Category Archives: Culture

THE OPEN DOOR (VP Column – April 2020 issue of the Naród Polski)

The topic on everyone’s mind is the Coronavirus pandemic. Everywhere you turn, it’s there – on the television, on the radio, even on billboards as you are driving on the expressway! It is the new reality for now! Sanitizer, washing your hands, not touching your face… these are no longer being taken for granted. Staying healthy carries the same message it always has – eat well, get adequate sleep, keep hydrated, exercise and don’t stress! There’s no magic pill (yet), but what there is, is criticism of the government for being overly cautious, criticism for not implementing this caution sooner – hopefully there won’t be criticism that it was too little, too late. So what have we learned from this short period of time? That we are human – vulnerable, easily bored, not easily amused, and scared. We turn to our public officials for answers, but don’t heed their warnings until they are commands. We turn to God for hope and yet we do not heed the outcome – time heals all wounds and time will heal this crisis, hopefully with less casualties because we adhered to the warnings and took precautions. So if stocking up on food and household necessities makes you feel safe, go for it! Just be smart about it.

With this crisis, comes much disappointment – cancellations of celebrations and festive gatherings including the 83rd PRCUA National Bowling Tournament in Wyandotte, MI (April 17-19). My heart goes out to all the schools regarding dance recitals and other related events, especially Gwiazda, Southwest Center of Polish Song and Dance and Zajączek who were to celebrate their milestone anniversaries, 60th, 35th and 15th respectively. No doubt these will be rescheduled, but it is disappointing nonetheless. With states warning of an eight week “shut down,” the only sure thing for April is that Easter will be celebrated on Sunday, April 12th. Hopefully, our Święconka baskets will be able to be blessed by a priest but in the event the churches continue to be closed, my parents left me a bottle of Holy Water from the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, so our family is covered and hopefully, we will be able to gather together with our families to break bread and rejoice in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Wishing you a happy and holy Easter!

The saying “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb” refers to the fickle weather pattern, but this year, it’s not the weather that’s too blame, but the pandemic. The month began on a personal note with a unicorn birthday party for our four year old granddaughter. Happy Golden Birthday, Ariana! Sto lat! Sto lat! Niech żyje, żyje nam!   

The official start of March began with a very well attended Pulaski Day Celebration hosted by the Polish Museum of America and the PRCUA. As it is an election year, there were more politicians than usual but the standing room only capacity of the Great Hall of the museum, filled with many Polonian leaders and patrons, was impressive. The program was emceed by the Presidents of the PRCUA and PMA, with speeches by many illustrious guests including the current Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton; Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs; from Cook County, Treasurer Maria Pappas and Clerk Dorothy Brown; Illinois Appellate Court Judge Aurelia Pucinski; and many others. The festivities commenced with a breakfast buffet in the Boardroom of the PRCUA, where invited guests partook of Polish hospitality. Joining the PRCUA officers in laying the wreath at the Pulaski painting were the officers of the PNA: President Frank Spula and Secretary General Alicja Kuklinska. Later that evening, accompanied by their spouses (and Natalie and Alex Bastrzyk), the three PRCUA officers attended the Pulaski evening banquet hosted by Polish American Congress-IL, with Mirosław Niedziński at the helm. One of the highlights of the evening was a coloring contest sponsored by the Polish American Foundation and the PAC-IL, and one of the winners was our own Natalia Bastrzyk. Congratulations, Natalko!

Starting on March 5, the three PRCUA officers began a five-day, three-city trip – first to the AQS Insurance Symposium Investment in Scottsdale, Arizona, hosted by Larry White; then to the 86th PRCUA National Basketball Tournament in Muskegon, Michigan, hosted by PRCUA St. Michael Society #78 (Thank you, President Frank Swiatek and Chairman Drew Dodge; congratulations to winners – Men’s: St. Stan’s Society #718 Family 1 and Men’s over 50: St. Stan’s 718 Blue Team); and the “Flowers are Blooming Spring Fashion Show,” an annual event hosted by the Adult Culture Group of PRCUA (Bravo to Chairlady and choreographer Elizabeth Dynowski; all the lovely models and the Dancers of the ACG, who made their dancing debut). Details from the last two events will be in separate articles in upcoming issues of the Naród Polski.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank President Robaczewski and Secretary-Treasurer Bastrzyk for their lovely surprise acknowledging the Medal that I received from the National Education Commission during the Board of Directors meeting on Friday, March 13. There was a champagne toast from the President and a lovely bouquet of flowers from our Secretary-Treasurer, the directors and staff. Again, it is an honor and a privilege to be so recognized. 

