Date: February 11, 2001
Place: St. Elizabeth Seton Parish Church and Hall, Sun City, Arizona
Our Lithuanian Independence Day celebration started with a Lithuanian Mass celebrated at the beautiful St. Elizabeth Seton Parish church in Sun City, Arizona. Soloist Christine Lindquist contributed to the festive mood in the church with her beautiful rendition of Ave Maria.
After the Mass everyone moved to the adjacent parish hall, where the celebration continued. After a brief welcome by Rimantas Vaitkus, our m.c. Danguole Balceris took over the running of the program. The first half of the program began with the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner, the invocation by the pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton parish, Rev. Franklin L. Bartel, and a minute of silence to honor those who gave their lives for Lithuania's freedom. Then Juozas Budinavicius and Ruta Sweetsir read Lithuania's Declaration of Independence of February 16, 1918, and the Independence Re-establishment Act of March 11, 1990. Joana Ziuraitis read the proclamation by the governor of Arizona Jane Hull declaring February 16th as Lithuanian Day in Arizona. This was followed by Antonija Petrulis reading the Lithuanian-American Community's resolution concerning the invitation of Lithuania into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2002. The resolution was unanimously accepted by all those present. At this point our guest speaker, Vytautas Vidugiris from California, was introduced and he described the changes that he observed in Lithuania during the past decade.
The second half of the program consisted of six Lithuanian folk dances performed by Arizona's own dance group "Saule" ably directed by Dalia Motiejunas, and Lithuanian poetry beautifully recited by Aldona Gencius. The program ended with the Lithuanian National anthem. After the program everyone was treated to snacks, desserts, punch, and coffee, and a beautiful exhibit of traditional Lithuanian weaving and amber jewelry by Milda Kvedaras.
A special thank you goes to Mary Gallagher for being our ambassador to Archbishop Paul Marcinkus and pastor Franklin Bartel as well as making all the arrangements for the church service and the hall. We are grateful to the ladies of our community for preparing and contributing the wonderful food: Carol Adamavich, Siga Eidukonis, dr. Violeta Juodakis, Dalia Motiejunas, Ruta Motiejunas, Antonija Petrulis, Maryte Tallat-Kelpsa, and Aldona Vaitkus. We are also grateful to Rasa, Severina Vanagunas, and Rimtis Tallat-Kelpsa for manning the donations desk.