1998. 37 p.
  • Margevičiūtė V., Barboros Žagarietės – XVII šimtmečio liaudies šventosios kulto istorija Lietuvoje, [Bachelor's research work, Adv. Dr. Jonas Boruta SJ]. Vilnius University, Faculty of History, Of Modern History Cathedrial. Vilnius, 1999. 38 p.
  • Karoblytė E., God’s Graces Accomplished through the Intercession of Barbora Žagarietė,[Bachelor's research work of religion studies, R. Adv., Dr. A. Motuzas]. St. Anthony Institute of Religion studies. Kretinga, 2001. 33 p.
  • Stupelytė J., Sanctity Fame of the Servant of God Barbora Žagarietė in Lithuania: traditions and the present. [Master's research work, R. Adv., Dr. A. Motuzas]. Vilnius Pedagogical University, Faculty of History, The Catholic Faith Cathedrial. Vilnius, 2007. 72 p.
  • Dyglys M., Veneration of the Servant of God Barbora Žagarietė in Žiemgala. [Master's research work, R. Adv., Dr. Jonas Boruta SJ]. Telšiai Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius Priest Seminary. Telšiai, 2008. 65 p.
  • Mitrikas K., Žagarė church history, [Bachelor's research work, R. Adv., Dr. P. Spurgevičius, Dr. L. Klimka]. Vilniaus pedagoginis universitetas, Faculty of History, Universal History Cathedrial. Vilnius, 2007. 43 p.

 

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ADELĖ DIRSYTĖ, martyr (1909-1955)

b965fd87d04d0ac7cec8452a4f17107f0490969fAdelė Dirsytė was born on 15 April 1909, in the village of Promislavas, Kėdainių rajonas (Lithuania), the youngest child of Antanas Dirsė and Agota Kagaišytė, both farmers. Her parents instilled the value of industriousness on their three daughters and three sons. Of the six siblings, only Adelė and her brother Jonas proceeded to higher studies. In 1928, Adelė became a philosophy major at the Vytautas Magnus University. She also became engaged in the activities of the Catholic Federation Ateitis (i.e., “the Future”) and gave lectures in meetings of Catholic organizations. She left the university in 1932 without, however, obtaining a diploma. The university’s faculty council would bestow it belatedly on her in 1940.

Once out of the university, Adelė became more actively involved in a variety of Catholic organizations. She was the board secretary of the Lithuanian Catholic Women’s Association Center and director of Caritas, an organization that took care of relief for the poor and orphans. She also wrote articles and poems that were published in Moteris (i.e., “Woman”).

When the Soviet occupation of Lithuania began in 1940, Adelė moved to Vilnius and worked as a teacher in a secondary school for young women. During the years of German occupation, she worked as a German teacher in the Trade School and in an adult education school. One of her students at the Trade School recollected:

The teacher was with us with all her heart. She was the master of our class of twenty young women. The teacher was concerned about our spiritual growth. We went together to the churches of St. Casimir, St. Raphael, and St. Teresa. Our dear teacher participated with us in all our retreats. We were prepared for these retreats by our time of upbringing in her class. We remember how beautiful and inspiring was her reading of St. Teresa’s life story, as well as the work of Marija Pečkauskaitė. She was concerned not only with our morals but our education as well. She wanted us to see as many plays as possible, tried to broaden our outlook on life, explained all kinds of subtleties, in the hope that we would grow as bright patriots of our motherland.

In addition to teaching, Adelė also participated in civic activities. She actively ministered to students and, together with Fr. A. Lipniūnas, organized relief for those who were in need. During the years of German occupation, for example, when all were threatened by death, she lived with S. Ladygienė, who was hiding a Jewish girl in her home. Adelė also helped another friend who was involved in the same activity.

By autumn of 1944, when the Soviet army reoccupied Vilnius, Adelė joined Fr. B. Baliukas, a seminary professor, and other intellectuals in discussions on ways to renew the activities of Ateitis. She was charged with the organization’s office for student affairs. She had also transferred to the Salomėja Nėris Secondary School for Young Women where she taught German. One of her students remembered her this way: “She was modest and very quiet. Although the class size was very large, she remembered names very quickly. Her lessons were a bit boring. She neither praised nor reprehended us. You got marks according to the way you learned. There were no religious lessons in the schedule. They took place in the hall of a nearby church and she took care of this.”

