Most of us are pretty familiar with the Polish song, “Jak szybko mijają chwile, jak szybko płynie czas.” [How quickly moments are passing, how quickly time goes by…). Here we are in October and as beautiful as the Autumn Season is “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall” F. Scott Fitzgerald.
October is synonymous with Polish Heritage Month so WELCOME TO POLISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH! According to Wikipedia, Polish American Heritage Month was originally in August, starting in 1981. The concept was initiated by Michael Blichasz, President of the Polish American Cultural Center in Philadelphia because of the numerous Polish cultural events held throughout the U.S. during this summer month. In 1984, lobbying efforts by the Polish American Cultural Center, together with the Polish American Congress, resulted in House Joint Resolution 577 which designated August as Polish American Heritage Month. In 1986, the month was changed to October in order to encourage U.S. schools to celebrate Polish American Heritage during the school year. October is also the month in which the first Polish settlers arrived in Jamestown, VA and the time that many Polish American organizations honor Casimir Pulaski, who died in October of 1779.
In 2016, my friend Staś Kmieć authored a piece for the 100th Anniversary of the Pol-Am Journal entitled, “100 Things Every Polish American Should Do.” I love the ideas and grouping them together for reference. With permission from the author and PAJ Editor, Mark Kohan, I direct you to the prcua.org website for the full list. And don’t forget to add:
#101 – sign up a new member to the PRCUA – best thing you can do for Polish Heritage Month, the future PRCUA, and the success of Polonia! How? Through PRCUA whole and term life insurance and annuity products!
#102 – Ages 3-18 can enter the PRCUA 2021 October Polish American Heritage Month Coloring Contest. See pages14-15 of the October edition of Naród Polski.
#103 – PLEASE ATTEND THE UPCOMING 41st PMA GALA – IT WILL BE VIRTUALLY AMAZING. Check the Polish Museum of America Facebook and website (polishmuseumofamerica.org) for the link. It’s your ticket to this spectacular event! Serdecznie zapraszamy!
In any event, celebrate being a proud Polish American in October and throughout the year!
August and September were busy months for weddings. On August 15, 2021, National Director (D-5) Mitchell Bienia and his wife, Krystyna, celebrated the wedding of their daughter Krystyna to Eliezer Morales Santiago at St. Stanislaus Church, Cleveland, Ohio. A social Polonaise was performed, beginning with the bride and her father, then the groom, members of the family and guests joined in. The peacock themed wedding added another element of the Bienia’s rich Polish heritage. Best wishes to Krys and Eli! PHOTO #2
On August 28, 2021, Richard and I attended two weddings. Victoria Gavaghan and Mateusz Bomba were married at St. Hedwig’s Church on Chicago’s north side and as alumni of Wesoły Lud Dance Company and Polonia Ensemble, respectively, there was a “cast of thousands” with both dance groups paying tribute to the newlyweds at the Church as well as at the reception. Sparks flew when Vicky and Mateusz performed a lovely first dance as wife and husband. As the poem goes, “Marriage is a dance between two people, to a song they hold in their hearts, whose melody may at times be a whisper, yet never fades away” Lara Harris. Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Bomba! (FYI: Mateusz is one of our PRCUA New Business Associates). PHOTO #3
The intimate setting of Wedding #2 was in the town of Marengo, Illinois. There Christina Wisniewski and Sandro Palomares exchanged vows in the presence of their nearest and dearest. Christina is the daughter of Wesoły Lud alumnus Richard Wisniewski and his wife, Jane. We wish the lovely couple a long and prosperous marriage! PHOTO #4
On September 4, 2021, the lovely Natalia Kowalewicz wed Petar Pesic at St. Thomas Beckett Parish in Mount Prospect, IL. Natalia is the daughter of PRCUA Narod Polski Editor, Lidia Kowalewicz, and her husband, Dariusz. Best wishes to the new Mr. and Mrs.!
September 18, 2021, was another popular wedding date for Wesoly Lud alumni – Elizabeth Kopinski (daughter of alumnus Albert Kopinski and his wife Mary) married Rafal Dlugopolski at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Lemont, IL. A unique blend of the music and singing of a Góralska kapela and the exquisite talents of singer and musician Mirosława Sojka-Topór added a lovely accent to the wedding. The newlyweds invited the Wesoły Lud to perform Liz’s favorite suites – Spisz and Country Western Polka – and four of her bridesmaids including her matron-of-honor as well as four former dance partners (all WL alumni) surprised the bride by performing a waltz. May you live happily ever after! PHOTO #5.
On the same day and in another part of the city, (another WL alumna) Veronica Rogala (daughter of Teresa and Edward Rogala) married Dr. Jason Stoklosa at St. Hedwig Parish in Chicago, IL. The reception was at the prestigious Hyatt Regency Chicago. “Poprawiny” – day #2 of the Polish wedding continued in Lemont, IL. Best wishes to Dr. and Mrs. Stoklosa! PHOTO #6.
