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Draugas Hits the Newsstands

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a column written for Draugas News in November by the Very Rev. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior of the Marian Fathers in the United States and Argentina. Draugas [whose title is the Lithuanian word for "friend"] is published by the Lithuanian Catholic Press Center in Chicago, Ill., in association with the Marian Fathers. Founded in 1909, Draugas published its first English edition this past November.

For more than a century, Draugas, the Lithuanian Catholic daily newspaper, has come into the homes of your parents and grandparents, to your educational, religious, and cultural institutions. It has been a welcome guest, a native messenger that reports current news from around the world, the United States, and the beloved homeland. But Draugas has always been more than a simple newspaper — it has been a standard bearer of Lithuanian culture, tradition, and spirituality. It has formed minds and hearts. It has gathered Lithuanian people scattered around the world, and allowed them to share their lives, express their opinions, obtain news about each other, and grow in the knowledge of all that constitutes the uniqueness of being Lithuanian. From its beginning, Draugas was intended to be a publication that promoted social and political values that coexisted with religious ones in a dynamic harmony. With the sound intellectual and spiritual formation of its readers in mind, it strove to bring greater good, wellbeing, unity, and Christian hope.

Draugas News, the new monthly publication that we are placing into your hands, aims to convey the very same sentiments, values, and traditions of Draugas, but now in the English language. Can it succeed? Will it be able to convey the same spirit and achieve the same ends as the Draugas daily? My heart tells me "Yes." Just as a person's heart finds joy in visiting the family home, or coming to know unknown relatives and friends, so will Draugas News' readers continue to discover the treasures of their homeland, only in English.

It is true that translations are inadequate to express the richness of poetry, national songs, and prayers with their unique sounds and sense and spiritual power, and words are limited in communicating the joy and gratitude of the heart upon hearing traditional Lithuanian hymns sung in the Marijampole Basilica or the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chicago. Nonetheless, the experiences, knowledge, and love of one's beloved homeland can be shared to a significant extent in another language, such as English.

Thus, Draugas News — through its reports of events, expositions of the richness of the national traditions of Lithuania, and personal reflections and stories, coming not only from the homeland but also from all the places where Lithuanian families are found — will enrich the lives of the younger generation. Draugas News will facilitate cultural and religious discussions, help its readers form deeper ties, and keep alive the rich traditions of culture and faith of the Lithuanian people.

It was the dream of Fr. Staniukynas, Draugas' founder, that Draugas would be a life-giving leaven for the Lithuanian community to sustain its national heritage and unique religious character. He understood that to accomplish this task and bring about lasting values within society, the laity must work collaboratively with priests and religious. Thus, when establishing the daily newspaper, he enlisted the help of the laity.

Unable to carry the editorial responsibility by himself, Fr. Staniukynas asked the Marian Fathers for help. In 1916, the Marians formed a partnership with the Lithuanian Catholic laity, and throughout its long history that partnership remained. And in this joint effort, we continue to make this extraordinary publication available to both Lithuanian and, now, English speaking readers. We wish to make this "friend" a welcome guest in all the homes where the Lithuanian heart beats with love for God and country. Please make this wish a reality. Please share this "friend" with others and assist its growth and continuity.

May Our Lady, Mother of Mercy of the Dawn Gate, radiate that tender love of her Son Jesus into each one of your hearts, and may you experience her maternal protection over your family and all your loved ones.

For more information, visit the Draugus News homepage.

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