Insulation Provided Against Winter Cold for a Church in Lithuania
In winter, it can be bitterly cold in Lithuania. Even temperatures as low as -22° F are not uncommon. The children of the parish of the Holy Spirit in Grigiskes, not far from the capital Vilnius, sent a touching letter to ACN: "We would so like to go to church, but our parents won't allow us when it is so cold. We would like to pray in the church. Perhaps you can help us and send some money to make our church a bit warmer."
There was no insulation inside the Church of the Holy Spirit. The same was true of the pastoral center in the parish, where the children are given religious instruction. "We put on warm clothes for the religion lessons and drink hot tea to keep ourselves warm," the children reported. They wore thick woolly scarves around their necks and woolly hats on their heads as they bravely followed the lessons given by the nuns.
In fact, the parish is something of a second home for these children. Unemployment is high here, and often one of the parents goes abroad in search of work, so that they can send money home. "Euro-orphans" is a phrase one hears frequently nowadays in Eastern Europe. Poverty is tearing families apart, and often the children are unsupervised and left to themselves. Any kind of meaningful leisure activities, in sports clubs and the like, cost money, money that their families cannot spare.
This is where the parish community can play an important role, helping to look after the children and giving them a sense of security and shelter and an opportunity to spend their free time creatively. The Holy Spirit parish offers a range of different activities and also organizes summer camps in the mountains, where the children can have fun and enjoy a change of scenery.
Of the 12,000 or so inhabitants of this small town, some 8,000 are Catholics. Lithuania is in fact the only majority Catholic country of the former Soviet Union. Yet, after the many decades of communist rule, the Church still faces many challenges. Much still has to be rebuilt and restored. EU entry by this Baltic state has not brought any benefits to the Church; instead, in Lithuania today, as in most countries of the so-called "free world," those who strive to defend Christian values and a Christian way of life have to struggle against a cold and hostile culture.
Given these conditions, it is all the more beautiful when children actually voluntarily attend religious instruction and willingly go to church, and when many people still want to come to Holy Mass. But what was also clear in this case was that if the children were to be kept away from the church because of the cold, then many would not come back later and so they would lose contact with the Church.
Thanks to the generous response of our benefactors, the children's SOS did not go unheard, and ACN was able to give a donation of $32,400 for the necessary insulation. All the faithful of the Holy Spirit Parish in Grigiskes say thank you!
This now completed project is an example of our work. If you would like to support a similar project, then please indicate the reference code below when making your donation. Thank you.