The PRCUA would like to extend condolences to past National Director Richard Turkiewicz and his family on the sudden passing of his wife, Mary Agnes Turkiewicz, on March 7. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she and the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.  

Polish version of the article available in the April edition of Naród Polski

Pulaski Day Celebration at the Polish Museum of America
With grandchildren
Birthday Girl Ariana
L-r: Mateusz Bomba, James Robaczewski, Drew Dodge, Frank Swiatek, Micheline Jaminski, Agnes Bastrzyk
Basketball Champs
Dancers of the Adult Culture Group
At the 2020 Spring Fashion Show: Micheline Jaminski with her husband Richard Jaminski and the ladies from Mokena, IL
L-r: Fashion Show Chair Liz Dynowski, Mirek Cislo, Micheline Jaminski
Thank you for the flowers Agnes and Jim
L-r: Larry White, Agnes Bastrzyk, Colleen Bonkowski, James Robaczewski, Lou Perfetto, Tom Jesionowski, Mirek Cislo and Micheline Jaminski in Scottsdale, AZ

35th Anniversary of the Southwest Center of Polish Song and Dance (SWCPD) postponed

Due to the coronavirus situation, the PRCUA Southwest Center of Polish Song and Dance 35th Anniversary concert has been postponed. We will inform you as soon as we know a new date of the event!

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The history of the Southwest Center of Polish Dancing (SWCPSD) of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America begins in 1985 with the merger of three existing PRCUA Dance Schools:

· PRCUA Five Holy Martyrs Youth Dancers was organized and opened on October 20, 1956.  At that time, Stella Wisniewski was PRCUA Vice President, Helen Tadda was District 8 Director, Apolonia Owczarek was School Director and Emily Mucha was Dance Instructor.  In 1966, Virginia Sergeant became School Director and continued for 16 years until she became District 8 Director, followed by Barbara Frankowicz and Barbara Sergeant (Rustik).  Dance Instructors included: Veronica Mazur, Ricky and Lorrie Wisniewski, and Nancy Latuszek-Golemo assisted by Veronica Brzezniak (Crouchelli).

· PRCUA Chopin Dancers, which was organized in 1974 by Martha Kwiatt at St. Turibius parish. At that time, Stella Nowak was PRCUA Vice President and Regina Ocwieja was District 8 Director.  Mrs. Kwiatt was School Director until she became District 8 Director. She was succeeded by Phyllis Wasacz, Jackie Pawlowski, Janice Judeh and resumed her position at the time of the merger.  Dance Instructors included: Zena Kaminski, Gertrude Weber, Misia Jaminski, Jeanine Binkowski (Leonhard), Janice Rejman (Adam) and Nancy Latuszek-Golemo who was assisted by Veronica Brzezniak (Crouchelli) and Peter Hinch.

· PRCUA Pani Nowak Polish Dancing School, which was organized in 1974 by Jane Peckwas at St. Daniel the Prophet Parish.  Claudia Kondersack was the first School Director.  Two years later, Patricia Lochen became the School Director and continued until the merger.  Dance Instructors included Ola Siemaszko, Jeanine Binkowski (Leonhard), Janice Rejman (Adam) and Misia Jaminski (who changed the name of the school to “Mlody Lud Dancers”) assisted by Barbara Wargacki (Skrzypiec).  Conversational Polish classes were conducted by Jean Binkowski for a time.

