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July 31, 2003 ...


"Rooms Free" in Zakopane

by Edward Kornowski
Part V- My Adventures in Poland
We are traveling by car to the southern most part of Poland, and I must say perhaps the most beautiful part. Approaching the town of Zakopane we see the Tatra Mountains in the background, a site worthy of a postcard!
The word "picturesque" cannot fully describe the scenery. Along side the roads are many tall haystacks, very typical to this locale. Entering the town limits we begin to see people, the hustle and bustle of a tourist resort. At each turn we see a person holding a sign that reads "Pokoj Wolny," this means "Free Room."
My daughter asks if they are "free," and I explain that they have a vacant room. As it turns out our "Free Room" cost us about $53 USD per night. We stumbled across a deal, basically getting a small apartment that had a Jacuzzi in the bathroom! I'm sure this room would command more if it were high season.
After a good night's sleep in the fresh mountain air, we head out to explore the area. Zakopane is a ski resort in winter, it is similar to Ellicottville, NY, but only with ten times more people. The main street is closed to cars, and tourists walk among the shops and sidewalk cafes.
Our main interest here is to ride the cable car to the top of Mount Kasprowy-Wierch. Since it's early in the day we only needed to wait about a half hour to board the lift. The trip to the top takes about 20 minutes.
At the halfway mark you must switch over to a second cable-car. Along the way you are whisked over the tops of tall pine trees. What a peaceful ride. As we traverse over the rocky cliffs we see snow still lying in the rocks! Yes, SNOW, on the 10th of June. It's about 80 degrees out and there are still patches of snow. Our ears are popping from the elevation.
We reach the end of the line where there is a gift shop-cafe. Outside there is a small set of stairs leading to the very top portion of the mountain. We climb the stairs, and I get short of breath from very little exertion. We are at the altitude of approximately 6500 feet above sea level. This is higher than the city of Denver, which claims the title of "Mile High City"
We enjoy the view, and take a few pictures, then enjoy coffee and cake in the cafe while staring out at the tops of other mountains in the distance. Some visitors go off hiking and exploring. I'm told there is a small lake located up here somewhere. After buying some postcards and souvenirs, we ride down to begin the second part of our day.
We now drive our car about 35 miles to the town of Sromowce-Wyzne. Here we will take a two-and a half hour raft ride down the Dunajec River. The rafts are made of wooden pontoons, and can carry nine to 12 passengers. They are guided by two górale boatmen per raft.
The ride along the river twists and turns through the Dunajec gorge traveling perhaps 15 miles. The water pushes us along swiftly, at times it seems fast but not scary. It's not like white water rafting. It's more gentle and serene. We stare up at the high rock walls of the gorge.
On one side of the river is Poland, the other is Slovakia. During a portion of our trip we actually float into a portion of the river that is entirely in Slovakia. Then we come to the area where the river flows back into Poland. There is even a Polish border checkpoint, but we on water have nothing to declare, and just glide slowly past.
When the raft trip finishs, we board a private shuttle bus for our return trip to our car. Once back in Zakopane, we went strolling along the main street and dined on pizza and beer......Zywiec of course! The sounds of street musicians fills the mountain air. What a wonderful and busy day we had. I can't wait to get back to the room and try out that Jacuzzi.


