The Rev. Anthony S. Dranginis, the pastor of St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church who was long active in Baltimore's Lithuanian community, died Tuesday at Stella Maris Hospice, which he entered with terminal cancer Aug. 23. He was 73.
A Mass of Christian burial for Father Tony, as he was widely known in the Catholic archdiocese, was being offered today at the church, 114 W. Saratoga St.
Archbishop William H. Keeler will celebrate the Mass today in Baltimore. A second Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Sacred Heart Church in New Philadelphia.
He had been a priest of the Lithuanian parish since his ordination in 1956, first as an associate pastor for 19 years, then as co-pastor and administrator, and finally as pastor since 1979. The promoter of the parish's popular Miraculous Medal novenas was a familiar figure -- with his Marine haircut -- walking in the downtown area near the church.
Of Lithuanian descent, the Marine Corps veteran of World War II was chaplain of both the Lithuanian Post of the American Legion and its statewide organization.
He settled in Baltimore in 1946 after his discharge from the Marine Corps at the Bainbridge Naval Training Station in Port Deposit.
He became active in Baltimore's Lithuanian community while working in factories in the area. He assisted Lithuanian refugees and, with his baritone singing voice, was in the cast of productions at both St. Alphonsus and the Lithuanian Hall on Hollins Street. He also sang with the Daina Chorus and helped start the Men's Daina Chorus.
Born in Port Carbon, Pa., he attended elementary schools at Cumbola and New Philadelphia in Pennsylvania's hard coal country. He then attended Marianapolis High School and Marianapolis College in Thompson, Conn., graduating from the latter in 1939.
Although prevented by World War II from attending the University of Kaunas in Lithuania under a scholarship, he studied international law at Clark College in Worcester, Mass., before joining the Marine Corps. He served in the Pacific at Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa before joining the occupation forces in Japan in 1945.
Deciding to study for the priesthood at the age of 32, he attended Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg in preparation for his ordination.
NB His survivors include a brother, Vincent Dranginis of Cumbola.