Let’s begin the new month with a celebration… after all, June 1st is International Children’s Day! In Poland, this special occasion, which began in 1952, coincides with the beginning of summer and the end of school. On this day (and sometimes throughout the first week of June), a plethora of festivities are organized that are all dedicated to children – from outdoor programs to field trips, television programs and even gifts and treats are involved. I read that on this date in Warsaw, “the Parliament was run by the children, instead of regular Members of Parliament.” (Kasia, Polish Language Blog). Technically, the day was to focus on children’s rights, their education and upbringing. No doubt last year’s celebration was modified, but parents (and especially, grandparents) will find a suitable alternative to celebrate their little darlings this year. Interesting enough, I read that in the United States, there is a National Children’s Day celebrated the second Sunday of June which dates back to the 1860’s. Initially, the day was to bring about social awareness of the plight of many children – including homelessness, hunger, etc. And although I have never seen that date on a calendar, I believe it is worth remembering every day. So instead of a tangible gift, spend some quality time playing with the children in your life and let your inner child enjoy the fun as well!
Before we continue with June, let us recap the previous month and the many observances we enjoyed as we cautiously emerged from hibernation (I refer to the pandemic). The celebrations of International Workers Day (5/1), Polish Flag Day and Polonia Day (5/2), and the May 3rd Constitution Day in Chicago may not have been the program marathon of the past, but there were many events in various parts of town and a surprising addition to the familiar May 3rd festivities with the inclusion of the consul and representatives of Lithuania and of Lithuanian Americans. The May 3rd Constitution of 1791, “was a constitution adopted by the Great Sejm for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a dual monarchy comprising the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Festivities date back to the Duchy of Warsaw early in the 19th century, but it became an official holiday only in 1919 in the Second Polish Republic. Delisted during the times of the Polish People’s Republic, it was reestablished after the fall of communism in modern Poland.” (Wikipedia). Although Lithuania did not declare May 3rd a national holiday until 2007 when it was concelebrated jointly by the Polish Sejm and Lithuanian Seimas, it seems the time was at hand to come together here in the United States as well.
The Polonia Ensemble of PRCUA, under the direction of Anna Krysinski, manager, and Jaclyn Krysinski, artistic director and choreographer, presented a theatrical patriotic presentation on the 230th anniversary of the May 3rd Polish Constitution (program written and produced by Iwona Puc) at St. Ferdinand’s Parish for its Polish school students. The program was live-streamed and preceded the virtual May 3rd Parade organized by the Alliance of Polish Clubs (5/1). Invited by the President of the Polish American Congress and Polish National Alliance, Frank Spula, I had the honor of participating in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the monument of Thaddeus Kosciuszko in downtown Chicago, as well as the concelebrated Holy Mass at Holy Trinity Polish Mission down the street from our PRCUA headquarters (5/2). Accompanying me was my husband, Richard. Later that day, Secretary-Treasurer Agnieszka Bastrzyk represented the PRCUA at the Bal Maturalny sponsored by the Polish Teachers Association for all the area Polish high school graduates. On Monday, May 3rd, the celebration continued with a flag-raising ceremony at Daley Center in downtown Chicago and an awards ceremony at the Polish Consulate in Chicago celebrating, among others, our very own Anna Krysinski and the musical director of Polonia Ensemble, Mieczysław Dziś, who both received the Bronze Medal “Gloria Artis” from the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage. We congratulate both Mrs. Krysinski and Mr. Dziś on this distinction. PHOTOS# 1,2
Mirek Cislo, national director of District 8, represented the PRCUA at the John Paul II Polish School graduation festivities, which consisted of Holy Mass at SS Cyril and Methodius Parish on May 9 and the high school graduate prom later in the evening, and concluded on May 16 with the 8th grade graduation luncheon. We thank Principal Halina Szyrzyna for her kind invitation, her dedication to her school and its students, as well as continued interest and involvement in the PRCUA. Thank you, Pani Halinko and your staff! Thank you, Mirek! (Hope you had a very happy birthday on 5/24!) PHOTOS# 3,4,5
On May 11, I attended a meeting with a member of the Polish Parliament, Maria Kurowska, who represents the constituency of Krosno in the Subcarpathian Province of Poland. Hosting the meeting and press conference was PAC and PNA President Frank Spula. As the vice president of PRCUA and PAC national treasurer, it was an honor to have the opportunity to meet with Poseł Kurowska here in Chicago and sing the praises of PRCUA. I was initially introduced to her at the International Polish Folk Dance Festivals in Rzeszów and Iwonicz Zdrój by former PRCUA VP Anna Sokolowski when Mrs. Kurowska was the vice marshal of the Subcarpathian Province. PHOTO# 6
The PRCUA Michigan dance schools were exceptionally creative with their recital venues this year including parking lots and park pavilions with one brave group, the Halka Dancers, inside the Van Dyke Community Auditorium in Warren. I am more than sure that each of the Michigan schools will tell their own story, providing details and photos in this or upcoming editions of the Naród Polski, but I would like to acknowledge them, as well as the efforts of PRCUA Michigan dance schools’ #1 fan, National Director Colleen Bonkowski, who attended each and every one of them. Now that’s fraternalism at its best! Thank you, Colleen!
