Photography with a neighborhood dimension…

Posts from the ‘News’ category

An Open Letter…

…to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish Community in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood and our partner in Renew My Church…Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, MIC mission in the Village of Lemont…

Can we honestly say today that our Catholic and Lithuanian faith tradition are important to us? Without question we can say yes! This is very well evidenced by the the Christmas holiday that just passed and the celebration of the Epiphany and Baptism of Our Lord which we celebrate this week. The first priority was not the exchange of presents, but the reverence of the manager and the Birth of Jesus with Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds. We did this at our parish and mission. But there is a missing dynamic here as to how we did this…separately and not sharing the Christmas Plotkele with our brothers and sisters at the mission…we celebrated that most holiest of meal…Kūčios by ourselves. We have been in discussion ad finitum on the proper way to be a faith community according to the guidelines set forth in Renew My Church by Cardinal Cupich. This includes among other issues the proper management of our parish and mission in ministry, education and finances. For this we need only look at our neighboring parishes here on the Southwest side of Chicago…Saint Christina…Christ the King and Saint Barnabas. To start with, we are in need of permanent Deacons both at the parish and mission. We are in need of a full time music and choir director; religious education director; acolytes/lectors/Eucharistic Ministers. A full time business and development manager together with a youth minister. You ask, why can some neighboring parishes have this and we not…this is because we have not yet learned to share and support each other in Renew My Church. Our First Communion and Confirmation classes are separate … our parish and mission social events are separate…we do not share. We have a parish convent populated by two nuns that can be used for parish events and organization such as the Legion of Mary…Holy Name Society etc… A nun’s residence is a quarter a block away at the Saint Casimir Center; that includes a vacant chaplain’s residence. One of the nuns could easily become a religious education director at the parish coordinating with the mission. None of these issues are under discussion because of strict ethnic thinking that the parish is in decline…the mission is ours and we do not want any interference from Archdiocese of Chicago. A fear grounded in the idea that we have to conform to inclusion rather than exclusion…we must welcome all of our brothers and sisters as Christ did…this has to change or we will not survive. If you look at the average age of those that attend the liturgies…you will soon see that it is in the late 60’s. Only major solemnities are attended by the larger Lithuanian community. You may ask why…because we do reach out to the younger generations in offering a vibrant parish and mission with services that I have already described. If we do not soon look to these our brothers and sisters in faith…we shall find ourselves not a community that we could call our own.

Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, MIC

On Sunday, July 16th the Catholic Church universally, and in particular, the Marian Congregation (priests,brothers and lay) commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Beatification of Marian Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis, MIC. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Shrine Parish in Chicago’s Marquette Park community will join with other Lithuanian parishes throughout the world in prayer for the canonization of this saintly man; the Second Founder of the Marian Congregation of the Immaculate Conception. His ministry here in Chicago is still alive and well on the Marian Campus in the West Lawn community; where the Lithuanian newspaper DRAUGAS is still published…please join us this weekend at the 11am Solemn Mass as we pray for his eventual canonization.
Nativity BVM is located at 2700 West Lithuanian Plaza Court; 773-776-4600.



On Friday, January 27th the Catholic Church universally, and in particular, the Lithuanian hierarchy commemorate the Memorial of Marian Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis, MIC. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Shrine Parish in Chicago’s Marquette Park community will join with other Lithuanian parishes throughout the world in prayer for the canonization of this saintly man; the Second Founder of the Marian Congregation of the Immaculate Conception. His ministry here in Chicago is still alive and well on the Marian Campus in the West Lawn community; where the Lithuanian newspaper DRAUGAS is still published…please join us this weekend at the 11am Solemn Mass as we pray for his eventual canonization.

Nativity BVM is located at 2700 West Lithuanian Plaza Court; 773-776-4600.

Sunday, October 16th at 1pm…


A concert not to miss in a beautiful shrine parish of Our Lady of Siluva and Blessed Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis, MIC…