Perils of populism: Continuing problems with democracy

by Agatha Glowacka
In all nations that make the transition from an autocratic form of government into a democracy, there are set patterns that emerge in this volatile period. One characteristic almost always present is the rise to financial and political power of a group in society that used to make up the elite in the old system. Even if the worst offenders are punished, there is always a sector of people who profited under the old system, and with their financial capital, experience, skills, and network of people, they will inevitably rise to the top in democracy.
This is what the SLD Party in Poland represents – a group of old communists who were able to achieve great economic successes in the privatization process and had enough organizational experience and network of acquaintances to form the biggest and most powerful group in politics today. On the surface, they seem to have steered Poland well and their most obvious success is Poland’s accession into the European Union. However, underneath this pretty surface lies a mess of corruption, incompetence, and shady dealings that have grown to a dangerous erupting point.
A democracy is a paradoxical system of governing because of the inherent conflict between the equality of democracy and its liberal ideals and the competitive inequality of capitalism. James Madison, one of America’s founding fathers, recognized this when he wrote while setting up America’s democratic system, “What we feared the most is that economic power would try to seize democratic power.” Such a conflict must be strictly managed by set guidelines and stern separation between public and private spheres.
The SLD Party has failed to uphold such a separation and much of the corruption and dismaying scandals that erupt regularly are due to the personal business interests of the politicians, who are motivated by their own pockets rather than by the welfare of the state. The citizens are not unaware of this, either, and the media does a good job of publicizing and informing the public of the corrupt practices of their elected officials. However, this seems to have little effect and often punishment is slow, which serves to only frustrate the electorate even more. This elite group of politicians, who stick together and support each other and their own particular interests, has enough power to stave off the attacks and dodge any serious repercussions.
With no real consequences awarded to these corrupt politicians, the public is increasingly dismayed, discouraged, and frustrated. According to polls, one third of the population now believes that conditions were better under communism; 70% believe Poland is heading in the wrong direction; and one fourth claim that they would prefer rule by someone with a strong hand. The very democratic institutions that should empower the citizens, such as the Sejm and Senate, currently receive approval by one out of every ten Poles. A whopping 71% believe politicians are all bribed.
Such mass discontent is dangerous as much as it is typical in transitioning countries. As I mentioned earlier, this pattern of an elite group of businessmen-politicians is common in transitioning states, and the common response is an emergence of populist and extremist parties. A democracy is not perfect and one of its greatest perils lies in the very foundation of its being – the power of the people. When there is discontent among the masses, they can be easily fooled and manipulated by extreme populist groups.
One of the most alarming is the Samoobrona (Self-Defense) Party in Poland that is steadily growing in support. This group had a little under 1% popularity in April 2001, but by April 2003 it had achieved 17% support of the population! This party is nationalistic, extremist, racist, and incompetent to rule. It appeals to the “injured simple folk.” The reason for its popularity is typical of all populist groups – they give easy answers to the tribulations that people are going through and promise easy and quick solutions.
They are gaining more popularity by pointing out the corruption of other politicians and the drastic 18% unemployment rate, but this is all self-righteous moralizing since they are a clique within themselves and have been known to deal in corrupt affairs. And, they do not offer any answers to the unemployment problem. Their constituency is the one-third of the population that believes that Poland has fallen into ruin and ruled by foreigners, with Poles having no control. This group blatantly ignores reality and facts but it cannot similarly be ignored since it makes up one-third of the public!
The remainder of the populace is discouraged by tales of countless corruption, ineffective justice system, bureaucracy of overpowered incompetence. When Poland enters the EU, this will most likely make her more vulnerable to populist groups like these. There are tough times ahead for her in the transition to the Union, difficult changes that were glossed over in the hype for the YES referendum. The public will become very vulnerable when the rude awakening hits and the high expectations that such pro-EU propaganda instilled will be unmet.
If an election were to take place now, the polls predict that the majority in Parliament would be gained by Samoobrona. What is the proper response in a situation like this? If elected, such a group would limit democratic freedoms due to their racism, nationalism, and bigotry, but they would be rightfully elected. Some argue that in such a case, there must be steps taken to prevent such an occurrence from happening. They warn that even Hitler was democratically elected and point out that repressing his election could have done a lot of good. On the other hand, this would fundamentally compromise the very ideals of a democracy.
The other side argues that in this case, the populists should be allowed to come to power, however painful and damaging it might be. At least afterwards, the populace will have learned from the consequences. However, there is no telling what disastrous results may emerge from such prospects.
When I asked my professor what the proper course should be, he aptly replied, “None. The situation should never be allowed to even get so bad as to require such a choice.” He is right, but what happens when things deteriorate and this choice must be made? Hopefully, it will not come to this in Poland and things will stabilize before the populists come to office.


