Welcome family and friends to the 11th month of the year which boasts for Catholics – All Saints Day (11/1), for Poles and the Polish Diaspora – Polish Independence Day (11/11) and for Americans – Veterans Day (11/11) and Thanksgiving (4th Thursday of November). All Saints’ Day is a Holy Day of Obligation. In Poland, it is one of the most significant and solemn holy days of the year with a reverent tradition of gathering at loved ones’ graves, adorning them with flowers and lighting candles in their memories. Every year, the cemeteries in Poland are aglow with candles which when the sun sets “forms a dreamlike quality and a sense of serenity.” At this time, let us remember in our prayers, all our family and friends who are at eternal rest, especially those who have recently passed: Jan and Józefa Bochnak (parents of Bozena Matson), Lucia Seranko (wife of Bill Seranko), John M. Adams (husband of Cinderella 1978 Janice Rejman-Adams), Józef Sikora (stepfather of Ewa Cholewinski, Director D-7) and my very dear friend, Stanley Pelc. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, Rest in Peace. Amen. Our deepest condolences to the spouses and families of these souls.
In 1918, Poland regained its independence after 123 years of nonexistence on the political map of Europe. Poland’s Independence Day was established in 1937 and was celebrated only twice before World War II began. After the fall of communism, Poland’s Independence Day was reinstated and celebrated once again beginning in 1989.
Veterans Day honors all military veterans of the United States Armed Forces (Memorial Day celebrates those who died in military service). “Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect.” Although still referred to as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other countries of the world, it was renamed in the U.S. in 1954. To our Veterans – thank you for your service!
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in many parts of the world at different times, but here in the U.S., the holiday dates back to 1619, but most associate the holiday with Native Americans and Pilgrims of the 1620s and 1630s sharing their harvest. “Thanksgiving comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man, it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.” (Edward Sandford Martin). Each household has its own traditional foods, many centering around a turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and apple or pumpkin pie, but it is not about the food, it is about the people who gather to give thanks to God for bringing them together. Hope your Thanksgiving is a happy and healthy one! Smacznego!
There are some special upcoming November events which celebrate our PRCUA members. November 6, the Indiana Division of the Polish American Congress will award the Raphael Kalinowski Polish Language School from Munster, Indiana, as well as former Principal (currently the teacher of the school’s senior class) Małgorzata Czachor, past School Board President Monika Otworowski, and Artistic Director and Choreographer of the school’s Mała Polska Dance group, Agata Wilgocki. I will share details and photos of the honorees with you in the December issue.
On November 19, the Adult Culture Group of PRCUA will host its 50th Cinderella-Prince Charming Ball. In 1969, the Women’s Department of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCUA) organized a program for adults, instructing them in traditional Polish folk dances and promoting Polish culture throughout Polonia. Those credited with its initiation were: PRCUA Lady Vice President Stella M. Nowak and National Directors of Districts 7, 8 and 9 – Lorie Rose Gorny, Regina Ocwieja and Helen Kucharski, respectively. They named it the Adult Culture Group (ACG) of PRCUA. Regina Ocwieja had a dream of “serving the youth of the PRCUA” and together with the other members of the ACG, established the Cinderella-Prince Charming Ball – the first one was held in November of 1972. An original member, Sophie Tarnas, introduced me to the ACG (and to PRCUA), Mrs. Ocwieja and Mrs. Martha Kwiatt in 1976, and the rest, as they say, is history. I cannot wait to be reunited with past Royal Couples and Candidates, past members of the ACG, and applaud a new group of Candidates. Mrs.Ocwieja has often been called a mentor, but I believe she is our Fairy Godmother, making dreams come true for those who support her legacy. Regina Ocwieja wore many hats within her beloved PRCUA – National Director, Insurance Supervisor, Lady Vice President. Born in a different generation, she could have been President. “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you fall in love,” (from Disney’s Cinderella). Mrs.Ocwieja truly loved her Polish culture, the youth and the young at heart. Best of luck on a successful ball to the Candidates, Committee and Guests!