Another WL alumnus and former Prince Charming Robert Bukowski who married Cristen Kendrick at the Oak Brook Hills Resort and Conference Center. PMA President Richard Owsiany and his plus-one, Anna Wytrzymalski, attended the wedding and reception. Congratulations to the newlyweds!
On September 14, Brenda Bruce and Mark Fontaine, two avid supporters of the Polish Museum of America, graced us with their presence. They brought with them four original historical maps of Poland dating between 1656 and 1799 from historian Tadeusz Gromada’s personal collection and a substantial donation to the PMA together with an ad for the upcoming 41st Virtual PMA Gala. PHOTO #7
It was my pleasure to share my birthday celebration with President Jim Robaczewski (his birthday was August 30, but he was recuperating from surgery) at a joint luncheon with both PRCUA and PMA employees. Special thanks to my Chief-of-Staff Conrad Wiecek and the President’s Executive Assistant Anna Grabowski for organizing the delicious food, scrumptious dessert and decorating (also Natalia Hofmann and Agnieszka Dobrzycki). I am humbled and grateful for all the beautiful flowers, gifts, cards and wishes. Thank you and Bóg zapłać! PHOTO #8.
The Adult Culture Group hosted its Candidate Luncheon for the upcoming Cinderella-Prince Charming Ball on Sunday, September 19, 2021. With close to 25 candidates, the 49th Ball is sure to be a success. Save the Date for November 20, 2021! PHOTO #9
On the same date but all the way in Sterling Heights, Michigan, PRCUA Sales Coordinator Michael Dziadkowiec participated in a “Meet and Greet” with the PRCUA Michigan School Directors, Sales Agents and National Directors, Colleen Bonkowski and Valerie Brumm. It’s nice to put a face with a name!
PRCUA President Robaczewski was honored by the Congregation of the Resurrection at the annual CR benefit dinner on September 26 at Café La Cave in Des Plaines, IL with the “Vision of Hope Award.” With both his family and PRCUA family in attendance, Jim humbly accepted this award which “embodies the spirit of the Resurrection of Society Partner(s) in the work of the Resurrection Fathers and Brothers; provides service to the Catholic Church, and offers years of faithful dedication to the many apostolates of the Congregation of the Resurrection.” On behalf of all the Officers, Directors, and Members of the PRCUA, I would like to extend our sincere congratulations to Jim Robaczewski on receiving this award! We are all so proud of you! (And what a nice birthday gift to your wife! Happy birthday, Elaine). For photos and details, please see page 1.
I would like to acknowledge the generous contribution of the late Irene Dewicki whose obituary was in the September issue of the Narod Polski. Irene passed away on August 5 and in lieu of flowers, her family suggested memorial donations to, among others, the PRCUA. In communications with her daughter, Nancy Dewicki-Campbell, all such donations would be distributed at the upcoming Shirley Ann Galanty Michigan State Ball in the form of scholarships in memory of Mrs. Dewicki for the Graduates. Rest in peace, Irene, and may God bless the Dewicki family!
Our sincere condolences to the family of Krystyna Chciuk, a pillar of the Polish American community in San Francisco, California, who passed away at age 95 on September 4, 2021. Pani Chciuk was instrumental in establishing a Polish Folk Dance Group (Łowiczanie), a Polish School, the Polish Scouts, as well as Polonian organizations. She was decorated by the Republic of Poland on several occasions for serving in the Polish and Allied armed forces during World War II. One of her three daughters, Gosia Niemiec, is my forever friend – we met at Alliance College when in our mid-teens and our friendship grows stronger. Pani Chciuk and her family will be in our prayers!
As this article comes to a close it will be on a bittersweet note. We mourn the passing of another great lady of Polish Folk Dance in America, Władysława “Pani Ada” Dziewanowska, in July of this year, at the beautiful age of 104. Until a few years ago when she moved to California to live with her son Jaś and his family, Pani Ada spent many happy years in Milwaukee as the Artistic Director and Choreographer of the Syrena Polish Folk Dance Ensemble. During her life, Ada conducted folk dance workshops throughout the United States and Canada, leaving her imprint on the heart and soul of many dancers. She had a twinkle in her eyes and a smile that would inspire you to be better, do better and never give up. On September 24, a Celebration of Life Mass was held at the magnificent Historic Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, concelebrated by the Most Reverend Jerome Listecki, the first Polish Archbishop of Milwaukee, and Reverend Mike Hammer. The reception that followed was held at the Polish Center of Wisconsin and, according to her wishes, there was food, drink, music and dancing. Cheers to Pani Ada, may she live long in our memories! PHOTOS #10,11