An organized resistance against Soviet occupation, which struggled for Lithuanian independence, was established in the capital toward the end of 1944. Adelė participated in their activity as well and worked for the strengthening of her people’s religious and national traditions. On 06 March 1946, she was arrested for hiding and abetting a person who had escaped from Soviet security arrest. She and a group of resistance fighters were tried by a military tribunal on 11 November. Accused of participating in the “counterrevolutionary activities” of Ateitis, Adelė was sentenced to ten years in a concentration camp and to five years of restriction of her rights. In the summer of 1947, Adelė and several other inmates were removed from their Vilnius prison to the forced labor camp of Chuma (Komi Autonomous Republic, Russia). Life there was extremely difficult, excessive physical work being aggravated by poor nutrition, lack of hygiene, and intense cold weather. All these affected Adelė’s delicate health. During moments of respite, however, she energetically organized conversations and discussions among the women inmates. Together they celebrated religious feast days and recited the rosary, made of bread beads under their plank-beds.

In the summer of 1949, Adelė and several women were transferred to the labor camp of Taishet (Irkutskaya oblast’, Russia). They were forced to work in railway construction by chopping stones, ordering the rampart, and working in the forest. Here likewise she was a spiritual leader to the young inmates. The following winter, they were moved once more to the Ui camp in Kolym. Life there was easier as they only had to work at service jobs, giving Adelė the opportunity to organize religious and literary meetings. The respite did not last long. By the summer of 1950, the Lithuanian inmates were relocated to the Magadan concentration camp. In the middle of all these, Adelė was able to write Prayer Book of Girls Exiled in Siberia. It was a small handwritten book (70 x 40 mm) of forty pages, sewn together and bound with fabric covers decorated with ornaments. The prayers were rewritten and amended with new ones in the passing of time.

Although the hard labor in Magadan enervated Adelė further, she continued her surreptitious ministry among young Lithuanian women. One day, a priest was detained in the nearby camp for men. Adelė, with the assistance of Juozas Brazauskas, a like-minded person from the men’s camp, arranged for the Eucharist to be brought to the women’s camp and distributed to Lithuanians. This activity was noticed soon enough by informants of the Soviet guards. From then on, Adelė was regularly stopped while going to and returning from work and beaten in a cold underground cell. She hardly complained about these, but her companions noted her increasing number of bruises and contusions during their bath. It dawned on them that she had already been marked for slow extermination. Adelė calmed them, saying that their guards were poor people they had to pray for. She asked them to continue writing down their personal prayers. Adelė herself wrote hers down wherever she could – sometimes on a birch bark – and rewrote them upon arriving at their camp. One of her inmates recalled: “I used to see that she suffered a lot. But she always offered her sufferings to Mary, Mother of God, for Lithuania. Tortured in this way, she became very weak, her head and breast often ached. After one interrogation, she was spitting up blood for a long time, her face swelled. Only later did she admit that all her teeth had been knocked out.”

In late autumn of 1953, on her return from work, Adelė was taken to the punishment cell for a week and then taken away to a mysterious location for the duration of winter. Adelė was brought back to her camp the following April, already mentally broken. Having found out about this, the young women collected food they had and in the evening came to Adelė. Her hair had been cut short and she was disheveled and heavily bruised. She recognized the girls and ate the bread and fish the had brought. However, when they asked her about where she had been, she began to toss wildly and call for her parents. She spoke of her torture only once: “She talked to me for a long time and I saw tears rolling down her cheeks for the first time. She said that there were very cruel interrogators in that place, especially one who tore out half of her hair. She showed me the scabs on her head.”

Toward the end of 1954, Adelė was moved to the section for the mentally ill in the camp hospital. She was very withdrawn and refused to eat. Her young inmates visited her but Adelė refused to take the food they brought for her. “No. I do not work, so I cannot eat. You who work must eat.” She wasted away rapidly. Adelė was not among the Lithuanian prisoners removed from Magadan in November 1955. A death certificate from the hospital claimed that she had died already on 26 September 1955 in Khabarovsk (Khabarovskiy kray, Russia).

With the memory of the teacher’s martyrdom persisting even after the democratization of Lithuania, the archdiocese of Kaunas began to work for Adelė Dirsytė’s beatification. The Congregation of the Causes of Saints issued the decree nihil obstat for her cause on 14 January 2000.

