The Daujėnai Most Holy Name of Jesus parish

Aldona Vasiliauskienė

The history of the Daujėnai Most Holy Name of Jesus parish in Pasvalys Deanery (Panevėžys Diocese) is analysed in the paper from a chapel to filial church and a parish established in 1923.

Before becoming a parish, the Daujėnai belonged to Krinčinas that had been a part of Vilnius and later Žemaitija provinces in different times. From 1926, the Daujėnai Most Holy Name of Jesus parish is a part of newly formed Panevėžys Diocese and belongs to the Pasvalys Deanery. A chapel of St. Augustine in Porijai also belonged to the Daujėnai parish.

A detailed description of the statue of Jesus of Nazareth in Daujėnai is given; the statue is famous in Lithuania by its miracles (when the new church has been built, it was moved in and laid on a high altar). The church in Daujėnai was being built by Krinčinas dean Canon Jonas Jeronimas Šarkevičius (Joannes Hieronimus Szarkiewicz )(born about 1731, ordained a priest on February 14, 1761, died at the end of October, 1812; buried on November 1). An emphasis is laid on the fact that Daujėnai used to be famous by its Pentecost feast that was important for the parish people.

In 1903, the bishop appointed Varniai curate Rev. Vincentas Baltrušaitis (b. August 16, 1870; ordained in 1893; d. 1942) to Daujėnai, where he worked 39 years, till his death. The appointment of the curate to Daujėnai made it possible to make the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus into a filia (in 1909), and later (in 1923) into a parish.

Not only pastoral but also economic activities of Rev. Baltrušaitis are described in the paper: the dean cleaned the "holy" bog beyond the churchyard, took care of the living and expanded its holding property, put in order the Daujėnai new cemetery, which was famous in all the environs by its beauty. There lies Rev. Baltrušaitis who once said: "I warmly loved my parish people and they loved me". He managed to procure a land site for new cemetery at the Porijai chapel. The culture life in the parish is reviewed, and the educative level with five schools in Daujėnai parish of that time is described. Pastoral activities of the clergy in rallying and promoting live parish, as well as decorating the church is described.

For the first time the clergymen who worked in Daujėnai are presented: Rev. Juozas Merkys (b. March 4, 1916; June 16, 1940; d. March 3, 1983), Rev. Jonas Kazėnas (b. February 19, 1906; May 21, 1932; d. August 27, 1951), Rev. Jonas Rimša (b. February 9, 1905; June 14, 1930; d. April 21, 1996), Rev. Povilas Šalučka (b. January 13, 1867; January of 1890, died after 1944), Rev. Alfonsas Gražys (b. February 9, 1923; April 25, 1948; d. February 24, 1992).

The activities of an administrator (from January 1, 1943 to 1948), later a titled dean (1948–1950 and 1951–1962) who worked 18 years in Daujėnai, Rev. Feliksas Ereminas (b. January 7, 1890; May 16, 1915; d. October 27, 1962), decorated in 2012 with the Life Saving Cross, given the title of the Righteous Among the Nations on February 19, 2013 and his name is engraved in the Yad Washem Wall of Honour.

The efforts made by this priest to build a new presbytery, an “altaria”, are described. The literary activities of Rev. Ereminas and his works are discussed: in 1947, under the request by Bishop Kazimieras Paltarokas, he had written the history of Daujėnai parish and in 1945 began writing a diary.

The parish administrators who worked art different periods are introduced: in 1948–1951 Rev Antanas Benesevičius (b. May 28, 1900; May 25, 1929;d. June 12, 1975); in 1951–1957 Rev. Antanas Rameikis (b. Jule 1, 1912; June 10, 1945; d. February 1, 1991); in 1958–1964 dean administrator Rev. Antanas Kietis (b. January 14, 1905;June 26, 1934;d. May 19, 1996); in 1964–2000 m. Rev. Gaudentas Ikamas (b. September 10, 1920; March 25, 1959; d. November 18, 2000); in 2007–2012 m. Honoured Canon Povilas Varžinskas (b. November 25, 1922; December 19, l948; d. July 31, 2012).

