Welcome to the “most wonderful time of the year!” Although it seems that each month has its own special events, the month of December seems to gather all the best of the previous 11 months, wrap it up with colorful memories and gift us happiness and cheer to last us through the next year! The birth of the Baby Jesus not only places Christmas front and center, but seasons it with the hope of a healthier, joyful and happier tomorrow.
Decorating for the Christmas season in our house begins with a gift of a fresh evergreen wreath for our front door. It’s a “tradition” from my forever friend, Gosia Niemiec. Every time the front door opens, the scent of fresh pine fills the air and is a gentle reminder to slow down, enjoy the season and be in the moment. The reason for the season is truly powerful and contagious in the best way possible. Let’s keep the feeling in our hearts every day of the coming year. PHOTO #1
It seems that the “new normal” is moving right-a-long and assuming its place with the many events planned and those realized. Take November, for example, from the get-go it “served” another dynamic PRCUA Volleyball Tournament, this year hosted by District 8 with its National Directors, Mirek Cislo and Liz Dynowski, at the helm. 64 players and 15 teams from Michigan, North Carolina and Illinois came “stressed, blessed and volleyball obsessed.” Romeoville, Illinois was the place to be on November 5-6, 2021. Check out the details and photos of the teams and champions on p.10-11. I want to thank Deann Kujawski from St. Rita’s Society for suggesting PRCUA Volleyball Tournaments in 2015, organizing the first one and attending all since. PHOTO #2 & 3
Meanwhile in Westland, Michigan, the PRCUA Tatry Dancers (Gail Esker, School Director; Karen Lubiarz, Dance Instructor) held their Graduate Presentation Ball honoring 2021 and 2022 Graduates: Elise Lubiarz, Erin Delcotto, Leah Esker and Joseph O’Neill. National Director (D-10) Colleen Bonkowski attended the event on behalf of the Executive Officers of the PRCUA. Also attending were past PRCUA Presidents Wallace M. Ozog and Joseph A. Drobot Jr. with their lovely spouses. Congratulates to the Graduates and wishing you a successful future! PHOTO #4
On November 7, while President Robaczewski attended the Polish American Congress – Wisconsin Division celebration of POLISH INDEPENDENCE DAY/VETERANS DAY LUNCHEON at the Polish Center of Wisconsin, in Franklin, Wisconsin, Secretary-Treasurer Agnieszka Bastrzyk led the PRCUA athletes at the Polish Independence 10K/5K Run/Walk 2021 at Montrose Harbor in Chicago, Illinois. PHOTO #5
The 2021 PRCUA Michigan Cultural Workshop was also held on Sunday, November 7. There were over 100 participants at the PRCUA 162 Hall in Wyandotte, Michigan. Coordinating the event was Tommy Lisiecki, choreographer and dance instructor of the PRCUA Halka Dancers and Zakopane Dance Ensemble as well as past National Director (D-10), together with many of the Michigan school directors. The 4 classes that were offered were COOKING (pierogi making taught by Lisa Brandt from the Rogalin Dancers), CRAFTS (Paper poppies with Jessica Wendt from Gwiazda Dancers), LANGUAGE (bi-lingual bingo with Kristi Mihalic from the Wieliczka Dancers), DANCE taught by Donna Skurski from the Opole Dancers. A continental breakfast and lunch were arranged by Laura Hejza from the Halka Dancers and Maria Jalkiewicz from the Polskie Maki Dancers was in charge of registration and sign in. Congratulations on your successful efforts and to all participants! Details and photos will be in an upcoming issue of the Naród Polski.