In the Spring of 1985, the Women’s Department of the PRCUA, under the guidance and leadership of Vice President, Regina Ocwieja, sponsored the “PRCUA Youth Gala”.  Misia Jaminski was the Program Coordinator.  In preparation for this concert, Pani Misia traveled to Poland.  It was in Lublin, Poland, that inspired by the Polish Folk Dance and Song Ensemble “Land of Lublin”, she came upon the idea to unify the children dancing schools from the south side of Chicago under one roof.  A very popular Polish Folk Dance Choreographer, Ignacy Wachowiak, was the Artistic Director of the “Land of Lublin” group, which consisted of 600 dancers – children and adults.  Pani Misia introduced the concept to Mrs. Ocwieja whose support was matched by the cooperation of then District 8 Director, Virginia Sergeant, and the School Directors of FHM Youth Dancers, Chopin Dancers and Mlody Lud Dancers.  In the summer of 1985, the idea was put to the test for one year.  All the schools pooled together their assets – namely, costumes and funds.  His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop Alfred L. Abramowicz, permitted SWCPSD to use the facilities at Five Holy Martyrs Parish.  Mrs. Frankowicz and Mrs. Lochen became the School Directors of SWCPSD with support from Mrs. Kwiatt and Ms. Sergeant (Rustik). Pani Misia became the Artistic Director and Choreographer.  Nancy Golemo continued as Dance Instructor.  Peter Hinch was the Singing as well as Dance Instructor.  Assisting them were Barbara Wargacki (Skrzypiec), Gregory Skrzypiec, Veronica Brzezniak (Crouchelli), Elizabeth Wargacki (Cislo) and Geniene Lochen (Uram).  SWCPSD passed the test of the first year with a two-hour concert entitled “Na Wesolo, Na Ludowo” held on April 27, 1986 at Morton East High School in Cicero.

And that’s how the Southwest Center of Polish Dancing of PRCUA began.  Each group of children – KrasnoLUDki (preschoolers), LUDziki, Maly LUDek, Mlody LUDek, LUDki, LUDkowie, Wesole LUDki, Wesoly LUDek – learn ballet and dance basics, singing and Polish folk dances. The training received at SWCPSD has qualified many dancers to join the international ambassadors of PRCUA, the “WESOLY LUD” Polish Folk Dance Company, and in some cases, become Dance Instructors and certified Choreographers.

The artistic direction at SWCPSD prides itself on its carried program which, through the years, included dance and song suites from many regions in Poland including Beskid, Cieszyn, Eastern Krakow, Kaszuby, Kielce, Krakow, Leczyce, Lowicz, Lublin, Nowy Sacz, Orawa, Podlasie, Przeworsk, Pszczyna, Rzeszow, Upper Silesia, Warmia, Wielkopolska, Zywiec City, and Zywiec Mountain; as well as the National dances—Polonaise, Mazur, Kujawiak, Oberek and Krakowiak; Polish traditions such as “Gaik i Kogucik”, “Szopka Krakowska”, etc.; in addition to more contemporary selections such as “Polka Jazzowa”; the Chicago Polka, Square Dance (the national dance of the USA), the Charleston Polka, etc.

The success of SWCPSD is largely due to the people who are devoted to it, especially the current (2019-2020) staff:

Anna Kraszewski-Winkler, Manager/School Director (since 2011)

Misia Jaminski,  Founder/past Artistic Director/Choreographer

Richard Jaminski, Artistic Director/Choreographer/Musician/Recording Engineer

Danielle Lech-Kroplewski, Dance Instructor

Camilla Steczek, Dance Instructor

Michael Dziadkowiec, Choreographer/Dance Instructor

Sylvia Kupiec, Dance Instructor

Weronika Niedzielski, Dance Instructor

Ania Cieplucha, Assistant Dance Instructor

Izabella Pikul, Assistant Dance Instructor

Mitch Gajda, volunteer Assistant Dance Instructor

Dominika Gornikowski, volunteer Assistant Dance Instructor

Arthur Rykala, volunteer Assistant Dance Instructor

Andrew Handzel, volunteer Assistant Dance Instructor

Throughout the past thirty-five years, there have been many others who shared their administrative or artistic talents with the children of SWCPSD.  Other than those previously mentioned, they include:  School Directors: Patricia Lochen (1985-1999), Krystyna Lech (1999-2011), Barbara Frankowicz, Elzbieta Brzezniak, Janina Wargacki and Maria Wandas;

Stage Director: Monica Pazdziora (Reiser);

Administrative Assistants: Jadzia Rafalo, Barbara Krynski, Alice Czepiel, and Jolanta Stanek;

Instructors: Nancy Latuszek-Golemo, Peter Hinch, Basia Rozwadowski (Eckert), Jadzia Koszalka, Alina Bencik (Pearson), Nicole Bencik (Turkiewicz), Renee Bober (Kroplewski), Robert Kroplewski, Jola Lech, Monica Pazdziora, Elizabeth Sliwa (Tomala), Virginia Gavaghan (Stekala), Kalina Dziadkowiec,(Gorczyca), Andrew Lech, Anna Kraszewski (Winkler), Aleksa Herdzik (Haun). 

