by: Emma Krummenacher
Before mass Ruta told the priest that we had come to visit today. When mass started, the priest told the congregation about us coming. I heard a word that sounded like America and then most of the congregation glanced back at us. I was worried that the people there would not be very welcoming of us coming into their church. As I watched the eyes turn back towards us, I originally saw this as a confirmation of my preconceptions. Then Ruta leaned over and told Rabbi Abie that the priest wanted him to come up and say something to the congregation. I quickly realized how wrong my original beliefs had been. The whole congregation had been super opening and welcome to us coming in and taking up four pews in their church.
This welcoming spirit was displayed again after mass when a reporter came up to our group and asked Ruta if he could get a picture of us with the priest. I was pretty surprised that a reporter wanted to take our picture. I feel like if a group of Lithuanians or anyone from another country came to mass in the United States people would not be unwelcoming, but they would just be kind of indifferent. That was not the situation here. After we got our picture taken, the priest invited us all into his sacristy. There he gave us all Divine Mercy Medals that he had blessed. After he had handed everyone one metal, he went back around and started handing us more. He was so friendly and opening to all of us. I have never had that close of a conversation with a priest after mass. Even though there was a language barrier and Ruta had to translate for both sides, the conversation seemed to flow almost effortlessly. Everyone was smiling and laughing which made the mood in the room feel so light and peaceful.