Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is located at 259 N. 5th Street, Brooklyn, New York. A parish is a community of believers, part of Christ’s Mystical Body, which sustains us through grace and belief. The parish strives to unite the faithful in Christ, to bring them closer to Him. An ethnic parish, such as Annunciation, joins those of a common language and tradition in a given geographical area. Pope Pius XII has provided for ethnic parishes as we know them today. Furthermore, the new Code of Canon Law also approved the creation and operation of ethnic parishes. According to such enabling language, Annunciation Church has been operating as a Lithuanian Roman Catholic parish with success in Brooklyn for many years.
PETITION FOR NEW PARISH
The early Lithuanian churches in the United States were established in the coal mining areas of Pennsylvania. The first Lithuanian church, St. Casimir, was founded by Father Aleksandras Burba in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, in 1889. In New York, Lithuanians established their first parish, St. Mary of the Angels in Brooklyn in 1895. Some years later, on May 5, 1913, a petition signed by over 1000 Lithuanians was presented to the bishop of Brooklyn, the Most Rev. Charles E. McDonnell, requesting that a new Lithuanian parish be established in the northern section of Williamsburg. The petition also asked that a school be erected as part of the parish.
In 1914, Bishop McConnell suggested that the Lithuanians acquire the church, school, and rectory built in 1863 by the once-thriving German community, which by then had dispersed throughout the city. Although the buildings were not new, they served the parish needs of the Lithuanians well. An agreement was reached with the owners of the property, and that very same year the Lithuanians took over the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The credit for the successful effort was attributed to parishioners Benediktas Scegauskas and J. Miliauskas.
It is believed that at that time the parish served about 2000 Lithuanian families. Among the active organizations were the following: Lithuanian Catholic Federation, Living Rosary Society, Holy Name Society, St. Monica’s Widows Society, Perpetual Rosary Society, Catholic Youth Organization, Legion of Mary, Holy Name Juniors, Knights of Lithuania Council 41, the Third Order of St. Francis, the Lithuanian American Roman Catholic Alliance Lodge 135, the Altar Society, and Altar Boys (about 30).
PARISH ORGANIZATIONS CONTINUE TO SERVE
By the time the parish celebrated its 60th Jubilee, much had changed. The number of previously active organizations had dwindled: the choir, the Knights of Lithuania Council 41, The Lithuanian Catholic Women’s Alliance Chapter 29, the Lithuanian Community organization and the Parish Council continued to operate. Though the numbers of active organizations had decreased, the surviving ones continued to play an important and productive role in parish life.
Faith and dedication continue to be fostered by our current parishioners. If we could reignite the enthusiasm of the parish’s early days, then the future of our parish would be assured. We hope that a new dawn will break into the beautiful rainbow colors of the religious and ethnic experience of our people.
This review was edited for publication. Read Petras Palys’s complete article in the history section of the parish website: http://www.nyapreiskimo.com/.