July? I cannot believe that it is already July! Didn’t June just start and now it’s over? I guess it is true what they say, “time flies when you are having fun.”

It seems like yesterday that on June 1st that the Board of Directors met in Chicago and we were celebrating PRCUA’s patron, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with Holy Mass in the Great Hall of the Polish Museum of America. Ewa Cholewinski and Kevin Kucik, Directors from District 7 and chairs of the event, were busy planning the menu for the dinner that followed. It was a very nice gathering and an opportunity to meet with our members and friends. Mrs. Barbara Rustik and her daughter, Gillian, were in attendance, as we prayed for all living and deceased PRCUA members, including Jim Rustik, a former director and past president of District 8, a great lawyer, and an equally great friend who passed away on May 11. Read all the details on p. 1.

June was chock-full of happy moments and we wish all the celebrants and graduates the best of health, happiness and success. There were birthdays [Mila Turkiewicz and Elizabeth Dziadulewicz (6/3), Nini Leonhard and Victoria Bomba (6/7), Małgorzata Kot (6/14), a golden one for Rene Kraszewski-Kaleta (6/19), Anna Grabowski (6/20), Richard Jaminski (6/26), the first birthday for Maya Kroplewski (6/27), and countless others]; anniversaries; graduations – two for the Toboy family with Ania (high school) and Zosia (grammar school); double that for the Skowyra family with Lucas (college) and Julia (high school); one each for the Bonkowski’s, Robaczewski’s, and Gals as Natalya, Joey and Cinderella 2024 – Daniela Gal, respectively, are now high school graduates; festivals and Polish Heritage Nights festivities. Speaking of the latter two, there was the Polish Heritage Night at Jimmy John’s Field in Michigan where the PRCUA Halka, Polskie Maki and Zajaczek dancers performed (6/14); the 42nd Polish Fest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (6/14-16) where PRCUA Dancers from the Wesoly Lud Dance Company and the Wesoly Ludek Group of the Southwest Center of Polish Song and Dance performed (Danielle Kroplewski – dance instructor at both was a very entertaining emcee); and the 42nd American Polish Festival & Craft Show at the American Polish Century Club in Sterling Heights, Michigan (6/21-23) where PRCUA Halka, Opole, Zajaczek and Zakopane Dancers performed. Our very own PRCUA Chaplain, the Most Rev. Walter J. Ptak celebrated Mass, and whose extraordinary homily was acknowledged with applause. The month ended with the Polish Heritage Night at the White Sox in Chicago (6/25). Adoring fans paraded around the field, proudly waving to the crowds, Polish flags seen throughout the stadium. The amazing rendition of our national anthem, sung by our PRCUA member and recent DePaul University graduate, Alan Krolikowski, was met by thunderous applause. Then it was time for the Wesoły Lud Polish Folk Dance Company to perform on the field (a second performance happened between the 2nd and 3rd innings). Performing their Krakowiak suite, twelve couples adorned the Polish night festivities. It was time to throw the first pitch and although I am not very athletic, I was asked to give it my best shot and so I did, proudly wearing my PRCUA t-shirt. Rare opportunities present themselves and this was one of them. The weather cooperated and the Polonian contingent spearheaded by PRCUA had a great time. Thanks to Matt Roti from the White Sox and Conrad Wiecek, PRCUA Fraternal Coordinator, for their efforts to make this evening a success.

Special thanks not only to the dancers who performed at these and all other festivals and events, many times in sweltering conditions, but also to all the Artistic Directors and Choreographers, Managing (School) Directors, Dance Instructors, Assistants, and Parents who work tirelessly through the summer months to keep the Polish dance culture in the limelight! Thank you! Thank you! A hundred times thank you!

In addition to all the celebrations listed above, other events took place as well. On Saturday, June 8, the PMA unveiled the newly restored “Symbol of Poland Reborn” stained glass window which was originally from the Polish Pavilion at the 1939 New York’s World Fair. After 84 years, the magnificent two-story stained glass was repaired, cleaned and conserved. This significant restoration was generously funded in memory of Zbigniew Uzarowicz by his wife Betty, son Piotr and wife Ellen, and grandchildren Harlow and Evangeline. God bless the Uzarowicz family for their continuing support.

