Vaclovas Gutauskas, SJ, in his office on wheels. Photograph by Algimantas Kezys.
Since 1976, I have been collecting my family, and the Plioplys surname, histories. My father’s death in 1974 gave me the impetus to start this process. I had not had an opportunity of learning of his experiences in war-torn Lithuania, life in emigrant camps in Germany, in Canadian high arctic gold mines, and establishing a family in Toronto. I felt a tremendous loss. The only way to fill this void was to collect as much information as possible could prior to other family members passing away, which has already taken place.
A year ago I completed this project with the publication of the 2-volume, Plioplys: The History. There was a tremendous amount of important information about family relatives that I was able to discover, all of which was previously unknown. I will not mention any of that here, except for one newly uncovered fact: my paternal uncle, Father Vaclovas Gutauskas (1913-2003), a Lithuanian Jesuit priest, was responsible for raising all of the funds to build the Lithuanian Youth Center, the adjoining chapel, and the Jesuit monastery in Chicago. This complex of buildings is one of the greatest accomplishments of the Lithuanian emigrant community—all due to the efforts of this one person, my uncle.
I organized an exhibit of photographs taken by Albinas Elskus and Algimantas Kezys to honor Gutauskas. The exhibit took place at the Lithuanian Youth Center, which Gutauskas built, and was up from November 2017, through January 2018.
At the opening of the exhibit, in attendance were Lithuania’s ambassador to the US, Lithuania’s Consul General to Chicago, an elected member of Lithuania’s parliament, amongst many others.
This exhibit is now touring Lithuania. An opening took place at the Valdas Adamkus Presidential Library, Vytautas Magnus University, in Kaunas, Lithuania, on January 31, 2018. Already we have plans for this show to travel to the city of Marijampole and to the Martynas Mazvydas Library in Vilnius. Many other additional locations are foreseen.
My explanation of the background of this exhibit can be viewed on a YouTube video by clicking here. My presentation is in Lithuanian.