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Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester, 64 km westwards from Boston has a population of 180 000, ~2% Lithuanian (~4000). This is the 5th largest number of Lithuanians among all US cities (after Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia).

St. Casimir Lithuanian area

Massive Gothic revival St. Casimir Lithuanian church (41 Providence Street) offered regular services here from 1916 to 2009. Final mass was held in 2010 for Lithuanian independence day and the building was sold in 2011 to charismatic Christians for 650 000 USD. Altair and other sacred items were removed beforehand, but the St. Casimir‘s bust on the facade remains with the Lithuanian words „St. Casimir, pray for us“.

St. Casimir church. Its massive size and a hilltop location shows the size of Lithuanian community Worcester once had.

The St. Casimir bust on the St. Casimir church.

Former members of the parish (established in 1894) maintained a large informative website dedicated to the church which was created for an unsuccessful struggle against merging their parish with English-speaking St. John parish (now offline).
Interestingly, one of the priests of St. Casimir drowned with Titanic while arriving in the USA. He is said to have acted especially heroically there, giving up his lifeboat seat and helping the dying passengers.

Not far away from the St. Casimir church stands the former St. Casimir Lithuanian school which has a bas-relief of Lithuanian coat of arms and a Lithuanian inscription with its name on its facade. Today, however, it is a school for difficult children.

Worcester Lithuanian school.

An old Massachusetts tradition is to call intersections as „squares“ named after World War 2 veterans who lived in the area. As every Lithuanian church centered a small Lithuanian district, so there are at least three Lithuanian-named squares in the vicinity of St. Casimir: Miglauckas, Kirminas, and Maleskas.

Maleskas Sq. sign.

Kirminas Sq. sign.

Our Lady of Vilna Lithuanian area

Worcester was large enough to have a second Lithuanian church, gothic revival Our Lady of Vilna (153 Sterling Street, built ~1925). Today it serves the Vietnamese community indicating that the modern migration to America is mostly non-White, unlike that of the 1900s. Vietnamese-Americans have one thing in common with Lithuanian-Americans however: many of them immigrated after their country has been overrun by a communist invasion.

Our Lady of Vilna church in Worcester. It is the last so-named church in the USA.

Despite the ethnic change, the impressive interior of the church remains staunchly Lithuanian. There are more Lithuanian inscriptions here than in nearly every other Lithuanian church (even the saints behind the altar have their Lithuanian names written near their images). Some Lithuanians still pray at the church, although its institutions (school, parish hall) are now mostly used by Vietnamese. Lithuanian visitors are welcome.

Our Lady of Vilna church interior.

Gediminas street still exists in church vicinity (named after Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania, 1275-1341, traditionally held to be the founder of Vilnius). In fact, the entire hill the church proudly stands on used to be referred to as Gediminas hill (which is a locality in Vilnius). After all, the church was built in the times of Lithuanian-Polish conflict over Vilnius, this likely influencing the prevalence of the Lithuanian language and Vilnius-related symbolism.

Gediminas street sign.

Another testament to that is the memorial for 7 local Lithuanians who died in WW2 in front of the church. Those people died for the USA rather than Lithuania, yet the memorial also has Lithuanian inscriptions and the names of the veterans are written in Lithuanian, with Lithuanian characters and without the changes imposed by the US immigration authorities.

Memorial for Lithuanians die din WW2.

Not far away from the Our Lady of Vilnius church is the building of Lithuanian club, which is adorned by bas-reliefs of both American and Lithuanian coats of arms. Worcester Lithuanians built everything in a way that even after losing their buildings the decor still reminds of the history.

The former Lithuananian club in Worcester.

Maironis Park in Shrewsbury

The suburb of Shrewsbury includes Maironis park (52 South Quinsigamond Avenue), named after the famous Lithuanian patriotic poet of 19th-century national revival. This is a building rented out for celebrations (including Lithuanian holidays).

The building has a rather plain exterior as the historic club which stood here burned down several decades ago. The interior of its replacement, is, however, rather grand, as it includes Lithuanian paintings on its wooden walls. These were painted by a Lithuanian-American Rūkštelė who lived within the premises while he worked.

Some of the Lithuanian scenes at the Maironis Park hall.

Next to Maironis park stands a Memorial for those who died for Lithuania adorned in patriotic symbols (Columns of Gediminas, Vytis (the coat of arms), two Crosses of Vytis). Built in 1978, this memorial initially stood at the St. Casimir church. However, it was relocated after the church was sold in fear that the new owners would have destroyed it otherwise.

Memorial for those who died for Lithuanian freedom at Maironis park.

In 2010 the Worcester municipality recognized its partly Lithuanian roots by twinning with a town of Ukmergė in Lithuania.

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  1. It was great city to grow up in. My past is full of wonderful memories of St Casimir’s Church and school and the nuns that tried to keep us on the right path (without success I might add). Even now Maironis Park is known throughout the United States as one of the iconic centers of Lithuanian culture.

  2. Does anyone remember Olympia Park. It was a great Lithuaniangathering place in the summer. People from all over the country used to come on busses. I loved it there.

  3. My mom and aunt and uncle sang in the Lithuanian Chorus. Helen Smith. Irene Janulis and Richard Janulis and nsna Helen Zelinskas?

  4. I remember Olympia PARK AMD THE MANY,MANY STEPS DOWN TO THE LAKE


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