May 6th witnessed a very familiar celebration on the Orchard Lake Schools campus. For as long as many can remember, celebrating Polish Constitution Day had always been a staple of the Orchard Lake community. Occurring fast on the heels of the SS. Cyril and Methodius seminary graduation ceremonies (held just the day before), the event always capitalizes on a pleasant atmosphere around campus. As all the students of the Orchard Lake Schools prepare to wrap up their studies for the summer, many prepare to make the journey to their homes, but not before coming to an old Orchard Lake Tradition.
Most all Polish-American fraternal organizations do something special to celebrate the adoption of the May 3rd Constitution, and the Orchard Lake Schools community was no different. In years past, local organizations gathered with their families and friends to hear speeches and watch performances of traditional Polish music and dance to honor the special holiday. In a cooperative effort by the Polish-American Congress and The Polish Mission, this year’s event was a pleasant and heartwarming way to kick off the summer of 2012.
This year, we at the Polish Mission had planned a special format for Constitution Day. In the past, the event always seemed to go off rather quickly—people would disperse after the performances to Polish Mass at 1pm at the Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake, and then, it would be over. With all the things happening around Polish Mission these days, we wanted to open all of our departments to our Constitution Day audiences. Thus, “All Things Polish” was born. That’s the name we decided to give to a new exciting spin on our May celebration. For the open house, guests were invited to the Polish Mission’s Genealogy Center, Galeria, and to the Polish Museums to mingle and explore the Polish Mission. The Dispersed Poland exhibit was on display at the Old Gym, and hot food was available all day.
The event started when about 200 people came to the “Old Gym” to watch the colorful series of performances. This year we had the great pleasure to welcome representatives from the Polish-American Congress, as well as the Polanie Polish Dance Ensemble to the Old Gym to set the tone. In addition, two new speakers were featured, who each made a particularly deep impact. Fr. Louis Madey is a familiar fixture of the Orchard Lake Schools campus. His role as associate professor of sacred theology at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, and also as a former US Navy chaplain, shape his authority as a leader of Polonia, and allow his sentiments to resonate loud and clear to all those who share a love for Poland. He gave a very moving address to the community that outlined what it truly meant to be both Polish and American. The plan he outlined for Polish-Americans was to have a renewed spirit of patriotism in the midst of a changing world, and to instill the unique and historical values and emotions into new generations of Polish-Americans, so our cherished culture may perpetuate, in good form, throughout the future. The second special guest was Ms. Ania Bieciuk. A recent graduate of Michigan State University, Ania, 23, is a great example of how deep Polish roots can go. Today, she works as a constituent relations specialist for the Governor’s Office, and made the trip from Lansing to visit Orchard Lake. The continuous embrace of ethnicity is an experience shared by fewer and fewer people her age, and her special commentary on the importance of holding on to our distinctly Polish heritage made her story very relevant. Her speech was motivating, and sent the message to re-engage our treasured ancestry.
Many thanks to all who came out to make All Things Polish a success!