By Alicja Karlic
Polish minister of Culture and Heritage Professor Małgorzata Omilanowska has been touring American Polonia’s heritage and cultural institutions. In the Metro Detroit area she was a guest of the Polish Mission at Orchard Lake. She started her trip in Chicago where she has visited Polish churches and among other places she stopped at the Polish Museum. In New York, she was a guest of the Kosciuszko Foundation, Pilsudski Institute, Polish Institute of Science and Polish Army Veterans Association.
Professor Omilanowska awarded The Polish Mission with the golden Gloria Artis (Medal for Merit to Culture). Awarded to persons and organizations for distinguished contributions to, or protection of Polish culture and heritage, The Polish Mission of the Orchard Lake Schools is the only organization in North America to earn the gold degree of this prestigious award. July 22 2015 marks the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Orchard Lake Schools, and the establishment of the only Polish seminary in North America, which is still active today.
Minister Omilanowska together with Mr. Jacek Miler, Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage, reviewed several items from the rich collections of Polish Mission Archives. She paid special attention to King’s Letters and old photographs from the period of World War II.
Orchard Lake Schools and the Polish Mission received many congratulations, best wishes and special letters from Poland and the United States, underlining the importance of these vital institutions in promoting Polish culture and heritage abroad.
Mrs. Ewa Kopacz, Polish Prime Minister wrote: “Orchard Lake is one of the most important and the oldest Polish centers abroad our Homeland. For the last 130 years it has been assuring not only widely open educational possibilities to Polish immigrants in the United States but also strong unity and communication with Polish heritage, Poland itself and traditions.
The Polish Mission under your leadership (Mr. Marcin Chumiecki – ed.) is a very active center deeply involved in promotion of Polish history, education and culture. It is the place where the memories of heroic Polish army tradition and the Polish veterans are cultivated and staying alive. We would like to recognize and underline the importance of all activities focused on American society and aimed on improving understanding and sensitivity of all important factors from the Polish state point of view, including the area of Polish and Jewish dialog.”
Polish Secretary of State, Mr. Grzegorz Schetyna in his letter to Director Chumiecki sent congratulations, stating as follows: “The Gold Medal of Merit in Culture Gloria Artis symbolizes appreciation of the Polish State for wonderful achievements of Orchard Lake Schools in the area of constant glorification of Poland and Polish community in United States”.
Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago wrote: “I am equally pleased to see how fruitful efforts of the Orchard Lake School’s cultural branch, The Polish Mission, educate the American and international youth about important historical and cultural facts relating to Poland and Polonia”.
Adama Dieng, Under Secretary-General Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide sent a letter and he wrote: “This year was also marked by our fruitful collaboration in bringing to the United Nations Headquarters, in New York City, the Forbidden Art exhibition, one of the outcomes for your longstanding partnership with Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum of Poland. I understand that the exhibit is currently ‘on the tour’ in many colleges of North America. This initiative is an example of the important role that your institution continues to play in making education an awareness-raising tool for the prevention of atrocity crimes…I look forward to a continued good co-operation.”
Republic of Poland Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf sent congratulations to the Polish Mission on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the foundation of the Polish Mission of the Orchard Lake Schools. “This jubilee is possible thanks to the great effort and commitment of so many individuals, who in 1885 decided to establish a mission to shape the intellect and character of young people. Throughout all those years, the Polish Mission has been a source of knowledge about Polish tradition, culture and history, enriching the minds of students of Polish descent.
I don’t have to tell you how important it is to preserve and cultivate Polish heritage and our traditions abroad, and I am really glad that the institution that you lead is offering the most up to date educational and cultural experiences. This would not be possible without your devotion to the preservation of faith and our traditions”.
During the celebration of a special dinner at Pine Lake Country Club, West Bloomfield, Mrs. Omilanowska passed the Gold Medal Gloria Artis to Orchard Lake School chancellor, Msgr. Thomas Machalski. The meeting continued at Orchard Lake Schools, in the gallery. Professor Omilanowska opened the “Simply-Pink” exhibition of Agata Dworzak-Subocz and met with invited guests and Polonia’s activists. Pink is part of the prestigious International Print Triennial Society (IPT) of Krakow, Poland. The Polish Mission of the Orchard Lake Schools is the only venue in the United States to host an IPT exhibition. Pink is offered in support of breast cancer awareness, and the work of the Mary Kay Foundation. A public exhibition will be offered in October.
Minister Omilanowska recalled that the ministry has been managing special programs for many years supporting Polish organizations active abroad, oriented toward promotion of history and culture. She also assured that all cultural institutions and organizers of cultural events promoting Polish culture could count on financial and logistic support from her ministry.
We were very pleased to be part of a very important event, the splendid moment when the Polish Mission of Orchard Lake Schools was decorated with the Gold Medal “Gloria Artis”. Coincidently, this moment coincided nicely with 130th anniversary of Orchard Lake Schools.
Congratulations to the Polish Mission and Orchard Lake Schools!