For Immediate Release
Ramute Zukas, President Lithuanian American Community NY District
New York, January 19 — The Lithuanian American Community, New York District strongly condemns the announced decision of the Archdiocese of New York to close Our Lady of Vilnius Roman Catholic Church. The announcement was not contained in diocesan press releases regarding a formal Parish Realignment Plan, but has been leaked in news reports.
“For many months, the parish community has attempted in vain to confirm rumors regarding the closing of this historic, diverse and vibrant parish,” Ramute Zukas, President of the Lithuanian American Community, New York District, said. “Our parish administrator, Father Eugene Savicki, trustees and other parishioners have been stonewalled by the archdiocese at every turn as they have sought any authoritative information regarding this secretive process. We are committed to challenging this shadowy decision, out of respect for both the current members of this faith community and the generations that built this beautiful church and sustained it over the course of the past 102 years.”
Public outcry in response to the rumors has been expressed in thousands of signatures on an online petition (www.petitiononline.com/ OLV2006) and in letters and calls to the Archdiocese, which have not met with any definitive statements re-garding reasons, timeline or any other specifics.
Our Lady of Vilnius Roman Catholic Parish was founded in 1905 to serve the spiritual needs of immigrant Lithuanian Catholics. Located on Broome Street at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, it is the only Lithuanian parish in Manhattan.
The church is a vibrant parish serving not only Lithuanians but a colorful and diverse group of parishioners from the lower downtown area. For over two years Mass has been held in the parish hall while awaiting insurance payments to repair minor damage to the church roof. Such claims by individual parishes must be paid through the Archdiocese.“This jewel of a church represents the heart of the Lithuanian Community in Manhattan,” Zukas said. “Crowds celebrating the Lady of Vilnius Feast Day and traditional Christmas Eve still come to this sacred Lithuanian Shrine even though they mostly have to crowd into the cramped basement and pour out onto the sidewalk.”