Vaclovas Aliulis collection
Vaclovas Aliulis (1921-2015) was a Lithuanian Catholic priest. During Soviet times he participated actively in underground catechisation, and was a lecturer with the Underground Catholic Seminary, which was established to train priests for Catholic parishes in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and other Soviet republics. Aliulis is the author of a number of books and other publications; and during the times of Sąjūdis (the Lithuanian national movement), he was the initiator and organiser of Catholic publishing. He started to collaborate with the Lithuanian Central State Archives from 2003, transferring files from his private papers to the state archives. The documents in the collection show the situation of the Catholic Church and the community of believers in Soviet Lithuania, and Soviet policy on religion.
10102 Vilnius O. Milašiaus gatvė 19 , Lithuania
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Name of collection
- Vaclovas Aliulis collection, Lithuanian Central State Archives, fond R-945, inventory 1.
Provenance and cultural activities
Vaclovas Aliulis (1921-2015) was a Lithuanian Catholic priest. During Soviet times he participated actively in underground catechisation, and was a lecturer with the Underground Catholic Seminary, which was established to train priests for Catholic parishes in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and other Soviet republics. Twenty priests were prepared in the seminary to serve in Catholic parishes. Knowing that in Soviet times the official training of priests in the Kaunas Seminary suffered from frequent intervention by the government, the activities of the Underground Catholic Seminary were important to the Church and to the community of believers. Unfortunately, for reasons of secrecy, seeking to make the seminary's work safe, no draft or published documents were produced. According to Algirdas Katilius, the author of a book about the Underground Catholic Seminary, the educational process in the seminary was very personalised. Lecturers like Vaclovas Aliulis taught one or small group of seminarians at a time.
The documents in the collection reveal Soviet government policy towards the Catholic Church, the community of believers, and the difficult conditions for priests in providing catechisation to the community. On the other hand, some material shows not only the political struggle between the government and the Catholic Church, but also attempts to find a way of coexistence. There were some grey zones of negotiation and communication between these two, when an understanding of common interests (such as keeping up moral standards in Lithuanian society, or restrictions and fighting against negative tendencies such as alcoholism) led to attempts to come to an agreement in slowing down the anti-religious campaigns by the Soviet government, and limiting the non-Soviet rhetoric from Catholic priests. Nevertheless, these attempts had very limited success, because of Soviet ideology, in which atheism was one of the most important elements. Vaclovas Aliulis was the chair of the Liturgical Commission of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, and was therefore very involved in the religious situation and policy of that time, which is perfectly illustrated by documents in the collection.
Aliulis is the author of a number of books and other publications; during the times of Sąjūdis (the Lithuanian national movement), he was an initiator and organiser of the Catholic press. He started to collaborate with the Lithuanian Central State Archives from 2003, transferring files from his private papers to the state archives. We do not know why Aliulis chose the Lithuanian Central State Archives as the place to keep his documents. According to Vaidas Agurkis, an archivist with the Lithuanian Central State Archives, he was very involved in the process of the transfer of documents from his private papers to the state archive. He read every inventory and document in the collection, making suggestions to archivists about them. Some documents have references Aliulis made by hand during the transfer to the archive that explain the origin and meaning of the document, like why a letter was written, and what the answer was. This shows that he was very interested in presenting his activities during Soviet times, and was interested in giving his own interpretation of events of those times.
Description of content
Vaclovas Aliulis collection consists of 397 files. Not all of them are related to cultural opposition, because some files are from the period after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, some files from the Soviet period are important for understanding the Catholic cultural opposition. Correspondence, letters from Aliulis to Soviet government institutions revealing the religious policy and the situation in Catholic communities (see, for example, file 37 of the collection), and drafts of Aliulis’ sermons, are very interesting in this regard. From the latter, we can get an authentic feeling of what kind of sermons Lithuanian priests gave in churches during Soviet times, how they reacted to the realities of everyday life, and how they interpreted the activities of the Soviet government.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 100-499
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Vilnius O. Milašiaus gatvė 21, Lithuania
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
Streikus, Arūnas, interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, July 05, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Agurkis, Vaidas , interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, May 17, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Katilius, Algimantas, interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, August 29, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection