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October 27, 2003 ...

Poles fete their pope’s silver jubilee

Robert Strybel,
Warsaw Correspondent
WARSAW — The 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate was marked in Poland by a lavish outpouring of love and affectation. The third and so far most festive Papal Day kicked off a week of celebrations that included concerts, exhibitions and other commemorative events to mark the occasion. Papal Day was set up by Poland’s Roman Catholic Church to fall on the Sunday preceding Oct. 16, the date of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla’s 1978 election to the papacy, to promote his teachings long after he has gone on to his eternal reward.
The most lavish Papal Day celebrations were held in cities associated with Wojtyla’s life and work: his birthplace of Wadowice, Czestochowa, which he has called his “earthly homeland”; Kraków, where he served as bishop and archbishop; Warsaw, his country’s capital and the Vatican, from where he has led the world’s one billion Roman Catholics for a quarter of a century. Special Masses of thanksgiving were celebrated around the country and scholars gathered at symposia to discuss the Holy Father’s life experiences and philosophy. Orchestras, choirs, folk groups and soloists serenaded the pope from outdoor stages, as thousands of Poles sang along, often holding hands and swaying to the rhythm of the pontiff’s favorite hymns and tunes. There were balloons, waving flags and banners saluting Jan Pawe³ Drugi and wishing him well. Live TV beamed the festivities to millions of Poles in living rooms across Poland.
The broadcast was interspersed with documentary footage of the pope’s election and pilgrimages to Poland and other countries as well as live chats with Vatican officials, professors, his former colleagues, friends, students and neighbors. Some 100,000 volunteers took to the streets of Polish cities collecting funds to assist in the education of gifted but financially disadvantaged youngsters from economically distressed parts of the country. The fund-raiser, organized by the Polish Episcopate featured the slogan “Let’s share our love” and reflected the pope’s concern for the underprivileged.
In brief remarks beamed live from the Vatican to his countrymen in Poland, the Holy Father said: “Pan Bóg dal mi doczekac 25 roku pontyfikatu. Bóg zaplac Bogu, Bóg zaplac ludziom. Szczesc Boze!” (“God has allowed me to live to see the 25th year of my pontificate. Thanks be to God, may God repay the people. God bless you!”) Although in frail health, his voice seemed a bit stronger and the hint of a slight smile could be detected on his strained and pained face.
A theme echoed by churchmen and scholars alike was the fact that his inspiration led to the emergence of Solidarity, the collapse of the iron curtain and an end to the cold war. In the years that followed John Paul II always placed the need of solidarity and sharing with the world’s less fortunate above personal greed, and peace and dialogue above the wars some felt were justified.
“If there is anyone alive who deserves this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, it is the Holy Father,” Solidarity founder and former Polish president Lech Walesa said on Polish television after the award went to an Iranian female human-rights lawyer. The pope is widely believed to have been bypassed because he does not share today’s trendy Western views on abortion, divorce, priestly celibacy, female ordinations, birth control and euthanasia.
Also, in Poland, it is widely held that Poles love their pope, welcome him like a national hero or folk icon, but do not necessarily follow his teachings. In his staunchly Roman Catholic homeland, petty crime and high-level corruption are rampant, premarital sex, marital infidelity, drug abuse and divorces are spreading.
"The Holy Father never expected to turn his homeland into a land of angels,” one churchman close to the pope said. “We are all weak and foolish individuals prone to stumble and go astray. But, John Paul II keeps giving us hope. The hope that we can and should improve things and become better — better parents, children, workers or employers, kinder and more sensitive to the needs and sufferings of others.”
That theme resounded in the bouncy song with which Poland’s popular Catholic children’s group “Arka Noego” (Noah’s Ark) serenaded the Holy Father on his silver jubilee. One stanza goes: “Short and tall, fat and skinny, big and small, we can be saints one and all."