Mezzo-soprano Judita Leitaite is our guest at Nativity B.V.M. Parish.
Judita Leitaite will perform Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 1 p.m. at Nativity B.V.M. Parish, 2700 West Lithuanian Plaza Court in Chicago’s Marquette Park community. Three children’s choirs of Darius Polikaitis “Vyturys”, Alinos Simkuvienes “Svajone”, and Dalia Gedviliene “Chicago Lithuanian School” will help our soloist.
This is the fifth “Under The Angel’s Wing” concert. The purpose of this conert is educational. We are trying to unite the best Lithuanian musicians with emigration youth so they will learn how to love and cherish their rich musical haritage. The concert will be in one of the most beautiful churches of Chicago, already known by top world musicians like Ariana Kim, Ieva Jokubaviciute, Richard Budginas, Virgilijus Noreika, Ciurlionis Quartet, Avalon Quartet and others.
Mezzo-soprano Judita Leitaitė is among the most exciting, creative, and widely recognized soloists of Lithuania. Her concert career started when she was still a student. Success at international competitions – M.Glinka Vocal Competition in Baku (1987) and the International Vocal Competition in Finland in 1991 – prompted her further career.
Judita Leitaitė studied with renowned masters such as E.Schwarzkopf and T.Kraus (Germany), C. Bergonzi (Italy), J. Goldberg (USA), prof. S. Maltsev (Russian).
Judita Leitaitė performs regularly throughout her native Lithuania. She is on demand not only on the main concert stages, but also various radio and TV programs, schools, orphanages, churches, benefit concerts, as well, as jazz concerts and religious events.
She has made successful appearances at numerous international festivals in Poland, Denmark, Vilnius and London, as well as “Palaces of St. Petersburg” in Russia and “Music on the Water” held at the Palace of the King of Sweden. Her performance at the Baltic Music Fest in Sweden was a true sensation: “Audience was charmed not only by the beauty of the voice of fabulous vocalist Judita Leitaitė, but also by her compelling musical rendering.” She became the Summer Star of Newport Music Festival (USA). “The North American debut of Lithuanian mezzo-soprano Judita Leitaitė was greeted by thunderous ovations,” wrote Newport Music Festival press.
Judita Leitaitė has toured Scandinavia and the former Soviet Union, Germany, France, Holland, Poland, Israel, Great Britain, USA, and the South African Republic. Among Leitaite’s concert partners are the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Vilnius String Quartet, Čiurlionis String Quartet, and Lithuanian and international pianists and organists. She has studied and collaborated with conductors such as Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Saulius Sondeckis, conducting Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Juozas Domarkas, and Leo Botstein (USA) conducting the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, and Constantin Orbelian conducting the Moscow Chamber Orchestra.
Her record credits include a number of LPs, 12 CDs and well over 300 recordings for the Lithuanian Radio. Noteworthy recordings: music for film Vilniaus getas (Vilnius Ghetto), Balakauskas’ Requiem in Memoriam Stasys Lozoraitis, Russian romances, 20th century hit programme Renkuosi meilę (I Chose Love), CDs of Christian songs Tau, mano angele (For You, My Angel). Mano mėgstamos Skandinavijos dainos (My Favourite Scandinavian Songs), recorded in original language, received Finnish and Swedish critical recognition. Recently she has recorded Menu kerinčius valso garsus (I Recall Enchanting Sound of Waltz) and Nuoširdžiai jūsų (Sincerely Yours).
For contributions to Lithuanian culture Leitaitė was decorated with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great; in 2005, she was awarded the State Culture and Art Prize; in 2007, she received the Gold Disc.
During the concert you will hear pieces by American and Lithuanian composers. Tickets can be bought at The Nativity B.V.M. parish, “Old Vilnius” cafe or before the concert for $15 for adults, $10 for students and children under five are free.img_1079

Note Bene…

Renew My Church…

Everyone had their say in this matter…the Regional (V) Vicar, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago Andrew Wypych offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday, October 2nd at Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, MIC Mission in Lemont. He explained in his homily the discussions that will take place over a long period of time between Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Shrine Parish (Rev. Jaunas Kelpsas, Pastor; Rev. Gediminas Kersys, Associate); and Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, MIC Mission (Rev. Algis Baniulis, SJ, Chaplain). The Renew My Church format, at the archdiocese’s recommendation,  is now being discussed   on Monday’s at the mission. These discussions will familiarized the congregants with the implementing process.  In prayer, let us work to make this happen for the betterment of our both communities…

…joe kulys…

Jesus, I Trust You!…

Welcoming the Metropolitan Archbishop of Vilnius (Lithuania) to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Shrine Parish, 2700 West Lithuanian Plaza Court in Chicago’s Marquette Park community…

Saturday, March 12th 

4pm Vigil Mass for the fifth Sunday in Lent

5pm His Excellency, Archbishop Grucas will present the Divine Mercy film with a discussion to follow. Remember that Saint Faustina Kowalska resided in Vilnius when Our Lord instructed her to have drawn the image of Divine Mercy. That image is enshrined in a sanctuary chapel in Vilnius.

11am on Sunday, March 13 the Archbishop will celebrate a Solemn Mass in joyful celebration of the life and missionary endeavors of Saint Bruno of Querfurt; a martyr who brought Christianity to Lithuania and the Baltic states. A mosaic crafted by well known artist Ada Sutkus of Beverly Shores, IN and donated by Rima and Dr. Linas Sidrys will be Blessed by Archbishop Grucas and installed in the sanctuary.

