J. Katelė


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The biography of priest Jonas Katelė

The educative activity of priest Jonas Katelė

The eldership of Panemunėlis

Church of the St Joseph patronage in Panemunėlis

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Biography of priest-educator Jonas Katelė

Jonas KatelėJonas Katelė was Lithuanian priest, educator, secret teacher and organiser of Lithuanian book smuggling and secret Lithuanian schools. He was born on 13 January 1831 in Suvainiškis (Kupiškis volost), died on 21 May 1908 and was buried in Panemunėlis. After graduating from Varniai Diocesan Seminary, which was lead by M. Valančius, in 1855, Jonas Katelė was a priest in Naujamiestis (1856–1872), Dusetos (only one month in 1861), Zarasai (1861–1872) and Panemunėlis (1872–1908). In Zarasai, Jonas Katelė found a parson Mykolas Skorupskis, a good friend from the Seminary time. They have worked hand in hand in the parish. A lot of work ought to be done because Zarasai was not a small town. Church repairs were necessary to perform. Having received a letter from M. Valančius, who called for the establishment of secret Lithuanian schools in villages and noblemen were asked for financial support, J. Katelė with M. Skorupskis launched an education work. During the Great Uprising in 1863–1864 against Russian power, the spirits of resistance were active in Zarasai. In addition, the promotion of education was impeded by the indifference of noblemen. When Zarasai became one of the epicentres of rebels, the rebel committee established in Zarasai. Jonas Katelė was also a member of the committee. After the suppression of the uprising, he experienced horrific consequences of the rebellion. Gallows were set up in Zarasai, and a prison was full of participants of the uprising. Jonas Katelė attended them, listened for the last confessions and was highly distressed. He was a witness of horrific executions, witnessed the exile of entire villages. Remaining fellows of rebels were persecuted, clothing of mourning we not allowed to wear as well as to publicly pray for the victims and to erect monuments for them. J. Katelė saw the exile of parsons from Obeliai, Dusetos, Anykščiai, Svedasai and M. Skorupskis, which was a good friend of him. Then, Jonas Katelė became a priest in Zarasai. He endeavoured to maintain contact with the ordinary people, to carry out priest duty and to engage as much as possible in educational work. When these horrible events have passed, in 1872, Jonas Katelė was moved to a small and abandoned parish of Panemunėlis. This was a punishment trying to break his rebellious spirit because of his activity in Zarasai. However, it was neither a punishment nor humiliation for Jonas Katelė. Priest Jonas Katelė, having arrived at Panemunėlis parish, firmly went along the Lithuanian road and led the others: established secret Lithuanian schools in villages and controlled them and prepared secret teachers from more talented pupils. He taught children in the parsonage and took care of the girls' education. J. Katelė organised a secret network of Lithuanian book smugglers. He supported publication of Lithuanian textbooks and performances organised by secret Lithuanian Education Society "Žvaigždė". During his parsonage, the first Lithuanian performance "Nepadėjus nėr ko kasti" was created and produced in Panemunėlis parish. The performance has stimulated the further development of theatrical activities. J. Katelė also cooperated and wrote articles in newspapers and magazines "Przglad Katolicki", "Slowo" and "Tygodnik Powszechny". He wrote a biography of Antanas Strazdas (Tygodnik Powszechny,1877, No 30), which was reprinted in "Aušra" (1833, No 8/10). He received permission to build a new church, took care of the building activity and supervised it because he had experience from the pastorate in Zarasai. During his parsonage in Panemunėlis parish, a new Lithuanian centre in Lithuania was set up. Simplicity, hospitality and erudition of superior, educated (knew four languages) priest attracted the enlightened minds of Lithuania: J. Basanavičius, A. Smetona, J. Jablonskis, P. Matulionis, Riomeris, A. Jakštas – Dambrauskas, Maironis, A. Vienažindis, J. Tumas - Vaižgantas. "He was beloved by God and people; the memory about him is blessed," — such beauty inscription is placed on the memorial cross, built for Jonas Katelė, a priest-educator of Panemunėlis parish of Rokiškis deanery.

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