Another month has come and gone, and spring is on the horizon. I envy those in the warmer climates as in most cases, your winter weather is comparable to our late spring. In any event, I will enjoy the sun when it smiles upon us and accept the rain and/or snow as nourishment for the earth and all its blessings.

March celebrates Women’s History Month, Pulaski Day (3/4 in Wisconsin and 3/6 in Illinois and Indiana), International Women’s Day (3/8), St. Patrick Day (3/17) and St. Joseph (3/19). In 2022, this third month of the calendar year boasts Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (3/1); Ash Wednesday (3/2); Employee Appreciation Day (3/4); the 46th Fashion Show hosted by the Adult Culture Group of PRCUA (3/6); PRCUA Malbork Dance Recital, Grand Rapids MI (3/12); the PRCUA National Basketball Tournament hosted by Society 162, Wyandotte MI and PRCUA Zajaczek Polish Folk Dance Ensemble Recital, Warren MI (3/19); PRCUA Gwiazda and Halka Recitals (3/27). Looks like life is getting back to normal. (Side note: Happy birthday to my granddaughter Ariana who will be six years old (3/4), former Secretary-Treasurer Josephine Szarowicz and daughter Joy (both on 3/17), Kayla Leonhard (3/24), Jacek Jaminski (celebrating 50 on 3/26), and all who celebrate their special day in March. STO LAT!

February was an interesting month for watching the excitement as well as the drama surrounding the Olympics that were held in Beijing, China. Overshadowing the triumphs of the athletes was the “Covid positive – Covid negative” question. If the viewing audience was confused as to what was going on, I cannot imagine what the athletes who spent years training felt – nerves are one thing, but the uncertainty another. We heard or read about the complaints from the Olympians who were quarantined. “Protests about isolation conditions and protocols have piled up in Beijing with athletes complaining about the food, their mental health, testing and confusing procedures around being allowed to leave.” (Reuters). I was happy that among all the games I watched, I was able to see ski jumper Dawid Kubacki win the bronze medal for Poland.

While on the subject of the 2022 Olympics, it brings to light the future handling of group events while the pandemic, although seemingly winding down, is still with us. How will events such as this summer’s International Festival of Polish Folk Ensembles (fondly known as the Rzeszow Festival) going to handle outbreaks within the immediate circles of the participants? The Rzeszow Festival is to be held in mid-July for five days with a limited number of dance groups, and all participants, age 17 and up, must possess a Covid passport (Vaccination record). The deadline for submitting the application is March 15. Wishing the organizers and participants all the best. This would have been the 13th Rzeszow Festival for Wesoły Lud.

Now to the question of the moment – “to mask or not to mask?” The ultimate decision rests on the shoulders of the government health agencies. But as the mask mandates slowly lift, the decision rests on the individual. It is not my intent to persuade one side or another, but I wanted to share an observation made by two teachers. It is their philosophy (no doubt shared by many others) that they will continue to wear a mask in support of any students that are encouraged to do so by their parents. One, in particular, shared with me the story of her student whose mother recently underwent open heart surgery. The child wore her mask to protect not only herself but her mother whose immune system is compromised. None of us know who else is being protected when wearing the mask, so let us exercise kindness and understanding.

February was “Zabawa” month from the start (2/5) there were two within the PRCUA circles – Zajączek Dancers in Michigan and Maria Konopnicka Polish School in Illinois. At the latter event, both National Directors from District 8 – Elizabeth Dynowski and Myron Cislo – represented the PRCUA.

On the 19th, St. John Paul II Polish School hosted its Mardi Gras Zabawa where the School’s Polanie Dancers performed. Michael Dziadkowiec is the Artistic Director and Choreographer with dance instructors: Dominika Gornikowki, Patricia Szyrzyna, and Camilla Steczek. Representing the PRCUA was National Director from District 8, Myron Cislo.

The month ended with a “grande finale” – the 31st Shirley Ann Galanty Michigan State Ball at Crystal Gardens Banquet Center in Southgate, Michigan. The choreographer of the artistic program was Kelly Malinowski and together with the committee composed of the School Directors of all the Michigan Schools, organized another enchanted evening upon which dreams are built. Congratulations to all the graduates, their parents and families, school directors and dance instructors. It is said that “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Please see the photo attached in the slideshow for the conclusion of my narrative.

The past month also brought its share of sadness as family and friends bid farewell to their loved ones. A true PRCUA family, the Cwiaks and Robaczewski’s, mourn the passing of John F. Cwiak, 64, beloved husband of 39 years to Barbara (nee Robaczewski); devoted dad of George; brother of Mary Jane Robles (Executive Assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer), as well as Aloysius, Daniel, Joseph and the late Ronald; cherished brother-in-law of Michael and Patricia Robaczewski and James and Elaine Robaczewski; and uncle to many including Madia Robles (PRCUA IT Associate). Barbara and John shared a love of sports and polka dancing and in 1976, John was Barbara’s escort at the Cinderella-Prince Charming Ball. John worked in the PRCUA Print Shop in his teens. As the story goes, John’s mother worked at PRCUA also. Condolences to the entire family and his friends. 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. 

From the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, PRCUA relied on the medical guidance of Dr. Marek Rudnicki, a renowned general surgeon in Chicago, a prominent figure in the city’s Polish American community and recently, a candidate for Poland’s Senate. For more than a year, he contributed his medical knowledge in monthly articles specifically for inclusion in our Naród Polski. In the early hours of Sunday, February 6, the unthinkable happened in Chicago’s South Loop. The son of Dr. Joanna and Dr. Marek Rudnicki, Jacek, was fatally shot and the car he was driving stolen. Jacek was only 44 years old. He was a business consultant and an avid bicyclist. The Mass celebrating his life was held on February 12 at the Basilica of St. Hyacinth on Chicago’s north side, attended by family, friends, representatives of the Polish government and Polonian organizations. On behalf of the Officers and Members of the PRCUA, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to his parents, his sister and all who knew and loved Jacek. May he Rest in Peace.

On a lighter note: two Polish WWII Resistance fighters, Ireneusz Rudnicki, age 100, a veteran of the Home Army, and Danuta, age 95, a nurse in the Warsaw Uprising, met after the War, at a meeting of a Catholic organization for young Polish emigres. This March, they will celebrate 71 years of marriage.

Congratulations to Wesoly Lud alumni, Kalina and Luke Gorczyca, on the birth of their third child, Olivia Maria, on February 18, 2022. Siblings Elliana and Elius together with Wujek Michael Dziadkowiec (PRCUA Sales Coordinator), grandparents and great-grandmother welcomed the new addition with open arms.

In conclusion, I came across an article that was a reminder that Lent is not simply giving up sweets. 10 Simple Suggestions for a Successful Lent by Joseph Pronehen from the National Catholic Register: Mass and regular confession is a given. Read the Bible; attend Mass daily (or frequently); go to Eucharistic Adoration; complete a work of mercy; pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet; put together a list of those to pray for; make a mini-pilgrimage; delve Into spiritual reading; make simple sacrifices; pray the Stations of the Cross. May the upcoming Lenten season be a time of spiritual renewal.

At the time of my article print deadline, the world faced Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Our prayers are directed for the peace and security of the Ukrainian people. God protect Ukraine and its people!