Local choruses, soloists thrill Cleveland with Gorecki’s St. Stanislaus BM Cantata

Buffalo’s recent choral tribute not ing the 750th anniversary of the canonization of Poland’s first saint, Stanislaw Szczepanowski, the martyred Bishop of Krakow, was repeated in part before a large and appreciative audience in Cleveland on Sun., July 28.
Sixty-five singers representing Buffalo and Hamilton singing societies of the Polish Singers Alliance of America contended with travel delays and downpours to perform an early-evening musical program coordinated by the host parish’s director of music and liturgy, David Krakowski.
The magnificent Church of St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr, in the Warszawa section of Cleveland’s rejuvenated Slavic Village, like our Buffalo pioneer Polonia parish, was organized in 1873. Staffed by the “Brown” Franciscan Fathers of Pułaski, Wisconsin, it is on the roster of national historic sites due largely to the recent $1.5 million renovation efforts spearheaded by their tragically-murdered pastor, Rev. William Gulas OFM, who died last December.
Opening with the traditional trumpeters’ hejnał by the North Coast Brass Ensemble, the choristers of Paderewski, (John Henninger, director), Kalina (Piotr Gorecki, guest director), Chopin (Dr. Thomas Witakowski), and Symfonia (Hamilton, Ontario) were joined by the Cleveland parish’s choirs in a procession of a hundred singers from the church entrance.
Following Polish, Latin and English selections by the individual choruses sung before the main altar, accompanied by grand piano and organ, the program featured Mr. Gorecki’s dramatic 20-minute masterpiece, the Cantata of St. Stanislaus BM. Sung to the Polish text by Franciszek Lach, it was directed from the choirloft by Dr. Witakowski and accompanied by the composer at the keyboards of the church’s 1909 Schuelke pipe organ. Baritone soloist Andrew Kowtalo and soprano Johna-Rachel Johnson joined bass soloist Dr. Witakowski in duet. A standing ovation and floral tributes were presented to the principals.
The musical evening closed with the Cleveland choirs’ and Brass Ensemble’s fanfary Czestochowskie, and Benediction by Rev. Joachim Studwell, OFM, with the relic of St. Stanislaus BM, which was presented to the Cleveland parish by Pope John Paul II when he visited in 1969 as Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Kraków.
A sumptuous dinner, prepared by the ladies of the Cleveland choirs, brought the too-short meeting of Buffalo and WNY singers to a close. Daniel J. Kij, national president of the PSAA, acknowledged Mr. Krakowski’s efforts in bringing together singers from Harmonia Chopin (organized 1902) and others, and his parish’s generosity. It was suggested that similar events be staged in the future, and CDs be made for participants.
submitted by Daniel J. Kij

July 11, 2003 ...


