Judita From Lithuania
About Judita From Lithuania
LCI 1995-1996 | Mother and Family Center Director
Judita (Bagdonaite) Bernatoniene (LCI 1995-1996) first came to LCI recommended by her bishop, as an outstanding young leader from a Catholic family who had withstood the persecutions of the Soviet era: “My grandmother and my mother, when she was 3 days old, were sent to Siberia and she came back to Lithuania when she was 10 years old,” says Judita. She continues, “My parents were not in as great danger as others, but after religious freedom was allowed, my parents actively joined in helping Bishop J. Matulaitis to build pastoral centers in Kaišiadorys diocese.”
In 1995, five years after the re-establishment of Lithuanian independence, the Bishop recommended Judita for studies at LCI. At LCI, she excelled at English, learned basic theology, and led the student choir in her free time. After completing her year at LCI, she continued her studies at the International Theological Institute, where she gained a master’s degree in theology. Then Judita returned to her hometown, Kaisiadorys, with her husband, Aidas, who had also completed a master’s degree in theology. They began working for their bishop by building up the diocesan Family Center. Judita and Aidas worked on collaborative projects for catechists and developed marriage preparation programs for young couples. This remains an urgent need in Lithuania, which has one of the highest divorce rates in Europe. Most couples want to be married in the Church, where they can have a nice ceremony, but they don’t have a good grasp of Church teaching on marriage and family. That is why Judita and Aidas, with their newly gained theological knowledge, experience of living among other Christian families at the Kartause, and just beginning their own family, were perfectly suited for the job and happy to serve the Church. “The example of the families living their faith in daily life was a very strong and important example for building my family life and organizing a family community at the Family Center,” explains Judita.
Now Judita and Aidas have four children, and continue their work with couples, families, retreats, andsummer camps, rebuilding the Church stone by stone.