LT EN
VŠĮ "Actio Catholica Patria"
Smalininkų g. 9
LT-44295 Kaunas
info@patria.lt
+370 600 19550

History

The organization began its work in 1988-1989. When the initiative group of Kaunas Medical Institute students started reviving activity of organization called “Patria” which worked through interwar in Lithuania. Initiative students wanted to get ready for doctor’s work which would be based on Christian and humanistic attitude. Young people did not want to be limited with the theoretical knowledge, and practical work undertaken, that’s why they started to do practical activities. They began to take care of lonely old people – visit them at their homes, bring the hot meals and even provide them the medicaments got from charity.

 

Gradually more and more young and active people not only from Medical Institute but from schools and later from various catholic groups became involved to the activities. The initiative was supported by local and foreign sponsors, the first contacts with the youth pastoral services from Dresden-Meissen and Cologne dioceses in Germany were established. In 1991 on April 16th youth organization "Actio Catholica Patria" was officially registered in the Ministry of Justice.

 

Due to the partnerships with organizations in Germany Patria got not only financial support for taking care of lonely elderly people but also became acquainted with the youth activities. Mainly the young volunteers were working with the elderly, so organization started to think about how to motivate and support young people volunteering. When searching the right methods to work with volunteers partners from Germany offered to introduce Patria with the “Youth social Year program” that German Catholic Youth Association (abbreviated - BDKJ) was carrying out and offered to try to implement it in Lithuania. With the help of practical activities, education program and a professional youth worker Andrea Mewaldt started the systematic development of youth policy and youth activities in Lithuania.

The volunteers of “Youth Social Year” took care not only of old people who were supervised by A.C. Patria but also worked in other social institutions in Kaunas. There also were organized seminars for self-development and reflection on experience. For such educational work there was a need of suitable environment, which organization with the help of partners from Germany started to create by itself. In 1994 “Youth house” in Kulautuva started to work, the place could welcome 28 people for a few days; they could cook food and use premises for work in groups there. It was the first institution of informal youth education in Lithuania.

 

In 1993 A.C. Patria responded to the bishop’s S. Tamkevičius invitation to cooperate in establishing The Center of Evangelization, which would coordinate the activities of catholic organizations and movements in Archdiocese of Kaunas. After discussions and first activities attempts, where A.C. Patria member Arūnas Kučikas participated actively, was decided to focus on youth development, strengthen pastoral youth care and catholic youth activities. Eventually the Archdiocesan Youth Centre of Kaunas was established which influenced the appearance of similar centers in other dioceses, and most importantly, this center laid the foundations for systemic approach to youth pastoral care and catholic youth activities.

 

A.C. Patria was one of the first organizations in Kaunas which worked in the social support area, so organization started to look for cooperation with other social organizations and responsible authorities in municipality. When the municipality of Kaunas became involved to the international project of social policy development there appeared an opportunity to implement a cooperation model (seen in Germany) between an umbrella organizations and the government. The professionals of social policy and social work from the country of Kent (United Kingdom) who coordinated the project and presented their experience to the social organizations working in Kaunas, recommended to unite and to create a clear framework of cooperation both among themselves and the municipality. This is how Kaunas Union of Social NGOs (KSNOS) was established in 1996; the president of this organization has become one of the A.C. Patria leaders – Lina Stankevičienė.

 

A.C. Patria invoked partners and consultants form Germany and initiated the similar foundation of framework for cooperation in the area of youth organizations though there was already an attempt to muster youth organizations in Kaunas. In 1996 the union of youth organizations in Kaunas was established “The Round Table”, whose leadership was entrusted for the chairman of A.C. Patria Arūnas Kučikas. The establishment of “The Round Table” in Kaunas gave the impulse for the similar organizations in the other municipalities of Lithuania.

 

People who worked in A.C. Patria were concerned not only with youth and social affairs, things with which organization was working, but also the development of the entire non-governmental sector. In order to encourage the appearance of non-governmental organizations in Kaunas and strengthen various abilities of already existing NGOs, their mutual cooperation and cooperation with municipality and the profit sector in 1998 there was established Kaunas NGOs Support Center (KNOPC), its founders were the umbrella organizations KSNOS and AS which worked in social and youth sector. For several years Kaunas NGOs Support Center was active not only in Kaunas city but also in Kaunas region and at national level.

 

When creating and developing the representation structures of the NGOs in Kaunas city there were continued a provision of social service to people and were organized the programs of informal youth education. The purpose of this program was to enable students to get acquainted with the volunteering activities by transporting hot lunch for lonely, poor elderly people, who were looked after by the social service of A.C. Patria. Every year from 200 to 250 students from different Kaunas schools participated in this program.

 

Due to the lack of funds and difficulties in combining different target groups in one organization, the support of social services for lonely elderly people, was canceled in 2003. Then the organization had left only with one target group - young people. Non-formal youth education was intended to facilitate young people's personal, social and professional skills development. It was chosen to grow these competencies trough volunteering and intercultural learning. For this reason, since 2004 the European Voluntary Service projects are developed and strengthened. It was looked for forms of short-term volunteering to change the program for students “Jump into Wheels” there also was arranging the international partnerships and participating in international youth exchange. For an active, unorganized youth who encounters difficulties volunteering wasn’t an attractive and suitable work form. It was therefore started to look for other forms of youth work. One of the most appropriate ideas was a completely new work with youth form in Lithuania “The open work”. In 2006 after mobilized all of the organizations resources was decided to establish the open youth center “Gates”.

 

In this organization’s stage of development was clearly understood that it’s impossible to ensure the ongoing activities continuity and quality when they are organized and implemented entirely by volunteers. So a lot of efforts were made to create and maintain work places for a professional staff. Switching from volunteers to a paid staff was a big challenge for a whole organization – it had been reviewed the structure of organization: occupations, internal communication, decision making, how the activities are organized.

 

After the expansion of A.C. Patria activities and provided services it became clear that the main goal of organization is not to attract more young people to become members but to organize the activities for them and to provide services which are intended to everyone. Consequently in 2007 on March 15 general meeting decided to reorganize youth organization "Actio Catholica Patria" to the public institution (keeping the same “Actio Catholica Patria” name).