Grand Island man recalls fellow employee at Solvay Works - Karol Wojtyla

by Edward S. Wiater
Often, men and women work in their early years only to find out much, much later that one of their co-workers attained some modicum of fame. But, there are few, very few who can make such a claim on such a grandiose scale as can Edward Piszczek.
Piszczek worked with non other than Karol Wojtyla, the same man who was destined to become one of the most powerful men in the world as Pope John Paul II.
Of course, Piszczek says, he had no idea that this fellow worker would ever become a bishop and then cardinal much less a pope.
"It really is something when I think back to those difficult World War II years," Piszczek says recalling the days of German occupation. "I never worked directly with him but always in the vicinity and, as I look back now, there was something special about him."
Piszczek said that Karol, the future pope, would be found a lot in prayer. And, he seemed to have silent leadership quantities.
The now Pope John Paul II worked at the Solvay Works, a limestone quarry Piszczek said. Karol had several different jobs and when he was transferred to the main factory, Piszczek began working there, too, as an apprentice electrician
"I was too young to take part in any of the discussions the older men had," Piszczek said recalling the tense moments when, it is now obvious, plans were being made to disrupt the German war machine. "But, I had a part. I was always called on to be a lookout."
Piszczek said he and Karol would exchange simple words every now and then. In the spring of 1941, Karol was transferred to the factory boiler room where he carried huge pails of caustic soda to large holding tanks filled with water.
"He was always busy studying or praying," Piszczek said of Karol Wojtyla. "If he forgot what he was supposed to be doing, co-workers would remind him. His boss would never interrupt him if he was standing or praying.....At that time, I could not understand why everybody was so watchful, so careful that no harm came to this quiet, meditative man. He always brought a slice of bread with him. Someone would always give him a sandwich or soup. He would just raise his eyes and thank them. He frequently spent time in the laboratory for warmth and quiet until reminded to return to his job. In 1942, he became active in the underground theater."
After the Warsaw uprising, the Germans were seizing people whom they thought had any part in the uprising, Piszczek recalls. He said he himself hid for days in a potato field where he even slept. Karol escaped, too, and went underground as a seminarian.
"During his decision making as to becoming a priest, Karol visited a small wooden church in the village of Borek Falecki," Piszczek says. "The Borek Falecki site served as a center for the underground resistance with the main warehouse serving as an arms and ammunition depot for the underground army."
Then the Soviets came into Poland in 1945.
"You could always tell when the Russians were going to go on attack," Piszczek says. "Just before the attack, every soldier would get a cup of horrible smelling vodka."
After the war, Piszczek worked numerous jobs but most of the time as a firefighter. He worked in Kraków and Wroclaw for a while and then in 1946 he escaped the Soviet clutches and emigrated to the United States. eventually stopping where he now lives ? Grand Island.