On May 2, the Rogalin Dance Troupe of Wyandotte, MI, held its 52nd recital and honored their choreographer, Janet Vilag, on her 45th anniversary with the group. The director of Rogalin is Lisa Brandt. The Halka Dancers of Warren, with school director Laura Cerankowski-Hejza at the helm, held its 52nd recital on May 9, honoring Thomas Lisiecki for his 30 years as their choreographer. (Tom also served as national director of PRCUA for twelve years). On May 23rd, there were two dance recitals to applaud. The 64th annual dance recital of the Wieliczka Dance Ensemble took place thanks to the efforts of school director Kristi Mihalic, choreographer/dance Instructor Kasia Schemansky-Reese, and an enthusiastic group of performers. The Tatry Dancers celebrated their 50th recital—it was Karen Lubiarz’s 32nd as choreographer and Gail Esker’s first recital in the two years since she stepped into the position as school director. Rose Ann Lackey, former Tatry director for a great many years, was in the audience. Bravo to all who organized, performed and supported the above events! I would also like to congratulate Jessica Wendt on her 10th anniversary as Gwiazda Dance Ensemble’s director. Jessica also serves as the PRCUA choreographers’ liaison with the PFDAA (Polish Folk Dance Association of the Americas, Inc.).
The 30th Shirley Ann Galanty Michigan State Ball was held in the midst of the recital season on Saturday, May 15, at the Marino Club in Troy. Thirteen graduates were presented from seven Michigan dance schools: Schyler Babicz and Mikołaj Sobiesiuk (Gwiazda); Natalie Palencik, Andrew Bartkiewicz, Evan Krass and Jacob Tabaczynski (Halka); Donovan Baker (Opole); Julia Gutierrez and Olivia Harder (Rogalin); Elise Lubiarz (Tatry); Breanna Kinsey (Wieliczka); Victoria Dawidowicz and Olivia Westphal (Zajączek). Congratulations, graduates! The efforts and organizational skills of the Michigan school directors and choreographers and dance instructors, ball choreographer Kelly Malinowski and chairperson Maria Jalkiewicz made this one enchanted evening. The beautiful princesses and handsome princes entertained an equally lovely group of admirers with a polonaise, a waltz and a few show-stopping tunes. Both President Robaczewski and I sent audio messages and we thank Colleen Bonkowski for delivering them. Former PRCUA President Joseph A. Drobot Jr. (the initiator of renaming the Michigan State Ball to include its founder and first choreographer’s name) was invited to give the toast. Both he and his father, former PRCUA President Joseph A. Drobot Sr., worked closely with Shirley. Thomas Lisiecki was the emcee. To each and every school director, choreographer and dance instructor – past and present – thank you for sharing your time, talents and “joie de vivre” with your students for so many years. Each of you rightfully have your place in the PRCUA Hall of Fame. Special congratulations to my dear friend, Donna Skurski, who this year celebrates her golden anniversary of teaching Polish folk dancing and was honored by the ball committee and the PRCUA. I was privy to the surprise planned for Donna and found Kelly Malinowski’s words to me about Donna so noteworthy. Throughout Donna’s 50 years of teaching, she inspired and encouraged many to follow in her footsteps, embracing her love of Polish dance and sharing it with future generations. Many of today’s Michigan dance instructors were her students. Bravo, Donna, and thank you for your contribution to Polish folk dance, the Polish community, PFDAA, and of course, PRCUA! (Belated Happy Anniversary to you and Tom as well!) PHOTOS# 7,8,9,10
The Polonia Ensemble of PRCUA held its recital on Sunday, May 16, at European Crystal Banquets in Arlington Heights, IL. Krasnoludki, Mała Polonia, Młoda Polonia and the adult ensemble performed a new repertoire of dance suites choreographed by the following dance instructors: Jaclyn Krysinski, Madzia Rozko, Nicole and Nina Romek and Emilia Wojciak. In between the dance numbers, songs composed and written by Mieczysław Dziś were performed by soloists, duets, and the entire ensemble. Mr. Dziś, Polonia’s musical director, also provided the musical accompaniment to the dances, together with the ensemble’s band. In addition, there were several recitations by youth members of the Polonia Ensemble. I had the privilege of attending the event with President Robaczewski, my husband Richard and close to 350 guests. PHOTO#11.