Consul General Malgorzata Bak-Guzik hosted a reception at the Consulate of the Polish Peoples Republic in Chicago on November 10 celebrating the 103rd Anniversary of Polish Independence Day. The program was both patriotic and artistic with speeches and awards of distinction presented to those who served in the Polish armed forces. The exquisite balance of classical and traditional music performed by the extraordinary talents of pianist Maralgua Darjas and soprano Kasia Dorula enhanced the Polish spirit of those present. Bravo! Bravissimo! Attending the event on behalf of the PRCUA was President and Mrs. Robaczewski, Richard and me. PHOTO #6, #7
Maria Konopnicka Polish School hosted a singing contest on Friday November 12 in honor of Polish Independence Day (11/11). It was held at the school’s new location, St. Gerald’s School in Oak Lawn, Illinois. The Polish National Anthem sung “a capella” was the “star” of the evening and the criteria was more than just knowing the words, but also stance, dress, and musicality. Each grade of classes performed to the best of their ability and it was a magnificent effort on the part of the students as well as the teacher.
The program was conducted by teacher Urszula Jarończyk. Principal Elżbieta Żeglen together with the School Board President Danielle Kroplewski and Vice President Joanna Niedzielski extended an invitation for me to serve as one of the judges which was a great honor for me. Richard served as the Sound Engineer. As a product of the Saturday Polish School system, it was a trip down memory lane – albeit, Polish school was different in my day. My classes were an hour of each: language, singing and dancing every Saturday afternoon from noon to 3 p.m. What hasn’t changed was the importance of learning Polish songs, especially the Polish anthem, a symbol of patriotic pride. Back to the contest, it was a very difficult decision as all the students gave it their best shot, but here are the winners: First Grade/Class A – Teresa Kaczmarzyk, teacher; Fourth Grade/Class A – Anna Szczech, teacher; High School Freshmen Class – Katarzyna Ziemianin, teacher; honorary mention to High School Sophomore Class (2LO) – Jan Oprzędek, teacher. Congratulations and thank you for this opportunity to be with you.
The 2021 wedding season for the Jaminski’s came to a close as Wesoly Lud alumna Ursula Marszalik and Dariusz Winski said “I DO” at Our Lady Mother of the Church in Willow Springs, Illinois. Although the brisk weather on the 13th day of November gave pause, the love of these newlywed’s warmed those present. The reception was held at Belvedere Chateau in Palos Hills, Illinois where in the company of many dear friends, Richard and I enjoyed the festivities. The bride’s twin sister, Monica, shared some secrets during her maid-of-honor speech and gave some sound advice to her “younger” sister (“every minute counts”). Four alumni couples from Wesoly Lud performed a Polonaise for the new Mr. and Mrs. including them and their parents in the finale. All the best, Mr. and Mrs. Winski! PHOTO # 8
Polonia Ensemble of PRCUA participated in the Polish Independence Mass and Program at St. John Brebeuf Parish in Niles, Illinois on November 14, 2021. PHOTO #9
The Polish Museum of America hosted several guests during the month of November including the Mayor of Chicago and other dignitaries during the Chicago-Warsaw Sister Cities Committee Polish Heritage Breakfast (11/16); representatives of the Polonika Institute from Poland which commissioned Tytus Brzozowski to create 12 renderings of 12 cities in which the Institute assists in the preservation and conservation of art collections; as well as the painter himself whose exhibit is on display at the PMA from October 23-December 11, 2021). President Robaczewski attended the Meet and Greet with the Painter on November 12, 2021. PHOTO #10