Family fun on tap at Festival's Heritage Tent

by Glenn Gramigna
The sights and sounds of Poland and Polonia will come alive in the Heritage Tent at Cheektowaga's 25th annual Polish American Festival next weekend.
After Squeezebox II (see story on page 9) takes center stage Sat., July 19 in the Heritage Tent from 1:30 p.m. till 3:00 p.m., Larry Kozlowski will come on at 4 p.m. with a hands-on demonstration of Polish Palm Weaving as well as a little historical background on the subject. While it's true that there is virtually no palm weaving done in Poland, Kozlowski points out that the custom does indirectly date back to the Polish tradition of marking the coming of spring with pussy willows and evergreens.
"The story is that there were no pussy willows here or possibly the Polish nuns were forbidden from using pussy willows by bishops who were of Irish or German descent, so these nuns started weaving palms to look like pussy willows," he said. "A number of rituals grew up around them and they became an important part of our culture. I hope to share what I know about all of this with people and also help them to learn to palm weave themselves."
A lover and practitioner of Polish-American crafts since his childhood in the Pittsburgh area, Kozlowski is the author of several books on the subject including "Easter Eggs Polish Style," "Celebrate Easter Polish Style," and "Christmas Ornaments Polish Style." Along the way he's made many trips to Poland where he won the Ministry of Culture's Oskar Kolberg Ethnographic Award in 1987 for his work spreading the beauty of Polish folk arts around the world. These days he gives many workshops and classes, working with such institutions as the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Niagara University's Castellani Art Museum.
Saturday at 5 p.m. Am-Pol Eagle columnist Barbara Frackiewicz will demonstrate the technique of making Polish Papercut Applique Easter Eggs.
"The first type of papercut applique eggs I learned to make are called wydmuszki or 'little pitchers,'" she recalls. "These beautifully decorated miniature pitchers are a traditional Christmas tree ornament. I learned to make them from an aunt who often spent holidays with us from the time I was about 10."
More recently, she has taught workshops on Polish heritage and holiday folk arts for the past 20 years throughout Erie and Niagara counties. Her work has appeared at the Polish Community Center in Buffalo, at Buffalo State's Butler Library, and in the Henry St. Settlement House in New York City. She frequently teaches paper cutting to local school children through the Young Audiences of WNY program as well as in her "Polish Kid's Corner" column in the Am-Pol Eagle.
"What I will be seeking to do in the Heritage Tent is to teach people things they can go home and start doing themselves," she promises. "The important thing is that these folk arts be passed on to future generations."
The Sunday afternoon festivities in the Heritage Tent will begin with childish screams of delight as Henia Makowski and other experts teach the youngsters on hand how to play with traditional Polish Easter eggs.
Children will learn three different games, all played with hard boiled eggs which they can then share with their families next Easter. But, that's not all!
Between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, all children attending will be given a booklet beautifully illustrated by Frackiewicz. The booklets, which will be given out free at the information table in the vendor's tent, will guide them through various artists' stations. As the children complete their activities at a particular station, their booklet will be stamped to show what they have done.
At 4 p.m. there will be "Tips for Gorgeous Easter Eggs Using A Simple Drop and Pull Stylus" offered by Kozlowski and Michael Hnat. The pair will explain that there are a number of different techniques for coloring Polish Easter eggs, including the use of cut paper, straw, wax, and the batik or stylus. While Hnat notes that his family first started using the wax method because "there just wasn't enough room around the table" for all of them to use other methods, your family might want to learn all the methods just for fun.
Since he moved to Buffalo from Livingston, NJ, Hnat's annual Easter appearances at the Broadway Market have resulted in "more sales than (he) could ever imagine."
Now festival goers too can learn the skills that have made him a stellar practitioner of these valuable but nearly lost arts.
Finally, at 5 p.m. Irene Grassman will demonstrate both the Polish and Ukrainian methods of making Wax Resist Easter Eggs. Long before she was old enough to make them herself, Grassman remembers being fascinated by the brilliantly colored pysanky her mother decorated in the style of the western Ukraine. In her teens, she improved on the skills she had learned as a child by taking classes offered by the Rochester branch of the Ukrainian Women's League, Now considered a master artist and teacher, Grassman has demonstrated the art of the pysanky at festivals, libraries, and craft shows throughout Erie and Monroe counties, including annual trips to the Ukrainian Youth Camp in Ellenville, NY.
"This year's Heritage Tent will be divided into a section devoted to folk artists, a demonstration area, and an area just for kids and their families," says Frackiewicz, who serves as one of the organizers. "It will be a chance for everyone to have some fun and learn about some important crafts that are a part of our heritage. Did you know that both the great artist Henry Matisse and Hans Christian Anderson, the writer, did paper cutting? Maybe it's time for your family to give some of these crafts a try too."

July 03, 2003 ...


Bring in more lawyers!