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(Lietuvių) Alfonsas Lipniūnas, kunigas, Štuthofo koncentracijos stovyklos kankinys (1905-1945)

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Elena Spirgevičiūtė, martyr (1924-1944)

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ELENA SPIRGEVIČIŪTĖ (1924-1944)
young layperson; martyr (uti fertur)

Elena Spirgevičiūtė was born at the district of Tvirtovės in Kaunas (Lithuania) on 23 December 1924. She began attending school at the age of seven and later joined the scouts movement. After finishing her primary studies, Elena was enrolled at the “Saulė” Girls’ Gymnasium of Kaunas, directed by the Sisters of St. Casimir. In 1941, she was moved to the VIII Gymnasium and graduated there in 1943. The years spent in school formed both her Catholic consciousness and Lithuanian nationalism. One of her relatives later spoke about her: “Elenutė was clever, vigilant, and respectful to elder people. She listened carefully to advice when it concerned matters of noble living.”

A good deal of what we know about Elena’s interior life are based on entries in her diary. She began writing on 12 October 1940 and her last entry was dated 02 June 1942. It revealed not only a young woman who struggled with life’s daily ups and downs but also a determined individual with deep insights into Christian living: “Honesty, modesty, and intelligence are important. So I am trying to live these and I believe I will succeed.” Although piously disposed, Elena sought to balance her personal religiosity with the life expected of her peers. She participated in school socials but maintained her modest bearing: “It is very decent to wear a uniform (in a party)… I am not after making acquaintances. I only want to dance and have a good time… that’s all.” During one retreat, she recorded the following thoughts: “I have decided to be a good Catholic, but it is difficult without the support of the Lord and I am lost. I desire to be good, not to lead an empty life but to contribute something good, and to be useful.”

The incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union in August 1940 and its occupation by the Nazis in July 1941 brought its people in an unwanted environment of anxiety and death. In September 1941, the Nazis ordered the mass shooting of Jews living in the ghetto of Vilijampolė in Kaunas. Elena witnessed these events in horror and recorded them in her diary. In spite of the currents of despair surrounding her, she continued to write about living and loving. By February 1942, Elena began to record her attraction to religious life: “My heart is full of something. I rejoice at having understood happiness. But I am thinking seriously that greater peace could be found behind the railing. Convent. The name itself clearly speaks about solitude, silence, and peace. Lord, these are serious dreams, I want this most certainly… I would leave everything… Oh, I wish the war would end soon! I would finish school and enter there, Father, closer to You! Evening parties and dances that I sometimes go to, when considered more deeply, are true vanities, immodesties. These can be avoided only with You, Lord… I want this, not because I am not beautiful. No, there are no such thoughts in me. Beauty is dust. One grows old, stoops, and there is no sign of beauty… I want to be beautiful inside.”

There was nothing remarkably extraordinary in Elena’s day to day living. Even though she spent a good amount of time in reading, she also served as an invaluable help to her mother in domestic chores. Without needing to be asked, she was attentive to others, helping quickly and quietly wherever she was needed. Those who knew Elena remembered that although she enjoyed having a good time with her friends, she frequently talked about God, the Church, and religious matters. Men were attracted to Elena but she never had a boyfriend. This preoccupied her mother. Unawares of her daughter’s attraction to religious life, she reproved Elena for her choice of clothes, her silence, and her “bigotry”. She did not see anything extraordinary in her daughter and tormented herself with worries about Elena’s future as a homemaker.

In 1943, Elena graduated from the Gymnasium with mostly good and excellent marks. Wanting to become a pediatrician, she enrolled at the Faculty of Medicine of Kaunas State University. However, she hardly had began her studies when the Nazis closed the university. Not wanting to waste her time doing nothing, Elena decided to study German and French privately. She took some short-term courses that were organized in Kaunas for potential teachers. In autumn of 1943, she received an assignment to teach in the district of Jonava. However, bloody encounters between the Nazis and Soviet partisans have made living in Kaunas pernicious. Because of this situation, Elena decided to remain with her parents and wait the war out before fulfilling her assignment.

On 03 January 1944, at around 10:30 p.m., the Spirgevičiai family was disturbed by raucous voices outside their door. The father came out and encountered four armed men. They introduced themselves as police officers and insisted on entering his house, claiming they had to check documents. He obliged and let them in. Once inside, the four pointed their loaded guns on the residents and identified themselves as Soviet partisans. They pinned the father against the wall and demanded alcohol, food, and clothes. Elena’s aunt, Stasė Žukaitė, panicked and tried to escape, but she was shot dead by one of the partisans. They then gathered the members of the household into one room.

