Experiencing the changes in temperature and the beautiful displays of yellow, orange, purple and red, we recognize the changes in our own demeanor and perspective on life. We realize that the holidays are just around the corner and although the excitement of these events are a cause for much celebration, they are times of much trepidation. My advice to you – no matter where you find yourself on your personal timeline – is to enjoy to the fullest, each and every moment, and not over-extending your energies pursuing the “perfect” holidays, but the “best” holiday season to date.
On that note, welcome to “Thank You Month.” Long before becoming an American holiday, people the world over celebrated the art of gratitude, i.e. farmers for bountiful harvests (hence, the autumnal season); navigators for safely arriving to their destinations; and all those whose prayers were answered. There is so much to be grateful for – and each year, the list changes, and the more it changes, the more it stays the same. So, what are you thankful for? Was this year a roller coaster ride or a walk in the park? I am grateful that each and every one of you are here on this earth, reveling in all that is good, praying to God for the ills of the world, and living each moment to the best of my ability. Thank you to my friends and family for their love and support, thank you to the PRCUA members for their contribution to PRCUA and its 150-year history, thank you to those who make our world as safe as possible, and most importantly, thank God for giving us the world we live in! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
November heralds so much more than just Thanksgiving. From the onset, there is the three day dedication to the intense spiritual bond of the living and the faithful departed. All Hallows Eve (Oct. 31), All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Days (Nov. 2). “All Saints’ Day is also called Allhallows. Halloween is celebrated the day before, or, specifically, the evening before All Saints’ Day. The word Halloween is a derivative of Hallows Eve. The emphasis on spirits, goblins, witches, and other dark images came about from the supposition that the dark forces were especially active just before All Saints’ Day in order to hinder the prayer for the dead that would be offered the next day. The practice of trick or treating dates back to the Middle Ages when poor people would go door to door begging food in exchange for their prayers for the dead.” (gotquestions.org).
There is also the dual celebration of Veterans’ Day and Polish Independence Day (Nov. 11). Both commemorate the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918. The former pays tribute to all U.S. servicemen; the latter, observes the return of Poland to the map of Europe after 123 years of being partitioned. Other countries in Europe also celebrate the date for the same initial reason but refer it as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.
As for the PRCUA November calendar, some of the events happening are the Zajaczek Graduate Ball (Nov. 4) and the 51st Cinderella-Prince Charming Ball (Nov. 18). Check the calendar of events for other events near you.
Time to reflect on the happenings of October. The long-awaited national celebration of the 150th Anniversary of PRCUA was front and center on a glorious sunny day October 1st. Much like our founders, we ventured outside of our comfort zone and held our anniversary Mass at the parish of Holy Trinity in Westmon, Illinois, whose Pastor, Rev. Rafal Wasilewski CR, and his flock welcomed us. The celebration continued at the Jubilee Brunch at the Drury Lane Theatre and Conference Center in nearby Oak Brook. You can “read all about” in this issue of the Naród Polski which is dedicated to the festivities of this milestone anniversary. I want to thank all those who came and adorned our sesquicentennial event, especially Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski and the distinguished clergy including our National Chaplain, Very Rev. Walter J. Ptak; distinguished guests representing Poland and other fraternal organizations; past and present PRCUA officers; 2023 Cinderella and Prince Charming, Magdalena Truta and Eric Wildhirt, and the Adult Culture Group (Elizabeth Dynowski, President); Southwest Center of Polish Song and Dance (Anna Kraszewski-Winker, Manager; Richard Jaminski, Artistic Director); Wesoły Lud Polish Folk Dance Company (Richard Jaminski, Artistic Director); Polonia Song and Dance Ensemble (Anna Krysinski, Manager; Jaclyn Krysinski, Artistic Director; Mieczysław Dzis, Musical Director); Polanie Dancers of St. John Paul II Polish School (Michael Dziadkowiec, Artistic Director; Monika Stopka, Coordinator); as well as the representatives of the PRCUA sponsored Polish Schools. Special thanks to Alan Krolikowski, an outstanding opera young singer whose voice brings you closer to God with every breath. His singing in church, accompanied by the parish organist, Megan Hassinger, together with “Panna Pszenniczna” sung by Polonia Ensemble, accompanied by Mieczysław Dziś, further enhanced this very special Holy Mass. As for the Jubilee Brunch, the food was amazing as is customary at the Oak Brook Drury Lane and the program, emceed by Elzbieta Sawczuk, showcased the future generation who will carry on our PRCUA mission. From the musical “trio” – Alan Królikowski (voice), Nicole Kwasny (violin), and Youssef El Yakime (piano); to the dancers from Polonia and Wesoły Lud with their energetic renditions of Spisz and Swing, Nowy Sącz and Polka Celebration; with our bridge to the future – the historical video narrated by Sec.-Treas. Agnieszka Bastrzyk, the program was phenomenal. Thank you, performers – you were amazing! I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge an amazing and creative staff as well – from the “coffee table” commemorative book to the program, souvenirs to the ambiance and organization of the ballroom, God bless you Ela, Anusia, Conrad, Betsy, Ania, Kevin, Agnieszka, Julie, Carlos, Marge, Angelica, Zosia, and Mary Jane. Special kudos to Albert Kopinski (Mostly Flowers), Richard Jaminski, Krystyna Królikowski, and of course, Jim and Agnes. Thank you! Dziękuję! Merci beaucoup! Gracias!