Bishop Edward Grosz named pastor

In one of his last official appointments as Bishop of Buffalo, Bishop Henry Mansell named Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz, D.D., as pastor of St. Stanislaus Church on Townsend St., in Buffalo last Thursday.
The announcement came shortly after the funeral of Msgr. John Gabalski, PA, who was pastor at Buffalo's mother church of Polonia since 1978. Bishop Mansell was named this week to head the Archdiocese of Hartford, CT.
Bishop Grosz who celebrated the Mass for St. Stanislaus parishioners the night before Msgr. Gabalski's funeral, called that Mass "One of the most powerful liturgies I've celebrated." He said people came up to him at that time and told him they were praying that he would be named their pastor.
In Niagara Falls, Bishop Grosz was pastor of Holy Trinity Parish and St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish for 7 years. He said, "I will miss the people.... It was a very tight-knit community." Thinking aloud about his farewell, he added, "I don't know how I'll handle it this weekend. It's going to be very hard. I don't know what I'll tell them."
Bishop Grosz had success in Niagara Falls revitalizing the parish communities, restoring parish properties and bringing a sense of hope to the neighborhood.
As pastor of St. Stan's, Bishop Grosz says he will be meeting with the parishioners shortly to discuss how they will interact. The options include a parish council, town hall meetings or "coffee cloche." He said he would be praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance.
The big question, he said is: "What do we do today to make sure the parish is here tomorrow?" He added that it will be important to "stay focused on the vision."
Bishop Grosz acknowledged that much has changed in society today but that their "vision" would be their guide. "They love their God, their church, their family life. We need to say church is a part of life," he said.
Bishop Grosz will also become the head of the Southeast Vicariate of the Diocese of Buffalo. The post was formerly held by Msgr. Matthew Kopacz. Bishop Grosz said he has been praying that God would "use whatever talents I have for the good of the community. I bring my gifts, my talents to this community both as vicar and as priest."

October 06, 2003 ...

Defining the Holocaust results

by Edward S. Wiater
A festering World War II wound — the definition of the term "Holocaust" — has broken open so wide with a resignation of two prominent members of the National Polish American-Jewish American Council that the NPAJAC is considering a national conference in 2004 to discuss among other issues the Holocaust definition.
NPAJAC is a prime dialogue group involving Polish-Jewish World War II issues.
The turmoil inside the NPAJAC was revealed with the resignation from the council of Bozenna Urbanowicz-Gilbride, a seven-year member. Urbanowicz-Gilbride's resignation was followed by that of fellow member Justyna Ball.
According to Urbanowicz-Gilbride, the Council in a letter told her in effect her teachings of 13 years are invalid because she considers herself a Catholic Holocaust survivor and the NPAJAC doesn't.
Urbanowicz-Gilbride received the Council's position after she had given a presentation "Teaching the Holocaust in U.S.A." in which she referred to herself as a Polish Catholic Holocaust survivor and what she has learned in 13 years of teaching (in schools, temples, churches, and schools here and abroad) about the Holocaust.
Urbanowicz-Gilbride was born in Leonowka, Poland. During World War II, she was interned in two slave labor camps. Her mother was also a captive in two concentration camps.
After coming to America in 1947, Urbanowicz-Gilbride joined numerous groups which dealt with the Holocaust including the Nassau County Holocaust Commission. She was accepted into the NPAJAC in 1997 after getting numerous awards from Polish and American groups for her work on the Holocaust.
After having read her resignation, the Rev. John Pawlikowski, NPAJAC member from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, is reported to have said the USHMM recognizes only the six million murdered Jews as victims of the Holocaust. The five million other murdered victims have a "special" place in the museum, he said.
To this Urbanowicz-Gilbride responded, "I know that special place. It is in the back of the room where you are to sit quietly and speak only when you are spoken to. As a Polish Catholic Holocaust survivor, I do not wish to be separated from my fellow co-victims be they Jew or gentile."
Urbanowicz-Gilbride had sharp words for other NPAJAC actions. She cited long discussions after Father Jankowski's homily in Poland on Jewish affairs but "barely two minutes" given to Rabbi Friedman's insult of Pope John Paul II and his advice to Jews not to hire Poles as maids and not patronize Polish doctors or lawyers. She said the time allotted for each discussion was "not fair."
Urbanowicz-Gilbride also charged that when Polish NPAJAC members tried to bring up the story of Koniuchy where Jews killed Poles during the war, the issue was "quickly dismissed" by other members.
Urbanowicz-Gilbride also cited e-mails from the Council of stories which praise Poles but almost always included references that Poles and Poland are anti-Semitic.
"We Poles could not write anything but compliments about Jews," she added. "Anything else would constitute anti-Semitism."
The issue of being forced to remain quiet, because saying anything no matter how factual about Jews would target you for anti-Semitism charges, was expressed in a sharply worded letter by Ms. Ball.
The Holocaust "industry" does not exist there (in Poland), she wrote. "What seems to the Americans and others as Poland's silence on the subject is easily explained. Poles believe in truth and open forum that allows both sides to discuss. When the Jewish side constantly accuses Poles, it (Jews) must be prepared to talk about the activities of Jews that are not necessarily positive."
Poles she said want to talk about everything but "Jewish people only want to they are the only victims.... Any attempt by Poles to start fair discussion causes an accusation of anti-Semitism to appear with no criticism of Jews so Poles have to keep quiet. That intellectual terror has been going on for decades."
In defense, the NPAJAC in a statement signed by co-chairs Martin I. Bresler and John J. Pikarski Jr., blamed the press. They said the "Council's actions and discussions have unfortunately, but not surprisingly been falsely characterized in the press."
Recent statements to the press and elsewhere "are not only a distortion of the record of the Council but more important, are a disservice to the very goal of the two communities learning to communicate with each other in a spirit of mutual respect," the Council's reply said.
Acknowledging the term Holocaust has been an issue for more than five decades. The Council added, "In light of the discussions within the Council.....the Council has recently established a committee charged with finding appropriate approaches for constructive- discussion over the use of the term Holocaust.
"One such approach under consideration is the convening of a national conference in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2004 that will bring together Polish American and Jewish American community leaders, as well as leading scholars and historians, to discuss the matter."