One of these men saw Elena and began making impudent moves on her. He then took Elena to another room and tried to persuade her to give in to his desires. When she adamantly refused, he brought her to her mother insisting that she persuade Elena to submit to him. For about half an hour, he kept dragging her and threatening to shoot her if she refused: “We are not playing games! One of you lies dead already. Her fate awaits you as well.” The reaction of Elena’s poor mother, seeing her daughter in such a precarious situation, can only be imagined. Seeing her being dragged from one room to another, her father asked her: “What do they want from you?” She replied: “Don’t you know, father, what they want from a young woman? I will not surrender… I’d rather die….” Elena knew that her aggressors, drunk and saber rattling, were determined to satisfy their lust, but she remained resolute. Her family could hardly decipher the inaudible conversations taking place in the other room except for Elena’s determined “No!”.

Although they have gathered everything they wanted, the partisans did not quickly leave. They sat around a table and talked among themselves for a long time. They then took Elena aside once more and angrily demanded: “Give in or you will die!” Without any hesitation, Elena answered firmly: “I would rather die!” She then asked to bid farewell to her family. Standing calmly with a shining face, she made a large sign of the cross on her family and told them: “I will die and you will live.” These were her last words. There was no fear or panic in her behavior. She returned to her aggressors. With the barrel of a pistol aimed at her, the four repeated their demand. Her refusal was returned with a thunderous shot. Elena’s distraught mother rushed through the door and found her dead daughter slumped on the sofa.

News of this tragedy shook the whole town. Crowds flooded the Church of St. Anthony where Elena and her aunt, both clothed in white, were laid out in open coffins. The story of Elena’s heroic resolution to die rather than to submit to the passion of her male assailants affected the mourners. She was buried with great reverence in the town cemetery. When this was closed in 1957, Elena’s remains were moved to the Eiguliai Cemetery in Kaunas. A majestic monument was erected there in her honor with the following epitaph: “Died tragically while defending her honor and left an unforgettable image of a great Lithuanian for her people. A martyr’s wreath for you and a national honor for us.”

The memory of Elena’s heroic death persisted throughout the Soviet occupation of Lithuania and beyond its independence in 1991. While preparing for the celebration of the Holy Year in 2000, the archdiocese of Kaunas, under the leadership of Archbp. Sigitas Tamkevičius, began to work for the official recognition of Elena Spirgevičiūtė’s martyrdom. The Congregation of the Causes of Saints issued the decree nihil obstat for her beatification process on 22 October 1999.

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Mother Maria Kaupaite

Fotografija iš Pažaislio vienuolyno archyvoEvidently Bishop Brizgys’ long association with the Sisters of St. Casimir and his warm sentiments for them prompted him to pen this series of vignettes about their foundress. Using several hitherto untapped primary sources, the author offers a brief, popular introduction to Lithuanian readers about a remarkable pioneer religious, whose undistinguished peasant youth hardly forecast her extraordinary role away from her homeland in the New World. Once she was chosen as Superior General in 1913, she was repeatedly re-elected, with Vatican approval, until her death. Indeed, her obituary of 1940 in the Chicago Examiner called her a “second Cabrini,” (p. 156). Marija Kaupaitė not only launched the first Lithuanian community of nuns in the United States in 1907, but later in 1920 expanded her apostolate to her land of birth. There her legacy was most impressive: twenty-nine primary schools, three secondary schools, and two hospitals. Little wonder that she received the “Gediminas” medal in 1933 from the Lithuanian government in recognition of her contribution to the state. (In fact, the government also awarded this insignia to Mother Cyril of the Scranton-based Immaculate Heart Sisters (p. 80) for her guidance and counsel during the infant stages of formation of the Casimirites.)

Nevertheless, only four decades after her death has Mother Maria begun to gain some attention in her own ethnic circles. Hitherto Lithuanian-language sources have had little to say about this sterling character. Kučas’ history — Amerikos Lietuvių Istorija, for instance, does not even have an index entry under “Kaupaitė,” though he does give some mention to the Sisters themselves.

Some significant data, not generally known, comes to light in this slender volume. Here are some examples. The reader is enlightened to learn of early deaths among the Sisters (p. 123) — nineteen in their youth prior to 1940, and many, still in their prime, who were handicapped by illness of one kind or another. What’s more, there is the detail about the American Red Cross furnishing

bed linens and blankets to the Sisters (p. 130), as they established their mission in Pažaislis, Lithuania under post-war conditions of want. Furthermore, there is the unsuccessful caper of Archbishop Skvireckas and his partisans (p. 140-2), seeking to make a sudden break with the American Sisters, by inaugurating an independent community. Finally, one learns that Mother Marija and her Sisters are credited with reviving in 1938, at the request of Cardinal Mundelein, the bankrupt Loretto Hospital in Chicago.