Dance Assistants: Angelika Bugajski, Danielle Crouchelli, Krysia Frankowicz (Burd), Bart Guziak, Ted Konopacki, Dorothy Krynski (Fabbi), Nathalie Pietura (Skowyra), Elizabeth Poznanski, Ricky Skowyra, Gabriela Szewczyk, Basia Wilk, Kasia Avila, Megan Richardson, Evelina Pabijanski, Kasia Bialas, Stephanie Anhalt, Sylvia Kupiec and Kacper Kaczmarczyk,

Vocal Instructor: Witold Socha (September 2008-May 2009).  Annette Zurawski-Nowakowski (2010-2015)

SWCPSD annually presents Christmas Programs and Spring Recitals where the dancers show the fruits of their labor to their parents and guests.  In addition to these performances, SWCPSD participated in the 1989 PRCUA Gala of Polish Traditions, performed at the Museum of Science and Industry, Polish Museum of America, and on television programs such as the Bob Lewandowski Show.  SWCPSD performed for many government officials including the Mayor of Chicago and the Governor of State of Illinois.   SWCPSD participated in Polish Folk Dance Festivals in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan as well as the International Festival in Kansas City, Kansas.  It received an award for professionalism from the Polish Highlanders Association at its Polish School Competition for its rendition of the “Krakowska Szopka”.  Wesoly Ludek made its international debut at the V International Festival of Children’s Polish Folk Dance Ensembles in Iwonicz Zdroj and performing also in Dabrowa Tarnowska in 2003; participated at the VI (2006), VII (2009), IX (2015), and X (2018) Children’s Festival in Iwonicz Zdroj, as well as performing in cities throughout Poland such as, Rzeszow, Krosno, Chorkowka, Polanczyk, Rymanow Zdroj, Konskie, and Wielopole, joined by Wesole Ludki in 2009.  For 27 years, SWCPSD held its classes on Saturdays at Five Holy Martyrs Parish in Chicago.  In September of 2000, a second branch was organized at St. Albert the Great Parish in Burbank, IL later relocated in September of 2003 to St. Joseph Parish in Summit, Illinois; in 2008-2009 to the Willow Springs School, Willow Springs, IL; and in 2009, returned to St. Albert the Great Parish in Burbank until 2014. In 2012, SWCPSD consolidated the Thursday and Saturday classes to Thursdays only at St. Albert the Great, acknowledging the support of Five Holy Martyrs Parish for so many years.  Since 2015, SWCPSD’s classes are held at Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park, Il.   In 2018, SWCPSD updated its name to Southwest Center of Polish Song and Dance, and, as a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, gratefully acknowledges the sustaining contributions of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America.  On March 22, 2020, the school will be celebrating its 35th Anniversary!

Cleveland Debutante and Cavalier Crystal Presentation Ball

l-r: D-5 Director Tom Jesionowski, Rev. Eric Orzech, Catherine Katernich, Mihalina Dziadyniak, PRCUA President James Robaczewski, co-chairmen Aundrea Cika-Heschmeyer and PRCUA D-5 Director Mitchell Bienia, Millie Heschmeyer, Anastazja Golab, Michał Golab,
committee member Monika Sochecki

We invite you to read D-5 Director Mitchell Bienia’s article about a beautiful evening celebrating Polish American culture in Cleveland. Click here

Wesoły Lud 43rd Anniversary

On Saturday, January 18th, 2020 Wesoły Lud Polish Folk Dance Company of P.R.C.U.A. celebrated its 43rd Anniversary and milestone anniversaries of the following dancers: Camilla Steczek and Sylvia Kupiec (10 years); Ania Cieplucha, Carolina Kukulski, Weronika Niedzielski, Alexander Labudzki (5 years). A big thank you to former dancers Robert Kroplewski and Kacper Szumiec for assisting in making Camilla and Sylvia’s special anniversaries more special as well as Kuba Stypula and Mitch Gajda for the extra effort in adding to Carolina and Weronika’s solos. Ania and Alex joined their talents for their Mazur solo. The artistic genius of Richard Jaminski, Artistic Director and Choreographer, assisted by Michael Dziadkowiec prepared a wonderful program which was further adorned by group performances by both representations. Emcees of the evening included Ania Kraszewski-Winkler and Joanna Niedzielski the latter who also organized the sweet table with the delicacies provided by parents. The 50+ member group presented dances from Rzeszow, Lubusk, Gorny Slask and the infamous Killer Bee Polka in addition to the Kujawiak, Warszawska, Mazur, Jive and Oberek solos. The anniversary celebration was a part of the 2020 Wesoły Lud Masquerade Ball that took place at the Camelot Banquets in Hickory Hills, IL. The event gathered over 400 guests. Thank you for a wonderful evening!