Savannah to honor General Pulaski

A Pulaski Commemoration, including a parade, will take place in Savannah, GA, on Fri., Oct. 10. This and other events are leading up to 2004 and the Solemn Military Funeral which will be held in concert with the re-interment of General Pulaski's earthly remains. Then a carved oak casket provided through the generosity of the people of Poland will be placed within a vault being constructed at the base of the newly restored Pulaski Monument.
An Ecumenical Prayer Service and Memorial Service for Iraqi War Casualties will be held at 10 a.m. at the Catholic Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. It will be open to both the military and general public. The service will include the blessing of the "Pulaski Banner" replica to be presented to the Pulaski Jubilee Committee by the Pulaski Cadets.
Attending for the Ambassador of Poland to the United States will be Mirosław Luczka, minister counselor, and Col. Janusz Bojarski, Defense & Air Attache.
A memorial wreath laying and the playing of taps will talke place at 2 p.m. near the site where Pulaski was wounded in battle at the then Spring Hill Redoubt followed by a military gun salute. (The 1779 Battle of Savannah was the second bloodiest in the American Revolutionary War after Boston's Battle of Bunker Hill.)
A solemn march will begin at 2:15 p.m. Participating will be the Pulaski Jubilee membership, U.S. Army units, government officials, veterans groups, Polish organizations and historic associations. They will march along the route first followed in connection with the dedication of the Pulaski Monument in 1854. There will be a Riderless Horse Ceremony and Period Costumed Reenactment Appearance by Brigadier General "Count" Casimir Pulaski.
In Monterey Square at 2:40 p.m., participants will join in the Pulaski, Cavalry, Banner, & Monument Commemorative/ Memorial Services including the ceremonial display of colonial state flags, the flag of Poland and certain other states and the playing of the respective national anthems and patriotic songs. That will be followed by the tolling of the bells of Savannah for Pulaski and Revolutionary and other war dead.
Memorial wreaths for the Revolutionary and other war dead will be placed around the base of the Pulaski Monument
A Military Gun Salute to Pulaski, U.S. Cavalry soldiers and all other U.S. military who have sacrificed themselves in battle by giving life and limb on behalf of Liberty, including those wounded in Iraq will follow.
By the U.S. Army Rules Of Protocol, "Pulaski 2003" is being accorded full "Ruffles & Flourishes" status as a major event of both national and international importance. The recent return home of tens of thousands of area military from Iraq to Savannah's Hunter Army Airfield, Fort Stewart and other nearby military bases in South Carolina is facilitating the availability of military participation in these celebratory and memorial events which are focused this year on Pulaski's role as the "Father of the U.S. Cavalry."
In the evening, private guided house tours of General Sherman's Civil War Headquarters will be given to visiting dignitaries and military command.
At 6 p.m., there will be a reception in the Pulaski Room of the DeSoto Hilton Hotel followed by the Pulaski Jubilee Dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Savannah DeSoto Hilton.
Tickets for the dinner at $85 per person (10 tickets are $750.00) order by check made payable to : Pulaski Jubilee 2003 / 2004 and sent to: Pulaski Jubilee, Telfair Square, P.O. Box 10933, Savannah, GA 31412.

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