What a difference a year makes! I was writing last year’s February article from sunny, breezy Boca Raton, Florida. Going on vacation with Richard was one of my 2020 New Year’s resolutions. I checked off a few more when I passed the Licensed Agent’s exam in January of 2020 and restarted teaching a new group of Adult Culture Group members. It seemed that from a fraternal aspect, things were moving along as usual in 2020 – Masquerade Balls and Carnival Dances, Basketball Tournament, Michigan State Ball, Anniversary Banquets, Fashion Show, Symposiums, etc. etc. etc. and suddenly, everything came to a screeching halt. I do not need to remind you of the last 11 months as we all experienced a massive change to our everyday lives. Now as we wait for our turn to be vaccinated, we reflect on the next stage of the new normal. In the meantime, continue to stay safe, wear a mask and keep your social distance.

2021 has been declared the Year of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński by the Polish parliament in honor of this distinguished clergyman who helped to preserve and strengthen Christianity under communist rule. One of the major Catholic figures in Poland’s recent history, 2021 marks the 120th anniversary of Cardinal Wyszyński’s birth and 40th of his passing. In 1953, when he was elevated to cardinal by Pope Pius XII, he assumed the title of Primate of Poland and often was referred to as the Primate of the Millennium. In 1989, the case for his beatification and canonization was opened, “(he had the title of Servant of God when the cause commenced) and has many proponents in the Vatican and in his native Poland, where he is well known for his heroic and principled stand against Nazism and Communism, and because of his connections to Pope John Paul II (he played a key role in urging then-Cardinal Wojtyła to accept his election as Supreme Pontiff). Pope Francis named him as Venerable on 18 December 2017 upon confirming his heroic virtue.

To many he was the unquestionable leader of the Polish nation (the uncrowned king of Poland), in opposition to the totalitarian government. He is also credited for the survival of Polish Christianity in the face of its repression and persecution during the reign of the 1945-1989 Communist regime. He himself was imprisoned for three years and is considered by many to be a Polish national hero” [IMDb Mini Biography By: Ron Whisky].  In honor of the Year of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the PRCUA will bring attention to this Polish prelate of the Roman Catholic Church through its 2021 Scholarship programs and Heritage Month contest. Please read Fr. Eric Orzech’s article on p.12 and look to upcoming issues of the Naród Polski for the Scholarship and Heritage Month Programs.

I have a personal memory of Cardinal Wyszynski when in 1964, my father, Mieczysław Binkowski, organized a group tour of Poland and amidst the places of interest, there was an audience with Cardinal Wyszyński in Warsaw. My mother, sister and I were part of the entourage. Much to my delight, I had the privilege of reciting a sketch “Paweł i Gaweł” for him. PHOTO #1

In the chaos of the past year, we continue to search for random acts of kindness. I would like to bring your attention to one such PRCUA member whose love of Polish American Young Adults resulted in a generous contribution to the PRCUA Education Fund which grants scholarships for higher education. On November 15, 2020, Jacenty Dobosz of Chicago, passed away. We only learned of his death a few weeks ago. The PRCUA Education Fund was the beneficiary of Mr. Dobosz’s annuities. We know very little about this man except that he had a big heart for the youth, but the PRCUA will make certain that the recipients of this scholarship will know of their benefactor. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Polish composer and vocalist Ryszard Rynkowski sings „Those who leave, are always with us and remain at our side.” We are aware of this whenever we think of them, we realize how much they have done for us, for their family, in promoting Polish culture, especially the folk singing and dancing, and how much they have taught us. The late Cecylia Rożnowska was the founder, artistic director and choreographer of two song and dance ensembles, WARMIA in Olsztyn, Poland for 30 years, and POLONIA in CHICAGO for over 30 years. In addition, she conducted folk dance classes and inspired young, future dance instructors. Cecylia Rożnowska left behind an impressive “dance legacy.” Certainly, these achievements will not be forgotten by her dancers, the Polish community or the family – daughter Ania with her husband Janusz, grandchildren Jaclyn, Jonathan with his wife Małgorzata, Adam and great-grandson Łukasz.

I met Cecylia Rożnowska in 1982 when I chaired the Polish Folk Dance Festival in Chicago during which “Pani Celina” presented dances form the Warmia region. From the onset, ours was a friendship based on fun and folk.  I introduced her and Ania to then PRCUA Vice President, Regina Oćwieja. A long term relationship with our organization ensued, for which we are very grateful. Both sides benefited from this collaboration, especially the children and youth of POLONIA from northwest side of Chicago and its suburbs.

To keep Pani Celina’s spirit alive and to honor her memory, I encourage the members of POLONIA to dance in the ensemble for as long as possible, to support it after leaving the group and to always remember their Polish roots.

On behalf of the Executive Officers, Directors and Members of the Polish Roman Catholic Union in America; the Wesoły Lud Polish Folk Dance Company, the Polish American community from Chicago’s southwest side and suburbs; my husband – Richard Jaminski and myself, I extend my deepest sympathy to Celina’s family and friends.

Quoting a Polish song, “Dearest Blessed Mother, create a space for her – a little corner at Jesus’ feet.”

Shortly after the festival in 1982,  Cecylia Rożnowska choreographed and taught a suite of dances and songs from the region of Warmia for the Wesoły Lud Polish Folk Dance Company introducing Chicago to yet another beautiful region in Poland. PHOTO #2

Welcome February! May you bring with you the love of St. Valentine, an early spring (so here’s hoping the Groundhog will not see its shadow), leadership in the legacy of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and time for prayer and reflection during Lent.

Photo#1: My performance for Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński in 1964

Photo#2: Wesoly Lud at the Rzeszów Festival in 1983