There were many events in May, including first Holy Communion (5/8) and the graduation mass (5/15) of Maria Konopnicka Polish Language School students, Holy Mass for high school graduates of Polish schools in the Chicagoland area (5/16), as well as others. After all, May is the month of holy communions and graduations, but not only from Polish schools. Each and every graduation is such a major achievement for our children that we must applaud each one from kindergarten through graduate school. PHOTO#12
There was one graduation in particular that I would like to bring to your attention. On May 3 in Oxford, Mississippi, Tristan Turkiewicz graduated from the University of Mississippi—Ole Miss—and more importantly, received his commission as a Marine officer. To add to this momentous occasion, Tristan’s grandfather, naval officer Richard Turkiewicz, was able to present Tristan his Marine officer’s Mameluke sword. (“Marine Corps history states that a sword of this type was presented to Marine First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon by the Ottoman Empire viceroy, Prince Hamet, on December 8, 1805, during the First Barbary War, in Libya, as a gesture of respect and praise for the Marines’ actions at the Battle of Derna (1805). Since that time [with the exception of two time periods], Mameluke swords have been worn by Marine officers in a continuing tradition to the present day.” [Wikipedia]) PRCUA would like to congratulate the Turkiewicz family (PRCUA members) on this auspicious occasion, but especially Tristan, “Grandpa T” (Richard Turkiewicz, a former PRCUA National Director) and parents. God bless you all! PHOTOS# 13,14
The quarterly meetings of the PRCUA Board of Directors have been held virtually during the past 15 months. The second quarter meeting of 2021 was held on May 21-22 and, this time, included elections for two national directors from Districts 1 and 10. Although you are familiar with virtual meetings, I thought you would like to see your national directors and candidates at work and onscreen. Congratulations to Valerie Brumm (D-10) and George David (D-1)! Welcome “aboard”! PHOTO# 15
Another celebration of great importance was the ordination of 22 deacons at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, one of whom is known to us in PRCUA and especially to President Robaczewski. Now known as Deacon Kevin Kucik, Kevin served as a national director, representing District 7 of PRCUA (2014-2018). An extremely intelligent individual, he was a great asset to the PRCUA Board of Directors, but his religious calling was stronger. Congratulations, Deacon Kucik! May God bless you now and forever! PHOTO# 16
There has been much reference to the date May 3, so why now add another? My goddaughter and niece, Joline Coltri, gave birth to her second son on Polish Constitution Day. Joline’s husband, Anthony, felt it only right to honor both his own Polish and Italian heritage, so he insisted on the name Donatello. Congratulations to the parents and big brother, Cooper! And Donny… welcome to the family! PHOTOS# 17,18
Belated happy anniversary wishes to my sister, Jeanine, and her husband, Brian! Same to all who celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and other life moments in May and to all who will celebrate in June. Happy Silver Anniversary to Elizabeth and Mirek Cislo! Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Krysinski, son of Anna and Janusz Krysinski, on their nuptials. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my soon-to-be 4-year-old lovely granddaughter, Mila; sister Jeanine; sis-in-law Anna; mom-in-law Maria, Victoria Gavaghan, the future Mrs. Mateusz Bomba, and especially, the love of my life—soul mate—Prince Charming, Richard Jaminski. STO LAT! STO LAT! NIECH ŻYJĄ, ŻYJĄ NAM! PHOTO#19
As I end my tale for the month, please remember to pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus daily, but take special note on June 11, the feast day of the patron of the PRCUA; honor our red, white and blue on Flag Day (6/14) and remember Father’s Day (6/20), when we honor all our fathers and other paternal bonds.
And one more thing… HAPPY SUMMER!!!!