Prefacing the 150th Anniversary festivities, was the Opening of the PRCUA Exhibit which was curated by Julita Siegel and the staff of the Polish Museum of America on Friday, September 29. There was a formal gathering of the PMA Officers, spearheaded by President Richard Owsiany; Managing Director Małgorzata Kot; PMA Board of Directors; and the PRCUA Officers, in the PRCUA Boardroom. This reception was followed by a gathering of many friends of the PMA from Chicago’s Polonia who gathered together to celebrate the PRCUA’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary. Thank you to all involved in this tribute to our organization.
On October 3, the PRCUA and PMA staffs celebrated the actual date of the 150th with cake and refreshments, and on October 7. the 1st Annual Pulaski Park Promenade Walk/Bike/Run Event took place, following the wreath-laying ceremony in Hammond, Indiana. Spearheaded by Calumet City Treasurer and PRCUA member Gerry Tarka, the event benefitted the Rafal Kalinowski Polish School in Munster, Indiana. (Yolanta Sosnyka, Principal; Magdalena Sojka, School President). The following day, the festivities continued starting with Holy Mass at St. Andrew the Apostle Church and a wreath-laying ceremony at Pulaski Park in Calumet City, concluding with a luncheon and program at the local V.F.W. 8141 Hall. This was the 28th Annual Celebration of Polish American Heritage Month in the Calumet Region. President James Robaczewski participated in the Sunday commemoration.
Former PRCUA Resident Vice President, Anna Sokolowski, had a chance encounter with former PRCUA Lady Vice President, Lorie Rose Gorny, who just celebrated her 101st birthday in September. While Mrs. Sokolowski was visiting her 100-year old Ciocia Michalina on October 7, she found out that Mrs. Gorny was a resident as well. The two had a happy reunion and Mrs. Sokolowski delivered the message from Mrs. Gorny to say HI to the PRCUA VP. I worked with Mrs. Gorny in 1982, when, as the Lady VP, she and her lady directors hosted the ACPC North American Polish Folk Dance Festival which I coordinated.
The 6th PRCUA National Volleyball Tournament, hosted by the PRCUA Zajączek Dance Ensemble and chaired by Ensemble Director and National Director Colleen Bonkowski, was held at the Greg Grant Sportsplex in Shelby Township, Michigan on October 13 and 14. There were 12 teams in the three divisions participating. Congratulations to the Division Champs and their MVPs, as well as the All Stars. An article with complete photos will be in the next issue of the Narod Polski, but in the meantime, here are the photos of the champions. Congratulations to all the players, with a standing ovation to the Champs!
Immediately upon my return from the Volleyball Tournament, I joined Richard at Our Lady of the Woods Parish in Orland Park, Illinois, for the Baptism of Maya Ewa Kroplewski, daughter of Danielle and Robert Kroplewski and her siblings: Emilia (also Maya’s Godmother), Karolina, Aleksandra, Anthony, Joseph, and Lucas. This 100% PRCUA Family also includes grandparents, Krystyna (past National Director) and Tadeusz Lech, as well as Vickie and John Kroplewski; and immediate aunts and uncles, including National Director Andrew and Patricia Lech and their three daughters, and Ciocia Jola Lech. The ceremony was moving and the party at Crystal Grand Banquets was simply grand – a wonderful celebration of this little child’s special day. God’s choicest blessings on Maya, the entire family and all the friends that gathered together.
