Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Adelaide Catholic Women's Society

Adelaidės Lietuvių Katalikų Moterų Draugijos 
(Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Women's Society)

The Lithuanian Catholic Women’s Society (LKM) is an old organisation that began in Kaunas in 1907.  It began at a time when the Russian occupiers of Lithuania wanted to extinguish all things Lithuanian and all things Catholic.  During Lithuania’s independent years the society worked for the improvement of women’s lives, and to assist and improve the disadvantaged.  In the free world the LKM society exists to strength Catholic women so they can work for God and their homeland.

Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Women’s society was formed in March 13th 1960.  However the women were working informally for ten years before the official start date.  The beginning started in September 1956 when Father Jatulis formed the Lithuanian parish council Caritas.  Caritas is a Latin word meaning love and compassion.  At that time, the church had purchased a property at Christies Beach and work had begun on the new church in St Peters.  There was a lot of work for women to do.  Amongst the first volunteers were K. Dičiunienė, M. Gerulaitienė, A. Mainelienė, A. Stepanienė.  At the beginning the women would travel each Saturday with the men to Christies Beach to give them a hand.  The women worked for the parish at were known as “Karitietemis” (A derivative of the word Caritas).

In September 1957 a new Catholic priest came to the parish, Father Juozas Kungys.  The women’s involvement in the parish increased.  Balls, catered occasions, events at Christies Beach, camps, farewells, visits from other Catholic clergy all involved the women.  On the 20th October 1957 Birutė Budrienė was elected to oversee catering.  Any profits made from events would go to Caritas, but from November that year the women’s group separated themselves and formed the Lietuvių Parapijos Moterys” (Lithuanian Parish women).   A committee of five was elected, A Stepanienė (President), A. Mainelienė (Treasurer), B. Budrienė (Catering), K. Dičiunienė(Information officer), and member G. Opulskienė.  This group existed until 13th March 1960 when it transformed into the Lietuvių Katalikų Moterų Draugijos.  K. Diciuniene, M. Gerulatienė, A. Stepanienė were chosen to organise the charter.  The new committee consisted of K. Diciunienė (President), M. Gerulaitienė, A. Mainelienė, E. Kervelienė, G. Opulskienė, Saulenė Pušdesrienė, and A. Uldukienė.

The society made lunches and dinners on various occasions, a hot traditional lunch every Sunday after mass, a light lunch for the Lithuanian school on Saturday for the teachers and students.  A community Christmas Eve was held, feast days observed, and the sick visited in hospital.  

The group would raise money through fairs, lotteries, buffets, weddings and Sunday lunches.  The money raised would be reinvested into the church, in the form of clothes for the priests, coverings for the altar, carpets for the floors, the library, and the general upkeep of the church.  Kitchen white goods were purchased, fridge, stove, cutlery and crockery, lawn mower, curtains for the stage.  Money was donated to Lithuanian Catholic newspaper in Australia and overseas.  Donations were given to the poor, disasters, and hospitals.  

An annual concert “Šiupinys” was held. A concert of various acts, music, skits, recitals etc.  

The Adelaide branch is a member of the World Lithuanian Catholic Women’s Association.

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