On the disputed issue of the true founder of the Sisters of St. Casimir, Bishop Brizgys offers a revisionist view (p. 162-65). In his biography of Milukas, Mingėla lauds his subject as deserving the principal acclaim as founder. Kučas, in his biography of Staniukynas, stresses the latter’s role as instigator. Indeed, the towering monument of Staniukynas, erected on the motherhouse grounds in the 1920s, bears the inscription — “įsteigėjas” (founder). Some time later, the Sisters, in a revisionist mood, officially settled on the title “co-founder” for the priest. Bishop Brizgys puts both Milukas and Staniukynas aside, goes beyond the view of the Sisters themselves, and delcares Mother Maria as foundress, “about which there is no basis for doubt whatsoever,” (p. 165).

 Some intriguing questions about Mother Maria and the Sisters remain yet unsolved. Why did Bishop John Shanahan of the Harrisburg diocese (site of the first Casimirite mission at Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania) — the original benefactor of the community — momentarily lost heart over their future viability (p. 82)? And why did he quickly revert to his earlier optimism? And what was the precise role of Bishop Michael Hoban of the Scranton diocese, in whose jurisdiction the first Sisters trained? Lithuanian sources indicate that the Sisters soon shifted their attention to Chicago, as the recognized population center of Lithuanians, and established their motherhouse there, rather than in Pennsylvania. Yet Charles Shanabruch (p. 306, “The Catholic Church’s Role in the Americanization of Chicago’s Immigrants, 1833-1928,” unpublished doc. diss.. Univ. of Chicago, 1975, and later published in a revised, abridged version) states that the Sisters came to Chicago at the bidding of Archbishop James Quigley to “ease tensions” between Lithuanians and Poles in the archdiocese. What tensions? Not an insignificant number of Lithuanian young women had joined Polish religious communities, in the absence of their own ethnic order of nuns. Nevertheless, Polish superiors often assigned Polish and not Lithuanian Sisters to teach in Lithuanian schools, while assigning.

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(Lietuvių) Marija Rusteikaitė (1892-1949), Dievo Apvaizdos seserų kongregacijos (DP) įsteigėja, Dievo Tarnaitė

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Mečislovas Reinys, Lithuanian Roman Catholic bishop (1884–1953)

MEISLO~1Mečislovas Reinys (1884 – 1953) was the Lithuanian Roman Catholic bishop, a professor at Vytautas Magnus University, a Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and a social activist who publicly condemned racism and national hatred. Mečislovas Reinys was imprisoned by the Soviets after refusing to collaborate with the KGB and sent to Vladimir Prison, where he died in 1953.

Mečislovas Reinys was born on a farm in the Zarasai region on February 5, 1884. In 1900 he graduated with honors from a gymnasium in Riga. From 1901 to 1905 he studied in the Vilnius divinity school; two years afterwards he was ordained as a priest. Reinys continued his studies in Russia and Germany, receiving a master’s degree in 1909 from the Saint Petersburg Roman Catholic Theological Academy. He successfully defended his doctoral thesis in Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in 1912. With his fellow students he worked at organizing a Lithuanian students’ league.

After returning to Lithuania, Reinys became a vicar in Vilnius in 1914. Between 1916 and 1922 he lectured at Vilnius University; between 1922 and 1924 he lectured at the Kaunas Priest Seminary. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs during 1925 and 1926, and was then consecrated as a bishop.

Mečislovas Reinys was arrested by Soviet authorities on June 12, 1947; he was accused of anti-Soviet activities, and investigated for six months in the Vilnius KGB office. He was sentenced to eight years in jail and sent to Vladimir prison, where he died on November 8, 1953.

In the 1990s a committee was formed to establish the grounds for canonisation of Reinys along with Teofilius Matulionis and Vincentas Borisevičius. Pope John Paul II mentioned these three in a 1993 speech at the Hill of Crosses. A diary of Reiny’s expenditures during the 1920s is part of the case; it documents his donations to 48 different societies, foundations, unions, museums, newspapers, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and parishes, in addition to his support of his family. Documents in the Lithuanian Special Archives reveal the course of his interrogation; many of his relatives had been deported to Siberian labor camps, and the KGB offered to release them in exchange for his cooperation.  Reinys refused.

Mečislovas Reinys published works in the fields of psychology, pedagogy, theology, and ethics.

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