June 14 was an extremely busy day for the PRCUA Officers as first the annual Flag Day Celebration at Home Office was held in the afternoon with the 44th Annual Polish Museum of America Summer Gala in the evening. Details of the former are found on p. 8. As for the latter, the chairperson of the Ball, Małgorzata Palka, together with PMA President Richard Owsiany, Managing Director Małgorzata Kot, Reservation Chair (former PRCUA Vice President and PMA Board Member) Anna Sokołowski ably assisted by Mary Jane Robles, the PMA Staff and Board Members, brought the festivities back to the former Starlight Inn, now known as the O’Hare Tech Center Venue in Schiller Park, Illinois. The Spirit Award was given to Dr. Ewa Radwańska, MD, PhD. (individual category) and the Polish Scouting Organization of Illinois ZHP (organization category). In addition to her dedication to her profession, Dr. Radwańska is also a philantropist and a leader in Polonia; the Polish Scouts have contributed much in their 75-year history to building the character and instilling good habits in the future leaders of Polonia. PRCUA was represented by President and PMA Chairman of BOD James Robaczewski and his wife, Elaine; Sec-Treas. Agnieszka Bastrzyk and her husband, Daniel; and yours truly as both Vice President and PMA Vice Chair with my husband, Richard. Also, in attendance from the PRCUA was Legal Counsel for both PRCUA and PMA John Chitkowski with his wife, Kerry; 2024 Cinderella and Prince Charming, Daniela Gal and Dylan Skowyra, together with members of the Adult Culture Group with President (National Director District 8) Elizabeth Dynowski; as well as PMA supporters, many from other Polonian organizations.

The following week brought sadness to those who knew Lorie Rose Gorny, past Lady Vice President of PRCUA (1978-1982) and past Director of District 7 (1966-1970). Just three months shy of her 102nd birthday, Mrs. Gorny passed away on June 20. She was the second Lady Vice President I worked with at PRCUA and among the many memories I have of her, include the memorable trip to Kosciuszko, Mississippi in 1979 with Wesoły Lud; her support of Wesoły Lud’s first trip to the Rzeszów Festival in 1980 and the Polish Folk Dance Seminar and Festival sponsored by the ACPC, hosted by the PRCUA Women’s Department in Chicago in 1982. For her last birthday in 2023, her son Richard invited the PRCUA Polonia Ensemble to perform for her and it was at the care facility where she resided, that former Resident Vice President, Anna Sokolowski, came upon Mrs. Gorny during her visit to see her own 104-year old aunt. Mrs. Gorny often spoke of her deep admiration for her mother-in-law, Aniela Górna, also a former PRCUA Lady Vice President.  A dedication to Lorie Rose Gorny is found on p. 21. Rest in peace, Mrs. Gorny. You did your family, PRCUA and Polonia proud! Thank you for your dedication. Our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

At this time, I would also extend our condolences to Margaret Picur and her family on the passing of her husband, Kazimierz J. Picur at age 71. I know Margaret from her affiliation with the successful Polish festivals at the Friendship Botanical Gardens (formerly known as the International Friendship Gardens), in Michigan City, Indiana. Margaret also helped organize Polka Masses at the local St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish. Wesoły Lud, Southwest Center of Polish Song and Dance, and Polanie performed at either or both Michigan City events, all before the pandemic. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

July bodes many fun events and of course, our country’s Independence Day tops the list. Hope your celebration is safe but festive.

On July 14 at noon, the Detroit Mass Mob LVIII will be celebrating the 152nd Anniversary of the founding of St. Albertus Parish in Detroit, Michigan. Many of our PRCUA Dance Groups will be attending the Anniversary Mass which will be celebrated by Father Wally Ptak. Founded in 1872, St. Albertus Parish is where the PRCUA was founded. It was closed in 1990 as part of a reorganization by the Archdiocese of Detroit, but the following year, a group of parishioners formed the Polish American Historic Site Association (PAHSA) to maintain and preserve the church. Many of these volunteers are PRCUA Members including Celeste Grabowski and PRCUA applauds their continuing efforts.

The 71st PRCUA Golf Tournament will be hosted by the PRCUA Toledo Societies in Oregon, Ohio, on July 20th. VikkieJean Mixon, the tournament chair, promises a great time, so come join us.

Sadly, the much-anticipated International Festival of Polonian Children’s Ensembles in Iwonicz Zdrój, Poland, will definitely not be happening this year due to a lack of funding from the organizational side. The last time it was held was in 2018. Looking forward to attending these festivals is as important to the dancers as it is in the preservation of the dance groups themselves. The fundraising efforts by staff and parents is massive and when a festival does not happen, it is disheartening. All our U.S. groups pay their own transportation as well as fees for room, board and participation at the festival.   PRCUA helps with a portion of the land cost but with so many participants in the last ten years, our funding is limited as well. The festival is good for tourism in Poland as it avails our American families who fall in love with Poland to want to see it from the sea to the mountains from east to west. They want the entire experience. It is sad that another group of youngsters (the pandemic stopped the 2021 festival from happening), will not experience the Iwonicz Zdrój festival. Our fingers are crossed for 2025 which was promised as an alternative, but only time will tell. In the meantime, Gwiazda Dancers are opting for two international dance festivals in Macedonia. The Opole Dancers will be staying in the U.S. but participating in the Cheektowaga Festival in western New York. Młoda Polonia will be travelling to Poland with a private itinerary. (Wesoły Ludek, Polanie, Halka and Zajaczek are waiting to see what 2025 will bring). We wish the 2024 travellers much success and happy memories, but the fact is that a festival like Iwonicz or Rzeszów is a truly unique experience. It is not just about the performances, but the entire package – integrating, socializing, working together for a common goal, all the while having fun and making memories.

Happy Independence Day! Happy July! Happy Vacation!