by Agatha Glowacka
The average citizen in Poland is progressively less able to understand the laws and regulations of their own country. An article in the Polish news magazine Polityka calls the laws in Poland, the new "art of black magic."
People are complaining that two generations ago, every reasonably intelligent citizen could read and understand the laws; now, this has changed as the laws have begun to be populated with legal jargon and their own language. One reason for this increasing complexity of laws is the predisposition of parliament to issue new regulations. Due to the plethora of various documents and forms to fill out for everything from buying a home to insurance, everyone now needs a lawyer to get anything done. Supposedly, though, even lawyers have trouble knowing the law in the fields outside their specialty.
Perhaps part of the blame can be put on the increasing complexity of life, with more areas that need to be covered by new regulations. Similar increases in laws have been present in other modern democracies. However, increases in the complexity of laws usually go hand in hand with an increase in lawyers. A lawyer holds the responsibility to explain, inform, and interpret the law for the citizen. Yet, in Poland, getting a lawyer is not that easy. In the past ten years, the number of cases taken on by the courts rose by 300%, but the number of lawyers increased only by 5%.
The largest problem is the extremely high cost of lawyer services. According to the Helsinki Human Rights Foundation, roughly half of the Poles jailed for life sentences did not have a lawyer during their trials. This seems unbelievable, especially since according to the law, every citizen is guaranteed access to a lawyer provided by the state if he cannot afford one. But the severe shortage of advocates makes this impossible. There are only 13,000 advocates, the same amount as in Holland which is 1/7th the size of Poland.
Why is there such a shortage of advocates in Poland? This is directly due to the lawyer cap that exists in the country. Anyone can attend law school and pass the examination, but only a select number of students gain acceptance into the law association (or lawyer guild) and receive a license to practice advocacy. Unfortunately, the selection is usually corrupt and those with money or connections undoubtedly gain licenses. This number of advocates is kept purposefully small because it drives up the demand and raises the rates for the service. Thus, the situation is created in which not only are there not enough lawyers, but their services are abnormally high.
Why is this so important? The average citizen is left not knowing his own rights, what is allowed and what is illegal, and has limited access to a lawyer who can help. Without such knowledge, there is no sense of justice or faith in the rule of law. Such a situation does not foster a strong judicial system, which Poland sorely lacks. Furthermore, an overproduction of laws without proper oversight encourages corruption.
If you look at the opposite end of the spectrum, that of the United States, you see that the average citizen is very aware of his/her rights. Although criticized for being so litigious and "sue-happy," the preponderance of lawyers has created a situation that favors the citizen knowing the full extent of the law. In their own self-interest, lawyers have ensured that the majority of citizen rights are followed by pointing out instances where citizens can sue if the rules have been broken.
Translating this example onto Poland, if there were more lawyers, then it would be in their own self-interest to ensure that the laws produced by the government were followed, and capitalize on those instances where laws were broken by suing. This would foster a strong sense of the rule of law and cut down on corruption.
The judicial system is a branch of government that rarely draws attention but it may just hold the key towards cleaning up Poland?s ever-present problems of corruption and helping her establish a stronger democracy.
Unfortunately, it does not look like there is any hope for change. The lawyer association strongly defends its practices and refuses to enlarge, arguing that this ensures high quality of talent. There are strong lobbying groups that convince politicians not to change the current regulations. Meanwhile, the citizens are vainly trying to master this "art of black magic" on their own, and floundering in the vast black hole of laws, rules, and regulations.


Monument dedicated to Poles faithful to the very end in the struggle for freedom, peace and justice

