Friends of Saint Peter Lithuanian Parish – Update #5 July 22, 2004

Greetings to all Friends –

Since the last update, many individuals have spent many hours working on public relations, research, finances and everything else which comes our way. E-mails as well as regular mail letters are plentiful with diverse individuals writing to offer support and ideas. The steering committee strives to answer all correspondence and phone calls in timely fashion.

At one of its weekly meetings, the Steering Committee, at the request of the Appeals Committee, identified additional persons to help with research. The list was forwarded to David Ferrari of the Appeals Committee. Since that time, the PR committee, under the direction of Mirga Girnius, has taken an active role in helping with research. Volunteers have been assigned specific research tasks and are fanning out to the Copley Square Library, So. Boston newspapers and ALKA in Putnam, CT. Many thanks to each and every volunteer who is generously dedicating time and energy to this monumental task. If you have some time and have not yet volunteered to help, how about doing so today? Just send a note to the steering committee and we will connect you with an assignment. All we need is enthusiasm and a willingness to spend some hours poking around old newspaper article. Please help, if you can.

The steering committee, through the PR committee, has asked to have the demographics of new immigrants verified. At the very least, we hope to have an updated and accurate email database.

The Steering committee is looking for information about the original church founding committee by searching for heirs or descendants of the following members: Peter Chaplikas (Chaplik), Peter Lazauskas, Frank Zilvytis, Kazys Lapinskas and John Ramanauskas. To this end, a search has been requested through the NE Genealogical Society, the names will be published in the August parish bulletin and flyers, seeking information, have been prepared to affix to automobiles at the annual picnic of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, in Putnam, CT on Sunday, July 25, 2004.

On July 7, 2004 a meeting with our canonical advisor was held in the church hall. Mr. Ritty explained in great detail what he has done on our behalf. He has familiarized himself with our position as an ethnic/personal parish and has advised what we, as a community, should be doing to further our cause. He suggested that another round of letters to the church hierarchy would do no harm and may help. He is poised to file an official appeal to the closing of our parish just as soon as we receive the official letter of suppression. To date, we have received only a letter of intent to suppress.

Every ten days or so, the steering committee, on behalf of the parishioners, writes another letter to Archbishop O’Malley requesting a meeting. To date, all letters have been ignored. We shall continue writing letters.

In addition, the parish council is requesting a response to the invitation, issued well over a year ago, to Archbishop O’Malley, inviting him to our 100th Jubilee Mass and celebration. This invitation is also being ignored.

The PR committee planned a vigil, which took place on Saturday, July 17th. The purpose of the vigil was to call attention to our plight in a prayerful and respectful manner. Parishioners received postcards alerting them to the details of the vigil and a bus was provided to take parishioners from the church to Commonwealth Ave. in front of the Chancery where the vigil took place. Approximately 80-100 parishioners braved the hot, humid weather to gather with placards, Lithuanian costumes and flags and lots of energy and determination. It was a long day. The vigil began at noon and ended at approximately 8:00 p.m. Most individuals spent about 3 hours at the site. In this way, there was a presence there for 8 hours. Prayers were said, hymns were sung, a lot of water was consumed and our determination to fight to save the parish was cemented even more firmly than before. Thanks to Mirga Girnius and Daiva Navickas for coordinating the event. Appreciation to each person who came to the vigil. It matters! If you could not participate in this activity, please plan on taking part in the next one. Thanks to Daiva Kiliulis from the website committee for creating buttons done in red, yellow and green with a Lithuanian motif design and the words SAVE St Peter Lithuanian Parish, So. Boston. It unified all participants and eloquently sent our message. More buttons are being prepared. When you receive yours, please wear it. It is hoped that all attendees at the Jubilee mass and banquet will wear these buttons to demonstrate solidarity to media that maybe present and to archdiocesan officials who may be present at our celebration.
Please check the website for photos or the vigil. Photos courtesy of Dana Dilba and Algis Adomkaitis.

On Friday, July 16th, a small group of sympathetic Lithuanians, gathered in front of the Vatican Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania to draw attention to our plight. This group was able to meet with the papal nuncio and spoke about our situation. They were cordially received and even shared a photo op with the nuncio. One of the group was able to speak in Italian with the nuncio so we know that he got the message. Thanks to Aldona Abidaoud for arranging this symbolic gesture of support.

Kudos to the PR committee and particularly to Pat Plevock, whose efforts resulted in an electronic billboard just off the SE expressway in Dorchester proclaiming SAVE ST. PETER LITHUANIAN PARISH SO. BOSTON in blazing white lights on a brilliant blue background. The billboard was observed on Wednesday evening, July 21st at approximately 10:00 p.m.
It was observed as some of us retuned from a follow up session with Newsweek magazine. As you recall, Newsweek Magazine interviewed members of Samburis, the Lithuanian Folk Dance Group in the church hall a few weeks ago. The reporter announced that the magazine has given the green light to publish an article on the closing of ethnic parishes in the archdiocese of Boston and would like to have photos from our church hall and the dance group to accompany the article. On July 21st, Newsweek photographers came for a “photo-shoot” and in approximately 4 hours, took more than 500 photos in the Church and in the Hall. Now we must wait to see if anything else will happen. Keep tuned and let’s hope that all the invested time and energy will result in some positive results for our cause.

At the Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival in Chicago, July 4th weekend, many people were aware of the perilous situation in which we find ourselves and offered sympathy and support. Many other communities, scattered throughout the US, fear the same fate for their parishes in the years to come. As a result of that weekend and the buzz about our parish, a Lithuanian attorney from Chicago has offered his assistance. Also, the President of the Lithuanian American Community and the Chairman of the Board have offered their support and help as we wage our battle to save the parish.

The Appeals Committee has concluded interviewing attorneys for future litigation and has voted to retain the services of a well-known and highly respected Boston attorney. The attorney will begin to explore aspects of our situation and advise us about any further actions.

Donations to fund our activities are still being received, however, now at a trickle. We are close to our goal of $100,000+ but still need to collect monies pledged to take us over the top. So, if you have not yet sent in a donation or your pledge, please take a minute and do it today.

The archdiocese has sent appraisers to the parish rectory and church to evaluate items that have a worth of $500. or more. They are preparing!

Finally, a mailing about the 100th Parish Jubilee and Banquet was sent out the first week in July. It is important to have a great showing at the mass and banquet. We hope to have media coverage of the event. Please send in your banquet ticket reservations by August 15th. Let’s make the 100th Jubilee and event to remember!

So – in conclusion-

*write letters
*donate money
*send suggestions and ideas
*reserve your banquet tickets
and *THINK +

Until next time –
Gloria Adomkaitis for the Friends of St. Peter Lithuanian Parish