Sculpture for a Malteser volunteer in Ignalina

Ignalina citizens are well acquainted with Maltesers. They remind themselves with various charitable actions and daily help for the poor and needy. Members of the Ignalina Malteser group daily visit dozens of Ignalina and Didžiasalis inhabitants with hot dinner bringing the hope that they will take care of those who, for one or another reason, find themselves in a dire situation.

Order of Malta Relief Organization was founded in Lithuania 25 years ago. Ignalina is one of those three cities (others are Vilnius and Vilkaviškis), where Malteser groups were first established. Vidutė Ektienė works there from the first days. For five years she has led the young Maltesers, and for two decades she has been the head of the group. She is initiative and principled.

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Ignalina Malteser work is known in the Republic, they are followed by newly formed Malteser groups. The Ignalina OMRO group head for significant and consistent work has been honored by the acknowledgement of Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius and received a high Malteser Order award from Biuren for long-term work in this service, for Maltesers education and a responsible attitude towards social problems.

Maltesers never forget those who help them with social action, support their initiatives. Vidutė Ektienė was pleased that two Maltesers – priest Ignas Jakutis and businessman Heinrich Kotman from Biuren, founder of the BHK Company, during Ignalina 150th birthday anniversary celebration were given the name of honourable citizens of Ignalina. Heinrich Kotman even left the money and it was decided to make a sculpture, as thanks to the Maltesers sponsor, as a reminder to Ignalina that there are people in need.

So the thought was. And then the troubles began: to find a tree, to find a sculptor, and finally to find a place for the sculpture.

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During the festival the sculpture was opened. It was a young man with a Malteser sign in the sculpture, as the whole future belongs to young people. All good works need to be started in youth.

Henrikas Šiaudinis, the Mayor of Ignalina District Municipality, during the opening ceremony reminded about the formation of the Ignalina Malteser group, while emphasizing their contribution to the elimination of exclusion. Not all people can be equally happy and equipped, so Maltesers can help the needy.

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In Lithuania this is the first such sign of thanks for the Maltesers. However, it may still be remembered that the last year, during the Maltesers celebration of 25th anniversary of their existence, sculptor Saulius Lampickas created the sculpture of St.Gabrielius, which arose on the hill of the Angels in Trakai. (Archangel Gabriel symbolizes help for his confident and volunteering – the values that the world’s oldest humanitarian aid organization has been providing throughout the world for over 960 years).

Later, praying the master Teofilius Patiejūnas, somebody had the idea of “baptizing” Malteser volunteer. Someone suggested that it be called Theophilus (in honor of the sculptor), some Jonah (since the event took place on the eve of Jonah’s). Archbishop Theophilus Matulionis has been remembered there also …

Most likely, it will be called Theophilus, although in no book that name has been written yet.

Vida Žukauskaitė

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