The acolytes of the church are also recollected, and the assistance of clergy to the "Versmė" expedition is stressed; the crosses erected at the homesteads and public sites in Daujėnai, as well as a roof-pole, a Pensive Christ and other sites dear for local people are mentioned.

Three important appendices expand the paper. The first one presents life and activities of clergymen natives of Daujėnai. They are as follows: Rev. Antanas Kiznis (b. October 1 (13), 1871; December 23, 1895; d. May 26, 1935 05 26) from Girsūdai Village, buried in Daujėnai parish cemetery, Canon Jonas Kriščiūnas (b. February 16, 1896; May 4, 1919; d. December 24, 1968 12 24) from Berklainiai homestead, buried in the Vyžuonai parish cemetery, Canon Kazimieras Kriščiūnas (b. December 8, 1882; November 19, 1906; d. November 2, 1965) from Berklainiai village in Pumpėnai parish (from 1923 it is the Daujėnai parish), buried in the Pasvalys parish cemetery, Rev. Steponas Pelešynas (b. October 11, 1908; April 1, 1933; d. July 21, 1984) from Baluškiai village, buried in the Adomynė churchyard, Rev. Petras Rauduvė (b. February 17, 1901; June 14, 1925; d. August 20, 1982) from Girsūdai Village, buried in the Šeduva churchyard, Metropolitan Archbishop Juozapas Jonas Skvireckas (b. September 18, 1873; June 24, 1899; d. July 13, 1919; d. December 3, 1959 12 03) from Rinkūnai Village (grown in the village of Girsūdai), reburied on November 28, 1998 in Kaunas Archcathedral from Zams (Austria), where it lay in a special crypt of church monastery.

The second appendix tells about Rev. Feliksas Ereminas and a Jewish girl Regina Rachelė Rozenbergaitė (1925 05 24–1987 07 16) he saved her and baptised as Regina and backed her education. Having graduated from medicine studies she was married to Kodikas Šteimanas (January 14, 1922–November 6, 1983). To reveal this life story, reminiscences of local people are given, including those by a lawyer Isaakas Borveinas (February 9, 1927–May 22, 2012), who new well his relative Regina and used to keep company with Rev. Ereminas. Moreover, he enabled the author to get acquainted with Regina’s daughters Aviva and Lina, which live in Israel with their families. They very sincerely shared not only with their recollections but also photos of their parents and Rev. Ereminas they had kept safe and brought to Israel.

Due to their witnesses and efforts (activities of Danutė Selčinskaja should also to be mentioned; she heads the Righteous Gentiles and Commemoration Department in Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum), on September 21, 2012, Rev. Ereminas (posthumously) had been decorated with the Life Saving Cross (a decree No. 1K-1202, signed on September 10, 2012 by the President of the Republic of Lithuania). On February 19, 2013 he had been given the title of the Righteous Among the Nations, and his name is engraved in the Yad Washem Wall of Honour.

Rev. Ereminas is the 17th priest ant the 878th Lithuanian given the title of the Righteous Among the Nations. The Life Saving Cross (1992–2014) is awarded 1 227 Lithuanian citizens, including 35 priests, a Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius and Archbishop Teofilis Matulionis.

The third appendix presents a diary of Rev. Ereminas. It had been published under different titles before: “Sovietinio teroro sutemose” [In the Twilight of Soviet Terror: a unique diary of 1945-1946 Daujėnai Parish Dean] in 1994 and “Kančių dienoraštis” [A Diary of Sufferings] published in 2004 in the book “Daujėnai” to mark two anniversaries: 500 years of Pasvalys and 450 years of Daujėnai (the book has been compiled by Antanas Šimkūnas).

The recollections and witnesses told by Daujėnai people and written down by the author have been used. The rich archive material presented in the article enables to wider reveal the works done by Daujėnai, their personal traits, as well as becomes a source for further investigations.

The Daujėnai parish given the Most Holy Name of Jesus parish is introduced in the context of other Lithuanian churches of the same name.

The paper is illustrated by tables constructed by the author.