The 49th Cinderella-Prince Charming Ball was held on November 20, 2021 at Belvedere Chateau, Palos Hills, Illinois. Established in 1976, the Adult Culture Group of PRCUA is a credit to Polonia for its dedication to young adults as well as to multi-generations of its membership. This year, 22 young adults (high school age) were presented by their parents and each had the opportunity to be selected Cinderella, Prince Charming or Runner-ups, as the selection is by lottery. An absolutely stunning waltz choreographed by the incomparable Richard Jaminski was perfectly executed and it seemed the dancers were floating in the clouds. It was truly a work of art. Among the many dignitaries attending this event: Consul Agata Grochowska from the Polish Consulate in Chicago; Most Rev. Andrew P. Wypych, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago – Vicariate 5; Kathy Lesny-Evans, President of the Legion of Young Polish Women; Malgorzata Kot, Managing Director of the Polish Museum of America; Jolanta Wisnicka, Branch Manager of the PSFCU as well as Board Member Bogdan Ogorek and his wife, Katarzyna; and from the PRCUA, President and Mrs. James Robaczewski; Sec-Treas. Agnieszka and Daniel Bastrzyk; National Directors: Andrew Lech (D-6), Ewa Cholewinski (D-7), Liz Dynowski and Mirek Cislo (D-8), Beth Sadus (D-9); and of course, yours truly with my multi-talented husband, Richard. Congratulations to all who made this another enchanting evening – Candidates, Adult Culture Group members with Edward Muszalski at the helm, and the guests. Photos and details will be provided in an upcoming issue of the Naród Polski, but in the meantime, permit me to introduce 2022 Cinderella Natalia Bafia, Prince Charming Marcel Duda, and Runners-up Weronika Kaczmarczyk and Jakub Niedzielski. PHOTOS #11, 12, 13
Thanksgiving came upon us as it usually does on the fourth Thursday of November and yet, I feel it caught us by surprise. I believe this is one of the aftermaths of the pandemic – with all events cancelled or postponed in 2020, 2021 tried to catch up quickly and so are many of us. I do have an excuse this year, as Richard and I had a guest from Poznań, Poland during Thanksgiving – Piotr Kulka – his paternal grandmother and my maternal grandfather were siblings. Piotr is also the Artistic Director and Choreographer of the Wielkopolanie Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble in his home city. While in our town, he choreographed a suite for Wesoly Lud, for which we are grateful. Piotr came at the invitation of the Polish Folk Dance Association of the Americas in cooperation with a grant from Stowarzyszenie Wspólnota Polska to host a three day workshop on the sub-regions of Wielkopolska (Macro or Greater Poland ethnographic region of Poland). The workshop was held from November 26 through 28, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and hosted by our friends, the Syrena Polish Folk Dance Ensemble (Duane Tomka, Artistic Director and Choreographer). Attending the workshop from the PRCUA Choreographers were Richard Jaminski (who was Piotr’s accompanist, translator and chauffeur), Konrad Bialas, Michael Dziadkowiec, Dominika Górnikowski, Danielle and Emilia Kroplewski, Jakub Niedzielski, Basia and Nicholas Nowakowski, and Emilia and Conrad Wiecek. PHOTO# 14, 15
Condolences to the family of Jeanne Ryjewski, sister of former PRCUA First Lady Loretta Dykla who passed away at age 97 on November 7, 2021.
Speedy recovery to my dear friend Evelyn Cedzidlo and past National Director (D-7) Robert Bugielski.
Best wishes to all those celebrating December birthdays and anniversaries, especially Danielle Kroplewski (12/4), Renee Kroplewski and Dr. Katarzyna Rogala-Jacher (12/5); my Chief-of-Staff and Fraternal Department Coordinator, Conrad Wiecek (12/15); first birthday of District 7 Director Anna Krysinski’s grandson Lucas Montgomery (12/19); past PRCUA President Joseph A. Drobot Jr. (12/20); Marketing Associate Anne Moschopoulus and Paul Pazdziora (12/26) and Gosia Niemiec (12/31).
Congratulations to National Director (D-6) Andrew and Patricia Lech on the birth of their third daughter, Juliette Patricia, on October 29, 2021. Sisters Adeline and Sophie happily welcomed their new little sister with open arms. It seems that Andrew and Patty are following the footsteps of both sides of the family – Danielle and Robert Kroplewski first welcomed three lovely daughters and then three handsome sons, and Patty’s parents had three lovely daughters. Time will tell what the future holds for you – in the meantime, enjoy your precious little girls! Congratulations to the grandparents as well – past National Director (D-8) Krystyna and Tadeusz Lech and Ursula and Christopher Zupnik.
We wish you a Merry Christmas! We wish you a Merry Christmas! We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!