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Monday, February 23, 1998
Pottsville Republican/Evening Herald

Lithuanian freedom celebrated

SHENANDOAH -- Two hundred people celebrated the allegiance of the Lithuanian people on the 80th anniversary of Lithuanian Independence Day Sunday at St. George Church. Following the service, a special meal was served Lithuanian-style with participants enjoying kielbasi, meatballs, potatoes and rye bread.

For the service, women dressed in traditional Lithuanian clothing and presented gifts at the alter, including a figurine of the Blessed Mother and a dove, to signify peace.

Anna H. Laurites, 30 S. Catherine St., who presented the Blessed Mother, called the event a success. ``I think it was beautiful. We really had a nice turnout,'' Laurites said about the event. Laurites, who has participated in the event for the last 10 years, also helped prepare the meal.

Dignitaries at the celebration included U.S. Rep. T. Timothy Holden, D-6, state Rep. Edward J. Lucyk, D-123, and Shenandoah Mayor John ``Jack'' Thomas, who presented St. George pastor, the Rev. Robert J. Potts, with citations. ``Americans of Lithuanina descent have contributed so much to our society,'' Holden said. Lucyk was glad to make his 18th appearance at the celebration at St. George, the oldest Lithuanian church in the country. ``The will, piety, reverance of the Lithuanian people ... their allegiance to their church is rare,'' Lucyk said.

Rev. Potts spoke proudly of the Lithuanian people. ``They're doing a good job as a country,'' Rev. Potts said about the more recent independence of the Lithuanian people. The counrty formally declared its independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990. It was recognized by the Soviet Union in September 1991 and the last Russian troops withdrew on Aug. 31, 1993. Rev. Potts said it is not an easy task for a people to change to a free society, as Lithuania has. ``We shall continue tp pray for Lithuania, and all our other brothers and sisters that have gone through similar situations themselves. They're strong-willed and determined, and they make us proud of them.'' Rev. Potts said the event couldn't have been celebrated in a better way. ``We had good weather, good people, good food, and a good fellowship praying for Lithuania,'' he said.

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