Happy 88th Anniversary to the Polish Museum of America (PMA), which was first established as the PRCUA Museum and Archives on October 15, 1935, by the PRCUA Board of Directors, spearheaded by then President Joseph Kania. The PMA is housed in our PRCUA headquarters and from the onset, the mission of the museum has successfully been “to be a bridge between the past and the present, making history and tradition accessible to all.” On behalf of the PMA Chairman of the Board, President James Robaczewski, and myself, the Vice Chair of the museum and your VP, I congratulate the Managing Director Małgorzata Kot, Curator Julita Siegel, President Richard Owsiany and the staff and board members on continuing the mission! Sto lat! Dwieście lat! Trzysta lat!
As Polish American Heritage Month continues, the Illinois Division of the Polish American Congress (Miroslaw Niedzinski, President) hosted its 53rd Annual Award Banquet at Allegra Banquets in Schiller Park, Illinois. Attending the event were the PRCUA Executive Officers and their spouses, as well as representatives of many Polonian organizations and many local politicians. Also attending the event was former PRCUA Resident Vice President, Anna Sokolowski, as a member of the PMA Board of Directors and Director of District 7, Ewa Cholewinski, who serves as the PAC-IL Treasurer. Among the award recipients was the Copernicus Foundation (Hubert Cioromski, Chairman of the Board; Mario Mikoda, President). Mr. Cioromski is a proud supporter of the Polish American Community and PRCUA. The program was emceed by Elźbieta Sawczuk, PRCUA Marketing Director, and Andrzej Krukowski, Artistic Director of Teatr Nasz.” Other than the awards and the beautiful singing by the Collegium Cantorum Polonia Choir (receiving the Arts Award), there was the performance by Andrzej Rosiewicz, Singer and Legend of the Polish Stage. At 79 years young, the artist is “in very good shape, and sings, dances, makes you laugh and moves you with his Slavic soul,” and he has done so since he first took to the stage in 1953. His compositions and music, especially during Poland’s challenging times up until the Solidarity movement, provided much needed comedy relief. He is best known for the his song “Polish Girls Have the Most Vitamins.” Bravo, Andrzej Rosiewicz! Sto Lat!
The Polish American Congress held its annual Council of National Directors Meeting at the Polish National Alliance headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, hosted by PAC and PNA President Frank J. Spula. This was also an election year for the Executive Officers of the PAC. As the PAC National Treasurer, I am honored to run unopposed and hope that the next two years reenergizes this organization as it approaches its 80th year (2024). President Robaczewski and Sec-Treas. Agnieszka Bastrzyk are also National Directors of the PAC representing PRCUA.
As this issue went to print, I wanted to note three events happening on the weekend of October 28-29. At the former, President Robaczewski will be one of the speakers at a conference for the graduating class of the Polish secondary high schools in the Chicagoland area. The conference entitled NEXT – Talks for the Future Generation is hosted by the Polish American Youth Council and will be held in the Martin and Janet Ozinga Chapel on the campus of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois. This conference introduces successful leaders in the Polish community and their career choices. The latter event is the Biennial PRCUA Michigan Cultural Workshop which will be held at the American Polish Century Club of Sterling Heights, Michigan (Thomas Lisiecki, coordinator), and the 5K Run/Walk for Polish Independence in Chicago. The Robaczewski and Bastrzyk families in addition to other PRCUA members will be representing our beloved organization. This cheerleader will cheer from a distance. Photos and details in the next issue.
There are many November birthdays of PRCUA celebrities including former VP Jerry Kucharski (11/16), former First Lady Mrs. Joann Ozog (11/17), former Naród Polski Executive Editor Kathryn Rosypal-Romani (11/22), and, on November 16 – Lidia Kowalewicz, the current Executive Editor of the Naród Polski will celebrate a very special milestone this year – Happy birthday to all! Sto Lat!
I believe that this is my 100th article for the Naród Polski and I would like to thank those who have played a wonderful role in giving me something to write about and to those who have helped with the translations. I would also like to extend belated birthday greetings to Archbishop Wenski (10/18) and wish him STO LAT!
Once again, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!