Start the Carnival Season 2020 with PRCUA’s “Wesoły Lud”

You are cordially invited to the 2020 PRCUA Wesoły Lud Winter Masquerade Ball! The event will be held on January 18, 2020, at the Camelot Banquets, 8624 W. 95th St. in Hickory Hills, IL.  Entrance at 7:00 pm, dinner at 7:30 pm. For additional information, please contact Camilla Steczek at 708-698-7474 or csteczek@gmail.com.

The mission of the Wesoły Lud Polish Folk Dance Company, Inc. is to perpetuate, educate and validate the importance of the beautiful folk dance and song culture of Poland to present and future generations.

Moniuszko Manor featured on the PRCUA Christmas Card

On the 200th anniversary of his birth, we celebrate the “Year of Stanisław Moniuszko,” the renowned Polish 19th century Romantic era composer known as the father of Polish opera.

This year’s PRCUA Christmas card depicts Ubiel Manor in modern-day Belorus, the Moniuszko family home where Stanisław was born, the theme of October’s PRCUA Polish American Heritage Month coloring contest.

The winning contest entries can be viewed on PRCUA.org.

Original card artwork was created by Chicago artist Patrycja Stępniak, owner of “PatriciaArtStudio.”

Congrats to the 2019 PRCUA Coloring Contest winners!

The PRCUA Fraternal Department received almost 300 entries for its 2019 Polish American Heritage Month Coloring Contest. This was a record number of entries submitted for the contest, which was open to all members from ages 3 to 18 years. Entries were divided into five age categories. Three winners in six age categories were selected by PRCUA Home Office employees on Tuesday, November 19.The year 2019 has been declared the “Year of Moniuszko,” celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Stanisław Moniuszko and the 2019 contest pictures commemorated this special occasion. The winners of the 2019 coloring contest are:

Invitation for the 2019 PRCUA Opłatek.

The Polish Roman Catholic Union of America cordially invites you, your family and friends to attend its annual “Opłatek”, hosted this year by PRCUA District 7.

The event will take place on December 7, 2019 at 7 pm in the Great Hall of the Polish Museum of America ( 984 N.Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL).

Join us for the Wigilia style dinner, Christmas caroling, meeting with Santa and more!

Donation: Adults $35, Children 12 and under $17.50. Cash Bar.

For reservations or more information please contact District 7 Directors: Ewa Cholewiński (224.622.1517) or Anna Krysiński ( 847.529.2555) or email: prcuadistrict7@gmail.com.

SWCPD 34th Annual Recital

Congratulations to the Southwest Center of Polish Song and Dance on its 34th Annual Recital!

On Sunday, April 28, dancers from all age groups presented their talents on stage at Mother McAuley High School in Chicago. Wesoły Lud Polish Folk Dance Company performed as a special guest of the Center. In this long-standing tradition, young artists celebrated the end of the school year with this special performance, which gives them an opportunity to showcase their choreographic achievements and our beautiful Polish folklore. The audience greatly enjoyed and cheered on Mały Ludek, Wesoły Ludek, Ludziki, Krasnoludki, Młody Ludek, Wesoły Lud I and II. The program included dances and folk songs from Lublin, Nowy Sącz, Śląsk, Kaszuby, Górny Sląsk, Kurpie, Beskid, Kraków, Stara Warszawa as well as a performance of the American-style Polka. The big finale was the song “Niech Żyją Wakacje” (“Long Live Vacation!”) performed by all of the groups. During the recital, the Center also acknowledged its 5 and 10- year members.

Special thanks to: Anna Kraszewski-Winkler – Manager and School Director; Richard Jaminski – Artistic Director and Choreographer; all the dance instructors: Richard Jaminski, Michael Dziadkowiec, Danielle Kroplewski, Rene Kroplewski, Sylvia Kupiec and Camilla Steczek; and their assistants: Weronika Niedzielski, Kacper Kaczmarczyk and Ania Cieplucha.

Dancing in the Southwest Center of Polish Song and Dance is one of the many membership benefits offered by PRCUA. Call us to become a member and to request information about signing up to any of our dance groups.