by Edward S. Wiater
It's there.... a big, beautiful Polish white eagle etched in black marble in the Heroes Walk section of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park on Buffalo's waterfront. It proclaims to all that Poland's courageous men and women fought and died in World War II for Poland's freedom and ours.
With American and Polish banners waving in a cool lake breeze during a bright sun-filled day, his Excellency Bishop Henry J. Mansell of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese blessed the stone memorial after extolling the courage of the Polish people. He praised Poles who battled on all fronts in WW II and those who with incredible resolve knocked out Nazi forces from atop Monte Cassino. A hill, he said, he climbed without being shelled and could only imagine what it was like to fight for seven days on those bloody slopes.
The battle for Monte Cassino was a crowning victory for the Allies in Italy but, it was bought with the blood of thousands of Poles in Gen. Wladyslaw Anders' 2nd Polish Corps. The abbey was pulverized by Allied bombers. But, the heralded "Unconquerable Gustave Line" was still controlled by the elite German 1st Parachute Division until the Poles dislodged the Nazi forces and raised the red and white Polish flag atop the mount at 10:20 a.m. May 18, 1944.
When the battle was over, the hillside was covered with red poppies made all the brighter red by the blood of Polish soldiers. As reported by Maria Jaworska in an earlier Am-Pol Eagle feature, 923 Polish soldiers died in the battle, almost 3,000 were wounded and 145 are still missing in that action.
The scene gave rise to the song "Czerwone Maki Na Monte Cassino" (Red poppies on Monte Cassino), a poignant song which was rendered powerfully in a solo by Dr. Thomas Witakowski. He also directed the Chopin Singing Society in singing the Polish and American national anthems, "Boga Rodzica Dziewica," and "America the Beautiful."
Krystyna Nieduzak sang the hauntingly beautiful "Zal Szopena" (Chopin's Sorrow.) accompanied by Dr. Witakowski. When Dr. Witakowski was singing or directing the Chopin Singers, the accompanist was Vita Binder.
The main address was given by Janusz Krzyzanowski, national commander, Polish Veterans of WW II, SPK, who reminded all that it was the first time in history that the armed victors were not allowed to return to their home.
"After defeating the Germans, the Polish armed forces that fought at the side of the Allies on land, on the seas and in the air were not allowed to return home by decree of the communist regime imposed on Poland with the tacit approval of the Allies," he said.
"The Polish soldiers did not despair," Krzyzanowski said. "They changed their uniforms for a civilian attire, organized themselves throughout the world, formed organizations such as the SPK World Federation and continued fighting for free Poland in all possible ways."
Poland is now free and Krzyzanowski cited the efforts of Polish veterans including the work done by Buffalo SPK Post No. 33 in the fight to free Poland.
Etched under the big eagle is the battle scene of Monte Cassino. Wording on the banner held by the eagle are the words "Bóg, Honor, Ojczyzna" and under that are these words:
"This memorial is dedicated to the members of the Polish armed forces who gallantly participated in active combat on land, high seas, and in the air. These brave men and women fought for your freedom and ours alongside the Allies on the western front, as well as in Poland as the underground home army and intelligence gathering network."
Under that are these stirring words:
"Passerby, tell the world that we were faithful from the beginning to the very end in the struggle for freedom, peace and justice for all mankind."
The SPK Post 33 commander's son Dr. Thaddeus Nieduzak talked briefly on "The Greatest Generation" concluding with one of the most revered passages in Polish literature:
"If I forget about them, you, God in heaven, forget about me."
The floral wreath was placed at the base of the monument by Krystyna Pienkowska and Stefania Kurczaba.
Numerous veteran organizations provided men in uniform and standard bearers. The playing of Taps concluded the program.


Cantata to St. Stanislaus was beyond description

by Edward S. Wiater
If you missed the special Sunday program at St. Stanislaus Church in observance of the 750th anniversary of the canonization of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr, don't look here to find out exactly what happened.
The Cantata to St. Stanislaus sung by four combine choirs was such a magnificent program that this reporter doesn't have words to adequately describe it.
The music to the cantata, truly a monumental work, was written by Peter Górecki. The words are by his friend Franciszek Lach. Górecki played the organ music Sunday to his cantata. Dr. Thomas Witakowski, did an absolutely masterful job in directing four Polonia choirs who responded to every move demanded of them by Dr. Witakowski.
You had to be there to fully appreciate something like this which usually comes only once in a person's lifetime. The program was presented by Polish Singers Alliance of America District IX Choirs.
The choirs sang individual numbers in the program leading to the combined choirs finale. They included St. Stanislaus Choir, Ignacy Jan Paderewski Singing Society, Kalina Singing Society and Chopin Singing Society, each singing two or three numbers.
The St. Stanislaus choir left its mark with "Przeczysta Dziewica." The Paderewskis were stunning in "Czarna Madonna" while Kalinas impressed with "Adoro Te, O Panis Coelice."
The Chopin Singing Society drew the biggest applause of appreciation for its rendering of "Regina Coeli" in which Susan Malik and Shirley Byczynski sang the duet.
The powerful cantata was made even more powerful by strong solo performances by Chopins' Dr. Witakowski, Johna Rachael Johnson and Andrew Kowtalo.
Msgr. John Gabalski, PA, St. Stanislaus' pastor, concluded the program with the benediction.
The choral group took part in refreshments in the Msgr. Adamski Hall where it was revealed it was Peter Górecki's birthday. Cake was served amidst a chorus of happy birthday and sto lat.
You may have paid big money to see Phantom of the Opera. Górecki's haunting cantata rivals anything sung in the Phantom performance. And, Sunday it was free.

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