VP Trish: Have you met our Cultural Commissioner?

A few years ago, Lawrence (Larry) Kozlowski joined the Polish Falcons as our Cultural Commissioner. What a great move that has proven to be! Larry has tons of experience and knowledge which he so graciously shares with all of us.

His workshops have been very successful and all who attend are thrilled! Last year, he was the host of the First Annual Polish Falcons of America Wigilia. The group was so pleased with the program and the reenactment of a traditional Christmas Wigilia. There were quite a few tears as many thought back to their childhoods, their parents and so many wonderful memories. The Wigilia will be held this year on Saturday, December 5. The program will be slightly different this year, but all who attend will be as pleased as they were last year (at least, that is our hope!).

Larry also attends all of our youth events and the kids love him. He engages them and is able to educate them in an entertaining way. This year at camp, he was teaching Polish dancing. When he played the first song, I thought he hit the wrong button. But no, he had a Motown song up first to get the kids moving. His intention was to show the correlation between just dancing and Polish dancing. It worked! Larry can boogie!

Thursday evening, he taught us how to celebrate St. John’s Eve. We were all dressed in togas, wearing wreathes of flowers on our heads (each of the kids had made their own, Shari Pekarovic made mine, thank you!) and carrying a wreath with a candle (there again, I didn’t make mine!). We walked around the huge campfire the older guys had built, as Larry shared the tradition. All then walked to the lake and placed their wreaths in the lake. Surprisingly, the water took them out. Later that night, we were able to see the soft glow off in the distance. Druhna Chris and I each got to release a Sky Lantern that had been signed by all at camp. That was incredible. This was followed by the sharing of the Oplatek. As is usual, there were lots of tears and kind words shared with one another.

Even though not all of us in attendance were of Polish decent, we all enjoyed the Polish traditions. Again, Larry did a fabulous job of explaining and encouraging all to participate!

Larry is available to visit your Nest or District (at our expense) to share his knowledge of the Polish culture. Please contact me if you are interested.


October 17 will be National Day for St. John Paul II

The National Polish Apostolate Committee and the Saint John Paul II National Shrine are hosting a National Day of celebration of the legacy of Saint John Paul II on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. The observance will take place at the National Shrine of St. John Paul II in Washington D.C. This event will be celebrated annually closest to October 16, the day Karol Cardinal Wojtyla was elected to the See of St. Peter in 1978.

St. John Paul II left an enormous wealth of teachings on the meaning of life, value of the family, purpose of living, human dignity, and the formation of character of young people, etc. In his pastoral journeys, John Paul II always had a message for the Polish community and emphasized that his religious and Polish cultural heritage served him well to govern the Universal Church.

Under the leadership of Adam Cardinal Maida, Polonia in the United States, together with other constituencies, played a major role in establishing the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. Its dominant purpose was to promote the legacy of Pope John Paul II in the United States. The Polish American community was very instrumental and supportive of this endeavor. With the dawn of the great recession and other factors, the Center was acquired in 2011 by the Knights of Columbus, who assumed the challenge of perpetuating and assuring that the purpose and mission of the Center would endure for generations to come.

Pope John Paul II was canonized in 2014. Upon the request of Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, DC, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) designated the Center as the National Shrine of Saint John Paul II in the United States.

The Knights of Columbus have invested substantial financial resources and established a museum worthy of one of the greatest Church and world leaders. The museum is a tribute to a Polish Pope, Saint John Paul II. The artistic arrangements of the exhibits amplified by the latest technology present the life of Karol Wojtyla as a student, priest, bishop, and pope in an engaging and captivating manner. His life, which was greatly affected by Nazi occupation and Communist rule, is portrayed with vivid reality. The difficult conditions of his life, his deep personal faith and a solid doctrine prepared him to be a spiritual leader, statesman and pastor of the world who led the Church for twenty-seven years.

Source: Polonia Media Network

Getting to know Andrzej Duda

Polish Americans may know by now that Andrzej Duda defeated Bronislaw Komorowski in Poland’s May, 2015, presidential election. But, it is not surprising that they may not know much about him; he has not been in the political forefront recently.

Andrzej Duda, a 43-year-old conservative lawyer, has strong ties to the powerful Kaczynski twins.

The devout Catholic was close to the late president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in 2010, and calls himself his “spiritual heir.”

However, Duda only became well-known after Lech’s twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a former prime minister and current leader of the Law and Justice (PiS) conservative opposition party, crowned him presidential candidate.

PiS is the main opposition party to the governing centrist Civic Platform (PO) that has been in power since 2007, following a two-year PiS government.

Born in 1972 in the southern city of Krakow, Duda was a choir boy and Boy Scout in his early years before earning a law degree from the Jagiellonian University.

When PiS came into power in 2005, he was named Deputy Justice Minister, a job he gave up in 2008 to become an aide to Lech. He was elected to the Polish parliament in 2011, then to the European Parliament in 2014.

Duda has promised voters numerous social benefits in fiery campaign speeches, including introducing extra tax exemptions for large families and lowering the retirement age, which the PO government had gradually pushed back to 67 years. Some observers believe his pledges would be too much for the Polish economy to bear. “His promises go well beyond the powers of the president and his generous economic proposals could even ruin the (much larger) German budget,” said Radoslaw Markowski, a political scientist at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Others are confident it can be done.