12:30 pm a dinner in honor of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Vilnius will follow with a short program of welcome to our parish community of Nativity BVM here in Chicago’s Marquette Park community. Reservations and information can be had by calling Audra Zakarauskas at the rectory office 773-776-4600. The pastor of Nativity BVM is the Rev. Jaunius Kelpsas; the associate pastor is the Rev. Gediminas Kersys.


David Moore

Honorable David Moore

Alderman-Elect of the 17th Ward

Alderman Moore represents our ALVUDO, Lithuanian Retirement Apartments at 6500 South California Avenue as well as Catalyst-Maria Schools (Christian Brothers); Saint Casimir Campus (Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago); Holy Cross Hospital (Sinai Health System); and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish and Shrine at Lithuanian Plaza Court and Washtenaw.


Honorable Derrick Curtis

Alderman-Elect of the 18th Ward

Alderman Curtis represents Seklycia/Lithuanian Human Services on the 2700 block of 71st Street. We are especially proud… because the Alderman holds the rank of Captain in the Illinois Police Reserves (IPR) located in his ward at  2735 West 71st Street.

The agenda for our community is all about economic development and how we could become another Andersonville or Ukrainian Village in Marquette Park. We are well familiar with crime on the Southwest Side…and we do remember the greatness of our community in former years. We were so concerned about this issue that back almost twenty years we had an advisory referendum to establish a Special Service Area (14) to address this security issue. The referendum passed overwhelmingly and we started with a robust security team of off duty police in police equipped vehicles to enforce that security. The security officers were to represent the residents and home owners in any complaint procedure…so that they did not have to file a complaint and go to court. The SSA 14 was and is funded by a property tax assessment from residential and commercial property with in the district. A voluntary commission is appointed by the Mayor at the recommendation of the local aldermen. The administrator of the district is Lithuanian Human Services (LHS); the current vendor selected by LHS is Illinois Homeland Security. As I said previously, this has been in operation close to twenty years and with the current economic situation and the property decline through board ups and foreclosures; the security personnel have declined to limited hours… we have only one vehicle with a security officer that is patrolling the area. With every good intention under the new contract; it was proposed to have upgraded vehicles and a bicycle patrol through out the area; this was never implemented. There was an offer by the Illinois Police Reserves (IPR) to the administrator and vendor to offer a voluntary bicycle patrol detail per the contract. These contract issues have never been addressed. But the question begs itself…why the crime in any area that shows so much promise? The Marquette Park Community is situated in an area of Marquette Park…a beautiful park that has an outstanding 18 hole golf course (privately administered). Go down a short distance on Marquette Road or 63rd Street and you will be at Midway International Airport and a growing hotel and restaurant complex with a connection to the CTA’s Orange line… a 20 minute jaunt to the Loop. The Ford City Shopping Mall was recently purchased by a large conglomerate and are currently doing a $20 million dollar renovation…we are 15 minutes from Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park down Southwest Highway…but what about Marquette Park…what do we need is an economic development plan that was used in Logan Square…Bucktown and Lincoln Park. We have a wonderful community hospital… Sinai Health System’s Holy Cross Hospital (equal to Little Company of Mary in Evergreen Park) that has transformed their own Sinai Hospital (adult/children) and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital to a medical center complex equal to none. With a trauma center that address the most serious of injuries in a modern complex of buildings. There is a future for Holy Cross here in Marquette. The Catalyst/Maria Schools an envisionment  of the DeLaSalle Christian Brothers of the Midwest Region brings a necessary concern to education from preschool (Nativity Pre School) to adolescent years. They sponsor Lewis University in Romeoville southwest of Lemont. They also have a full functioning airport on site. From undergraduate to graduate level courses in education or business could be offered in the late afternoon and evening at Catalyst/Maria. The Saint Casimir Campus will now welcome over 200 Catholic Charities  employees of the Archdiocese of Chicago…an enormous campus that can also host many organizations and projects of our Lithuanian community from the scouts to the UIC Lithuanian program to the Seniors. But what is most important that we can now deal with is economic development that can be handled in conjunction with the Aldermanic offices of both the 17th and 18th wards. We need to address all of the board ups on Lithuanian Plaza Court and 71st Street. We need new construction with a Red Lobster at 71st and Western (in the vacant parcel); and the beginning of new town home construction on these main streets and the arterial streets.  A quick demolition of dangerous buildings. Streets need to be resurfaced. And most importantly construction has to begin with the complex at Marquette Village; and a developer has to be invited by our local aldermen to coordinate the various aspects of the new Marquette Park. You say it is not possible; and I say take a walk through Ukrainian Village at Western and Chicago Avenues…you will change your mind. Again my congratulations to Alderman-Elect Moore and Alderman-Elect Curtis!

%d bloggers like this: