Hello February! You are with us a little longer this year as it is leap year. What gifts do you have in store for us in 2024? Six less weeks of winter on Groundhog Day (2/2)? A day off for Presidents’ Day (2/19)? Will there be pączki for Fat Thursday (2/8) or Mardi Gras (2/13) or both? Although romance and chocolates usually take center stage on Valentine’s Day (2/14), this year we will have to celebrate before the actual holiday since Ash Wednesday falls on the same date and we know that fasting and abstinence must be observed. As you search for plans with your Valentine, check out some of the events sponsored by our language schools and dance groups during this Carnival season which you will read all about in our next issue of the Naród Polski. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, former chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and

Catechesis of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offers “10 Things to Remember for Lent”:

  1. Remember the formula: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
  2. It’s a time for prayer: Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over 40 days. As we pray, we go on a journey, one that hopefully brings us closer to Christ and leaves us changed by the encounter with him.
  3. It’s a time to fast: Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, meatless Fridays, and our personal disciplines interspersed.
  4. It’s a time to work on discipline. The 40 days of Lent are also a good, set time to work on personal discipline in general. Instead of giving something up, it can be doing something positive.
  5. It’s about dying to yourself. The more serious side of Lenten discipline is that it’s about more than self-control—it’s about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them die.
  6. Don’t do too much. It’s tempting to make Lent some ambitious period of personal reinvention, but it’s best to keep it simple and focused.
  7. Lent reminds us of our weakness. Of course, even when we set simple goals for ourselves during Lent, we still have trouble keeping them… God is calling us to be patient and to see ourselves as he does, with unconditional love.
  8. Be patient with yourself. When we’re confronted with our own weakness during Lent, the temptation is to get angry and frustrated…God is calling us to be patient and to see ourselves as he does, with unconditional love.
  9. Reach out in charity. As we experience weakness and suffering during Lent, we should be renewed in our compassion for those who are hungry, suf­fering, or otherwise in need…
  10. Learn to love like Christ. Giving of ourselves in the midst of our suffering and self-denial brings us closer to loving like Christ, who suffered and poured himself out unconditionally on the Cross for all of us… Lent is a journey through the desert to the foot of the Cross on Good Friday, as we seek him out, ask his help, join in his suffering, and learn to love like him.

Wishing you peace this Lenten season.

As one can image, Richard and I were on a roller-coaster of emotions during December. News of my mother-in-law’s sudden passing came on the day of the District 8 Opłatek where 150 dancers were performing, 600+ people attended, and Richard was in charge of show. Time seemed to pass in slow motion during the days that followed. Upon our return from Poland for the funeral, although laden with grief, obligations to work and family in preparation for our Wigilia went into high gear. By the grace of God and our parents’ spirit to guide us, our family once again enjoyed the Wigilia traditions of our heritage. On Christmas Day, we left for a pre-planned joint vacation organized by our daughter, Niki. The time we spent together was quite memorable and amidst a lot of noise and merriment by the children on New Year’s Eve, I realized that this wonderful group of people had never been together for a new year celebration, and I relished every moment. This was indeed a most precious gift. Such memories will remain in our hearts for years to come. Thank you to our wonderful daughters, marvelous sons-in-law, and absolutely fantastic grandchildren. Let’s do it again soon. And to all of you, wonderful family and friends, thank you for your words of comfort, Masses and prayers for Maria Jamińska. Richard, Jacek, Ania, Krysztof and I are eternally grateful. My hope is that your Christmas was as special as each of you are. And this New Year will be a healthy and happy one!

January activities were steady with the last half quite intense as was the weather. Richard and I celebrated the birthday of our very good friend, Irena Gavaghan, together with her husband, Brian, on the Day of the Epiphany. A patron of the arts (especially PRCUA events) and a great humanitarian, Irena is a blessing to her family, friends, and clientele. Her gentle touch has given solace to many in pain. Another aficionado of angels and red poppies, she poses with a new addition to her collection.

Rehearsals began on January 7 for the Shirley M. Galanty Michigan State Ball. Kelly Malinowski, Artistic Director and Choreographer for the Ball, is readily preparing 16 graduates (9 ladies and 7 gentlemen) representing 6 PRCUA Michigan Dance Schools: Gwiazda, Halka, Opole, Polskie Maki, Rogalin and Zajączek. The Ball will be held on Saturday, February 24 in Southgate, Michigan. We are looking forward to another lovely evening with very charming Graduates, School Directors, School Instructors and of course, parents and guests.

