Annunciation Parish - Past and
A parish is a community of believers, part of Christ's
Mystical Body, from which flows grace and truth. The parish seeks to
unite all of the faithful in Christ, to bring them closer to Him. An
ethnic parish, like our own Annunciation, unites those of common
language and tradition in a given geographical area in the movement
toward Christ. Pope Pius XII, in a special constitution, gave us the
ethnic parish as we know it today, and according to that
constitution Annunciation Church has been operating with success in
Brooklyn for many years.
Other groups, such as the Germans
and Polish, founded ethnic parishes before the Lithuanians, and
Lithuanians attendee services in such parishes at first. After a
time conflicts arose over matters of language, so the Lithuanians
eventually sought to found their own parishes.
Lithuanian parish in the United States was established in
Pennsylvania [The first Lithuanian church (St. Casimir) was built by
Father A. Burba in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, in 1889. In New York,
Lithuanians founded their first parish in 1895 - St. Mary of the
Angels in Brooklyn. 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 expressed the desire to found a
school next to the church.
In 1914, Bishop McConnell
suggested that the Lithuanians buy the church, school, and rectory
built in 1863 by the then thriving German community, which had
gradually dispersed throughout the city by that time. Although the
buildings were not new, they served the purposes of the Lithuanians
well. An agreement was reached with the owners of the property, and
that same year the Lithuanians took over the Church of the
Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The most credit for the
successful effort must go to Benediktas Scegauskas and J.
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, Council 135 of the Altar Society,
Altar Boys (about 30 pupils), ushers and others. It is believed that
the parish incorporated about 2000 families at that
Clearly the first twenty five years of the parish were
creative and active. The parish priests, organizations, and the
individual parishioners gave evidence of their deep desire to
promote their religion and their culture. Their faith and dedication
left a permanent mark in the history of the community.
time the parish celebrated its 60th Jubilee, much had changed. In
place of the many previously active organizations, the parish could
boast of relatively few - the choir, the Knights of Lithuania
Council 41, The Lithuanian Catholic Women's Society Chapter 29, the
Lithuanian Community Council and the Parish Council. Though the
numbers of active organizations had greatly decreased, the surviving
ones continued to play an important role in parish
Faith and dedication remain alive in our current
parishioners. If all of them and especially the young people, can
recapture the enthusiasm of the parish's early days, then our parish
will be with us for years to come. Our hope in the breaking of the
dawn remains alive, a dawn that will break into the beautiful
rainbow colors of the religious and ethnic experience of our people,
if we but have faith in ourselves.
This page was authored by Petras Palys.
on this page: The altar of Our Lady of the Dawn Gate, AUSROS
VARTAI, also called Our Lady of Vilnius in English. This altar piece
was rescued from the now closed St. George Lithuanian Parish Church,
Second photo on this page: Blessed Jurgis
Matulaitis Altar, Carved by parishioner Charles Visotsky.