Biography of Father Antanas (Avgustinas) Dirvelé, OFM

Born April 3, 1901, in Juodupenai, Shakiai district. Finished the four-year pro-gymnasium. Entered the Order of St. Francis and made his perpetual vows under the name “Avgustinas.” In 1923 he was studying at the seminary in Kaunas; from 1924 he was at the Franciscan seminary in Germany. He completed his theology course in Breslau and was ordained July 15, 1928. From 1928 he was a preacher at a parish in Kaunas; in 1929 he went to the United States to raise money for the construction of a Franciscan high school; in 1930 he returned to Kaunas. He became the head of the monastery in Kretinga and built St. Anthony Boys’ High School, with dormitories; in 1932 he became its director. In 1934 he set up a printing press where he printed various Catholic publications. From 1936 he was the Franciscan Provincial for Lithuania; in 1939 he was transferred to the parish in Pajuris, where he became vicar of the monastery and a preacher. In 1940 he returned to the monastery in Kretinga and was there at the time of the Soviet occupation. Arrested in 1940 on charges of an “attempt to illegally cross the USSR border.” March 8, 1941 – sentenced to eight years in corrective labor camp [Special Board, NKVD]. Sent to Pechorlag, Komi ASSR – from which he escaped. The NKVD initiated a nationwide search that it did not close until 1960. Nothing is known about the fate of Fr. Avgustinas.Translator’s Note: Other sources state he died in 1948 in Irkutsk. Source: Den’ skorbi…; Lietuvos aidas, 1998, No. 30; Pokajanie, p. 387
Variant Names:
Dirvelé, Antanas (Avgustinas)
Juodupenai, Shakiai oblast (Lithuania); Kaunas (Lithuania); Breslau (Germany); United States; Kretinga (Lithuania)
male; clergy and religious; fate unknown