At eleven o'clock on the morning of March 7, 1974, Canon Petras Rauda died at Svėdasai. He had been born in 1894 in Radviliškis. The father of the late priest had been a booksmuggler (During the Czarist interdict against Lithuanian literature, 1864-1904 —Transl. Note), and he himself had occasion to "take tutoring" (Studying Lithuanian clandestinely — Trans. Note).
Becoming a priest in 1917, he performed his duties faithfully all his life. As an assistant pastor in Joniškis, he contributed much to the birth of the Republic of Lithuania. For many years, he served as a chaplain at various places in Lithuania. Serving as pastor in Utena, he saved the lives of several citizens of Jewish nationality. In 1944 Bishop Kazimieras Paltarokas elevated him to the position of Honorary Canon and appointed him vicerector of the Theological Seminary of Kaunas.
During the post-war years he was harassed by security organs and sentenced to eight years in prison, because knowing of the memorandum directed abroad, prepared by P. Klimas, Mrs. Lastienė, and others, he had not informed the security people.
Canon Rauda was imprisoned in camps at Turinsk, Okunev, and Molotovsk. In Kaunas security prison, Canon Rauda happened to be confined with Attorney Toliušis, leader of the Populist Party, and with "Vanagas"—"The Hawk", leader of a partisan unit. The intelligence and placidity of the Canon, together with the heroic suffering and death of "Vanagas" led Toliušis to God and the Church. Upon his return from the camp, Toliušis used to say: "Seeing the church steeples, one wants to weep—Lithuania still lives!"
In 1957, Canon Rauda was arrested again, for keeping a diary in which he described the interrogations during his first imprisonment, and life in the camps. He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. Confined in the camps of Mordovia, Canon Rauda made the acquaintance of the Primate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Metropolitan Slipij (now a Cardinal and a member of the Vatican Academy), and became fast friends with him.
After five years, broken in health, Canon Rauda returned to Lithuania. In 1965, completely blind, he nevertheless continued his priestly work in Svėdasai. During his final illness, he said that he was offering his final sufferings for the Diocese of Panevėžys. In response to one priest who asked him what he would like to say to priests, he replied:
"That all priests should be as dutiful as Canon Bronius Antanaitis."
Canon Rauda knew six foreign languages. In his homeland and in the camp he was surrounded by the youth and the intelligentsia. Throughout his life he rejoiced over priests who performed their duties faithfully and prayed for those who betrayed the Church.
Canon Rauda prepared Professor Jurgutis for death, and author Vienuolis-Žukauskas went to him to confession on two occasions. The nation has lost a noble Lithuanian, and the Church—a loyal defender and a man of sacrifice. A great light has gone out—a light which enkindled hundreds of smaller lights.
The inhabitants of Svėdasai came in great numbers to the church to pray for the soul of the beloved Canon. Preachers described well the life, work, and suffering of the deceased.
It had been planned to bury him on Sunday, but the Executive Committee of the Utena District would not allow it, for fear of a massive religious demonstration which might "negatively" influence the school children. The local government of Utena would not allow participants in the funeral to prepare lunch in the dining room. Anykščiai and Utena would not allow taxi-cabs to take people from Svėdasai to Utena. The communal farms of the Anykščiai, Kupiškis, Rokiškis, and Utena Districts were forbidden to allow trucks for the funeral.
Anykščiai let a car be rented only to transport the casket. What surprising solicitude on the part of the atheists, not to forget a deceased priest!
A car to carry the flowers was obtained from the seminary. Forty private automobiles accompanied the remains of Canon Rauda from Svėdasai to Utena. The streets everywhere were lined with people. Government officials who assiduously observed the funeral procession were able to see how the people of Lithuania can honor their spiritual leaders.
Participating in the funeral were Bishop Romualdas Krikščiūnas, Bishop Julius Steponavičius, Bishop Liudvikas Povilonis and 180 priests.http://lkbkronika.lt/index.php/en/issue-no-10/553-death-of-canon-petras-rauda.html
Canon Rauda, a true priest of resistance.