Also on November 19, the Zajączek Dance Ensemble (Colleen Bonkowski, School Director) will honor its Graduates at their Presentation Ball in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Those being honored are: Alyssa Brown, Brooklyn Hess, and Joseph Tanner. Congratulations to the Graduates!
Polish Heritage Month within the lovely month of October – began with a family trip to Konow’s Corn Maze in Homer Glen, IL with the granddaughters and their beloved Dziadzia. I do not know a better way to enjoy the beautiful autumn season than with two high spirited 5 and 6 year olds. We ended the day with kiełbaski at our private ognisko followed by smores.
On October 2, President Robaczewski attended the 27th Annual Polish American Heritage Month Celebration in the Calumet Region. Cal-City Treasurer Gerald Tarka chairs the event which this year began with a wreath-laying at Pulaski Park followed by Mass at St. Casimir Church in Hammond, Indiana. A second wreath-laying was held at Pulaski Park in Calumet City with an authentic all-you-can-eat Polish buffet at the newly remodeled Cavalier Inn of Hammond, Indiana. The PRCUA Mała Polska Dancers of the Kalinowski Polish School performed at the event. Congratulations Gerry for spearheading this event! Bravo Dancers!
Also on October 2, but in Detroit, Michigan, the Polish Heritage Mass at St. Albertus Parish officiated by PRCUA Chaplain Walter J. Ptak, was attended by the Rogalin, Halka, Tatry and Ząjączek PRCUA Dance Schools together with past and present National Directors from District 10 – Barbara Raczynski-Toboy, Tom Lisiecki, Colleen Bonkowski and Valerie Brumm.
On October 3, the Officers and Employees of the PRCUA and PMA commemorated the 149th Anniversary of our beloved PRCUA. Instead of singing STO LAT, we sang DWIEŚCIE LAT!
The Polish Teachers Association celebrated their 70th Anniversary with Holy Mass at St. Hyacinth’s Parish in Chicago on Sunday, October 9. Secretary-Treasurer Agnieszka Bastrzyk attended on behalf of the PRCUA. Sto Lat to the Association and heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all Polish Teachers! National Teachers Day in Poland was celebrated October 14.
Also, on October 9, the Polish Museum of American and the Filipino American Historical Society of Chicago hosted Journey Chicago 2022: Taste of 2 Cultures at the PMA with an exchange of folk dances (PRCUA Wesoły Lud performed) together with Filipino Dancers and the audience was treated with delicacies of both ethnicities.
Polonia Song and Dance Ensemble has been extremely active this October. On October 7, there was a performance at the 25th Anniversary of the Polish Lancers Association (Stowarzyszenia Przyjaciół Ułanów Polskich im. Gen. Tadeusza Kościuszki). Then on October 8, Polonia Ensemble with its 115 dancers and various age groups were the opening act at the concert of the renowned Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble from Poland. On October 11, Polonia Ensemble was again front and center, marching in the Columbus Day Parade in Downtown Chicago together with the Illinois Division of the Polish American Congress. With Anna Krysinski, the Ensemble’s Executive Director; Jaclyn Krysinski, Artistic Director and Choreographer; Mieczyslaw Dziś, Musical Director; and a team of Choreographers and Dance Instructors, Polonia has found a way to withstand the difficulties of the pandemic and move successfully forward with its mission. I applaud the innovative and creative leadership, but also the parents and dancers, for without their cooperation, the Ensemble would not achieve the success it continues to have. Bravo, Polonia!
On Friday and Saturday, October 14 and 15, PRCUA Society 261 hosted 16 teams at the 5th PRCUA National Volleyball Tournament. Society President and Chair, Tommy Lisiecki, and his committee held the event at the Greg Grant Sportsplex in Shelby Township, Michigan. Congratulations to the Coed Champs – St. Rita’s Block Party; Women’s – St. Rita’s Balls Up; Men’s – Val’s Volleyballers (#1593). Kudos to Mirek Cislo, Director D-8, who brought three teams from Chicago and came in second in the Men’s and Women’s Division. The Zakopane Team ranked #2 in the Coed Division. Thanks to all who played, cheered, cooked, cleaned, and prepared! Look to the next issue of the Naród Polski for details and more photos.