With 4 degrees Fahrenheit and a wind chill factor of -4, I had an interview with Dziennik Związkowy’s General Manager, Łukasz Dudka, the selection of PRCUA as the Dziennik’s “Person of the Year.” Mr. Robaczewski and Mrs. Bastrzyk were interviewed in December.

The Wesoły Lud Polish Folk Dance Company held its 1970’s Winter Dinner Dance on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at Camelot Banquets in Hickory Hills, Illinois, honoring its five-year dance members: Liliana Cislo, Kuba Niedzielski, Karolina Slomba and Kevin Wildhirt. Each attended either the Southwest Center of Polish Dancing and/or Polanie of the JPII Polish School as children, and as freshmen in high school joined Wesoły Lud. The dance program included solos by the honorees and ensemble numbers. Many of the attendees wore 1970’s costumes adding to the ambiance of the evening.

On Sunday, January 21, the Adult Culture Group of PRCUA hosted an Afterglow for the 2024 Royal Court and Candidates of the Cinderella-Prince Charming Ball, at Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park, Illinois. Preparations for the ACG Fashion Show are underway and will be held on March 10. President Elizabeth Dynowski warmly greeted those in attendance and I was asked to present plaques to Cinderella Daniela Gal, Prince Charming Dylan Skowyra, and Runners-up: Amilia Szwajnos and Konrad Kiernia.

The Annual Studniówka of the Polish High School Seniors was held at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. Sponsored by the Polish Teachers Association of America and hosted by Akademia Języka Polskiego i Kultury im. Marszałka Józefa Piłsudzkiego in Bartlett, Illinois – the 1,000+ seniors came to party – after all, there’s only 100 days left until they graduate. PRCUA Sec-Treas. Agnieszka Bastrzyk (also President of the Holy Trinity Polish School) joined Richard and me at this formal event. We were able to applaud the graduates, many from our PRCUA sponsored schools. Bravo to all for a wonderful evening!

In another part of the city, President and Mrs. Robaczewski attended the Evening of Elegance event sponsored by the Chicago Society of PNA at the Park Ridge Country Club in Park Ridge, Illinois. The Chicago Society honored the Paderewski Symphony Orchestra and recognized the Honorable Diann K. Marszalek with Romuald “Ro” Matuszczak award.

Meanwhile, Marketing Director Elzbieta Sawczuk represented PRCUA at the Family Carnival Ball hosted by the PRCUA Polonia Song and Dance Ensemble. The cast of over 130 performed at the event which was held at Kings Hall in Lombard, Illinois.

On Sunday, January 28, Wesoły Lud performed at the Opłatek at St. Joseph Parish, a Polish cathedral-style church, founded in 1887 with the current church building dating back to 1914. St. Joseph served the Back of the Yards Polish neighborhood well through its history and I personally remember it as my father lived in that area with his grandparents and hosted many Polish events in the parish hall. This was the first Opłatek since the pandemic and it was wonderful to see it back. Thank you, Marek Wojciechowski, for continuing the tradition on behalf of this parish.

January 2024 went out with more fanfare than it arrived. The Dziennik Związkowy, (the Polish Daily News, published since 1908) selected the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America its prestigious 2024 “Person of the Year.” The elegant Award Ceremony was held on Wednesday, January 31, at Allegra Banquets in Schiller Park, Illinois. The PRCUA Executive Committee received the distinction from Frank Spula – Publisher of the Dziennik Związkowy, Alicja Otap – Editor-in-Chief of the Polish Daily News and Łukasz Dudka – General Manager of the Dziennik Związkowy. Reports from this event in the next issue of Narod Polski.

Happy birthday to so many individuals, but especially to two dynamic PRCUA District 10 Ladies: current D-10 National Director Colleen Bonkowski (1/27) and former D-10 National Director Basia Toboy (1/28). Speaking of birthdays – it seems that to work in the PRCUA Sales Department you have to be an Aquarian and all three of our Sales staff are. Birthday wishes to Joanna “Asia”Blach (1/25); Marge Grzeszczuk (1/29) and Lily Prado (2/8) [Funny Mike Dziadkowiec was also celebrating 1/31].Speaking of birthdays, I wish our employees: Mateusz Bomba and his daughter Milena, Bogusława Chrzanowska, and all February birthdays a lot of health, happiness and Happy Birthday! Best of health and happiness to all of you and Sto Lat to all Januarians!