Msgr Conton's Homily

Pictures from the Event

Friends of Saint Peter Lithuanian Parish- Update #10 September 20, 2004

Jubilee Greetings to all!

Well, our wonderful parish celebrated its 100th birthday in grand style and enthusiasm on Sunday, September 12, 2004.

Folks gathered at 9:15 a.m. in front of the church on a gloriously sunny and brilliant morning to make history. The assembled group posed for a picture in front of the church that was decorated with a large banner proclaiming our Jubilee and a lovely homemade banner, adorned with rutas, pleading for the life of the parish. Parishioners, clergy, confirmation candi9dates and friends smiled and hoped that they would be together for a photo to celebrate the 101st birthday of the parish.

The Jubilee mass began at 10:00 a.m.! What an emotional experience…seeing the church full to capacity, standing room only! Young and old parishioners, each reveling in the significance of the day. The altar was beautifully decorated with yellow mums wrapped in green paper and adorned with red ribbons. A subtle hint at our patriotism and pride in our Lithuanian roots. Most parishioners wore their red, yellow and green Save St. Peter Lithuanian Parish buttons on their Jubilee finery.

The mass was enhanced by the Jubilee choir whose melodic voices filled the breadth and depth of the church. They sang the mass responses, the psalms, specially chosen hymns and musical pieces composed by Jeronimas Kacinskas, long time choir director and Julius Gaidelis, a log time parishioner. Kudos to Daiva Navickas, the choir director and all Jubilee choir members, for a magnificent performance.

Bishop Baltakis celebrated the mass. In attendance on the altar were Msgr. Contons and Fr. Zukas. Other guest priests included Fr. Shakalis, Fr. Prusaitis, Fr. Cannon, Fr. Carr, Fr. Zarauskas and the pastor of the local Polish parish.
Msgr. Contons preached the sermon in Lithuanian and English. He addressed the Archdiocesan plans to “reconfigure” the archdiocese and close our parish. At the conclusion of his heartfelt, logical and emotional homily, he was heartily applauded and honored by a standing ovation by the assembled throng. You may read Msgr. Conton’s homily in its entirety by clicking here.

Bishop Baltakis confirmed six candidates and spoke to them and the congregation in a short homily.
At the conclusion of mass, Fr. Zukas unveiled a magnificent clay model of St. Peter Lithuanian Church. These clay replicas of our church were made in Lithuania especially for the jubilee. They were sold at the Jubilee luncheon and will provide a wonderful memento in the years to come.

After mass, almost 500 parishioners traveled to Anthony’s Pier 4 Restaurant to continue the celebration. Others, went into the church hall and lit 100 candles on a cake, sang Ilgiausiu Metu and shared the delicious pastry.
At Anthony’s Pier 4, guests purchased souvenir clay models of the church and received a juosta (sash) woven in Lithuania as a souvenir of the luncheon. English and Lithuanian versions were available…1904 Sv. Petro Lietuviu Parapija 2004/1904 St. Peter Lithuanian Parish 2004.
A table was festooned with 3-foot tall silver numbers – 100 – a 2-foot tall raguolis, ruta and other flowers and 100 votive candles.
The mood was festive and celebratory! It was like a reunion for many parishioners. Each table centerpiece was a mini- raguolis sitting in a field of greens. It was taken home by the individual who had been a parishioner the longest. All socialized and were treated to a wonderful luncheon comprised of salad, onion soup, popover rolls, prime rib, dill potatoes and mixed vegetables. Dessert followed the program and was eagerly anticipated as the waiters scurried to serve baked Alaska covered with strawberries and pieces of the raguolis.

The highlight of the afternoon was a power point presentation highlighting the 100-year history of our parish. Everyone enjoyed seeing old photos and familiar faces. The computer program was enhanced by the live performances of Egidijus Stancikas from the Kaunas Drama Theater. He played the role of Petras Lazauskas, one of the church founders. He was dressed in period clothing and made you believe that Lazauskas had come back to visit. He also portrayed Msgr. Virmauskis quite realistically. Those who did not understand the Lithuanian text could follow along on the screens where the text was written in English. Additional vignettes were presented by Sr. Eugenia Glineckis, Alice Ruseckas, Gita Kupcinksas and Arnold Plevock. Ms. Daiva Navickas, a talented and creative talent, prepared the program.

An Anniversary moment followed. Parishioners of Parish Past were invited to light a candle. Among these were Bronis Kontrim, Albert Kleponis, Blanche Razwad, Ann Norinkavich, Robert Ruseckas, Eleanora Chaplick, Albert Siauris, and Albert and Aldona Kropas. Some of these parishioners were 6 or 7 years old when the parish was consecrated. Parishioners of Parish Present were then invited to light candles. These individuals represented those individuals who are active and ever-present in parish life. Finally, Parishioners of Parish Future, those under thirty years of age, approached to light candles. When all had returned to their seats, the table was ablaze with 100 votive candles that seemed to illuminate the large 100 digits on the table. Five hundred voices joined together in singing Ilgiausiu Metu! There was a depth of emotion visible on faces as each one of us was probably privately hoping that a miracle would occur and our beloved Parish would survive.

Fr. Zukas and Msgr. Contons briefly greeted the assembly. Gloria Adomkaitis, the mistress of ceremonies, extended greetings from the Friends of St. Peter Lithuanian Parish. She thanked everyone for his or her financial, spiritual and emotional support during the past months. She encouraged everyone to send his/her ideas, comments, suggestions to the website. She also reminded everyone that the fight to save the Parish would begin in earnest when the official letter of closure is received.
Danute Dilba took many photos of the celebration. We shall enjoy a visual history of our 100th Jubilee celebration for many years to come. Please visit the website to see photos of the wonderful Jubilee celebration of St. Peter Lithuanian Parish.

Until next time –

Gloria R. Adomkaitis
For the Friends of St. Peter Lithuanian Parish

PS Please share this update with friends and family who may not have computer access.