As part of the Chopin in the City Festival, the 6th edition of the Painting Chopin event took place at the Polish Museum of America on October 16. Participants painted to Chopin’s music presented by the Konrad Pawelek Polonia Orchestra. Guests were welcomed by founder of the festival, Grażyna Auguścik, from the Sounds and Notes Foundation; Painting Chopin organizer, Patrycja Stępniak; Managing Director of the PMA, Małgorzata Kot; and PRCUA Marketing Director, Elżbieta Sawczuk. PRCUA sponsored the event which through music, inspires creativity, transferring feelings onto canvas, and instilling in young artists a love for art in various forms.
President Robaczewski, Sec-Treas. Bastrzyk and I attended the Polish American Congress Council of National Directors meeting at the PNA Headquarters in Chicago on October 19-20. Special guest speakers included the Consul Generals of both Poland and the Ukraine, Paweł Zyzak and Koledov Serhiy and Bishop Piotr Turzyński, a Delegate of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for pastoral care of Polish emigration.
PRCUA President and PMA Chairman James Robaczewski and A Bastrzyk attended the Polish Museum of America’s commemoration of the 130th Anniversary of Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s first visit to Chicago at the Glessner House on the near south side of Chicago on October 22, 2022. PRCUA was a gold sponsor of this beautiful event. Mrs. Antonina Paderewska-Wilkońska, embodied brilliantly by the very talented Barbara Kożuchowska – actress and PMA tour guide – welcomed the guests of this event in two groups, describing in great deal how her brother, the great Ignacy Paderewski came to love Chicago, visited the Glessner’s and other important sites of Chicago, such as the PRCUA. Paderewski became friends with the Glessner’s and played in their home on numerous occasions. The piano played by Paderewski is in the Glessner House and was played by the pianists of the evening – songs performed beautifully by Miroslawa Sojka Topor, accompanied by Kamil Bundyra and piano compositions of Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Chopin expertly played by Youssef El Yakine.
The PRCUA Gwiazda Dance School received the Pulaski Medal of Honor and Pulaski Award for excellence in maintaining and promoting Polish culture from the Polish American Central Citizens Committee at its 49th Pulaski Day Banquet on October 23 in Detroit, Michigan. Accepting the Award was School Director Jessica Urban and Choreographer Basia Nowakowski. Congratulations on receiving the distinction and wishing you continued success! Representing the PRCUA at the festivities and past Pulaski Award recipients were D-10 Director Colleen Bonkowski, Tom Lisiecki, Laura Hejza, Donna Skurski, Nicholas Nowakowski, and Bob Bielenda, as well as D-10 Director Valerie Brumm and Celeste Grabowski.
The PRCUA Employee Appreciation Luncheon (themed Superheroes) was held on October 28 at which all employees were honored with special recognition to Mariola Wysocka for her 20 years of dedicated service in the Audit Department. Thank you Mariola for a job well-done and cheers to many more years.
This issue of the Naród Polski will be sent to the printer before the last event of October as the Polish American Congress Illinois Division Polish Heritage Banquet will be held at Allegra Banquets, Schiller Park, IL and this year will honor our PRCUA President James Robaczewski with the Heritage Award. We congratulate our President and will provide photos and details in the next issue of the Naród Polski.
Every month as I prepare to write this article, I wonder what the inspiration will be to make it interesting and informative. Although at times quite lengthy, I would rather have too much than not enough. I never have to look far for inspiration, especially with such an active Polish Community. Wherever there are Polish people, there will be activities, and if somehow, none are found where you live, be the person that makes it happen. To those celebrating November birthdays (past Resident Vice President – Jerry Kucharski, Lidia Kowalewicz, Sally Klamerus, Kathryn Rosypal-Romani, Joann Ozog, Danuta Czajkowska, to name few) HAPPY BIRTHDAY! STO LAT!
Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Veterans Day! Happy Polish Independence Day! Happy November!