In terms of foreign policy, Duda wants to strengthen ties with the NATO western defense alliance, amid security concerns over Russia’s activity in neighboring Ukraine. “The best course of action for Poland would be to have U.S. troops stationed on its territory. It’s the only way to guarantee the country’s security,” he said.

Duda says he opposes Poland’s entry into the Eurozone “so long as the standard of living of Poles remains below that of Germans or the Dutch.” Incumbent Komorowski also suggested care before adopting the Euro.

Like Poland’s Catholic Church, he also opposes in-vitro fertilization and came down hard on the 2011 Istanbul Convention, the world’s first binding legal instrument to prevent and combat violence against women, which Poland ratified last month.

Duda crisscrossed the country wooing voters and, five days before the first round of the election, won the support of the Solidarity trade union.

He is in favor of amending the constitution to make referendum proposals backed by at least one million signatures automatically go ahead. The parliament can currently veto proposals, and does.

Duda is married to a teacher, Agata, and has one daughter. His father-in-law is the Polish writer, poet and literary critic Julian Kornhauser.

Source: Polonia Media Network

Johnstown Slavic Festival

From 1880 until 1920, thousands of Slavic immigrants came to Johnstown, Pennsylvania to find employment in the area’s steel mills and coal mines. By 1920, 25 percent of Johnstown’s residents were of Slavic descent. They created a rich network of churches and social clubs to support their way of life and culture.

With the decline of the steel industry, Johnstown went through tough economic times in the 1970s and ‘80s. Many people found it necessary to leave the community. Johnstown’s ethnic organizations suffered. Today, many young people want to know about their ethnic heritage, and the culture and history of their Slavic ancestors.

The goal of the Johnstown Slavic Festival Committee is to create a new program that educates residents of the western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio region about their heritage. The first Johnstown Slavic Festival will be held during the summer of 2015. The group plans to present authentic Slavic music, Slavic folk dance performances, homemade Slavic food, children’s learning areas, educational speakers and exhibits, workshops, and ethnic vendors. A full day of entertainment and education is planned.

The committee is co-chaired by Dan Kisha and Dr. Gerald Zahorchak. The Slavic Festival Committee is seeking to add committee members, and plans to become incorporated. The Johnstown Area Heritage Association will provide technical and management support for the Johnstown Slavic Festival.

The date of the first Johnstown’s first Johnstown Slavic Festival will be announced in the near future. The Slavic Festival will be held in and near the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center, a former brewery building located in Johnstown’s Cambria City historic district. The Heritage Discovery Center houses an interactive exhibition titled America: Through Immigrant Eyes that puts visitors in role of being a recent Slavic immigrant to Johnstown 100 years ago. The Cambria City neighborhood of Johnstown was the city’s principal immigrant settlement area.

By enhancing the region’s knowledge of these lively peoples through a joyful, family-friendly experience, the Slavic Festival Committee hopes to honor the shared past of our beloved ancestors by educating and enriching the lives of a future generation.

Admission to the Johnstown Slavic Festival will be free. The Slavic Festival Committee wants a large number of participants – descendents of Slavic families and the general public – to attend. The cost of presenting the event will be around $15,000. Sponsorships are being sought to offset the costs of the event.

Numerous respected organizations, churches and businesses from Johnstown and the western Pennsylvania area have already enthusiastically signed on to support and participate in this effort. These include the City of Johnstown, Slovenian Savings & Loan, Johnstown Welding & Fabrication Industries, Somerset Trust Bank, Sokol USA, Slovak Catholic Sokol, and many others.

The Johnstown Slavic Festival website has just been placed online for all to see at: http://www.johnstownslavicfestival.org.

Please explore our website to see photos, maps and information regarding not only the festival, but also general information which may begin your journey learning more about your ancestry and the beautiful places in Europe from which your Slavic ancestors originated. We will also work year-round to provide information regarding local and regional Slavic ethnic performances, picnics, and festivals on our http://www.johnstownslavicfestival.org website pages and our Johnstown Slavic Facebook page.

For additional information, contact Daniel Kisha at daniel.kisha@prodigy.net.

Kosciuszko Foundation Scholarships for Study in Poland

The Kosciuszko Foundation is accepting applications for summer study programs at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to earn college credit while studying language and courses such as history, literature, and contemporary Poland.

Students of Polish descent have the opportunity to apply for funding to attend a 3-week program at the Jagiellonian University via the Foundation’ s Tomaszkiewicz-Florio Scholarship. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age by the first day of the program and have a high school diploma. Undergraduate students are also eligible. Two letters of recommendation, transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 3.0, an essay, and financial need are part of the requirements for scholarship funding.

Three-week classes begin in July and in August. Programs include language classes, afternoon classes on Polish history, workshops, Polish traditions, 3 meals a day, a shared room, and sightseeing on weekends. Singles rooms are available. Airfare is at the student’s expense.

Additional details regarding how to apply for a scholarship and further details regarding courses may be found at www.thekf.org/kf/programs/study/.

Click here to download an informational flyer.