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National organization to honor Marianist with Friend of Lithuania Award

By Maureen Schlangen, E-scholarship and communications manager

During the 104th annual convention of the Knights of Lithuania July 29, the nationwide organization will present its prestigious Friend of Lithuania Award to Father Johann Roten, S.M., director of research and special projects in the University of Dayton’s Marian Library.

The award honors a person of non-Lithuanian heritage who has supported the traditions, spirituality and culture of the Lithuanian community in the United States, said Norma Petkus, records coordinator of the Knights of Lithuania.

Roten received an introduction to the Dayton-area Lithuanian community in 1993, when he began saying Sunday Mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church, an ethnic Lithuanian parish on Leo Street in Old North Dayton. He has assisted Holy Cross and the parishes of Old North Dayton ever since.

“Over the years, he became a very good friend and a pastor of the Lithuanian community,” Petkus said.

Michael Petkus, president of Council 96 in Dayton, which is hosting the 2017 convention in Fairborn, Ohio, said Roten gives informative homilies incorporating Lithuanian religious figures such as St. Casimir, patron of Lithuania, and Our Lady of Siluva, whose 1608 apparitions are a subject of great devotion for many Lithuanian Catholics. In service to the Knights of Lithuania, Roten has hosted delegates and members of the Mid-Central District (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania) and routinely gives presentations on religious and historical subjects.

And, when the organization’s national archives and records needed relocation from a member’s damp basement in Connecticut, Roten brought the local council’s attention to the U.S. Catholic Special Collection at the University of Dayton, where the more than 100 years’ worth of Knights of Lithuania records and memorabilia are now available to researchers of U.S. Catholic history and culture. A guide to the collection summarizes its contents.

University Libraries Dean Kathleen Webb said the archive is another outstanding addition to the U.S. Catholic Special Collection, whose goal is to preserve records and artifacts of the Catholic experience in the United States.

“As a Catholic, Marianist research institution, we work to create and preserve collections that both support our academic programs and reflect the U.S. Catholic experience while also promoting the study and service of the Blessed Virgin Mother through the Marian Library and the International Marian Research Institute,” Webb said. “This collection helps us to do all of these things. We’re proud to have been entrusted to house this important cultural and religious asset.”

Note: The Knights of Lithuania records do not circulate, but they are available for view in the reading room of the U.S. Catholic Special Collection, open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment. To schedule an appointment or for information, contact Stephanie Shreffler, Collections Librarian and Archivist for the U.S. Catholic Special Collection, at 937-229-4262 or 
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