The sun was shining bright, and so were the spirits of all that attended the Tenth Annual Blessing of the Polish American Dance Ensembles at Saint Hyacinth Parish on Sunday, March 18, 2012. While the sun warmed the temperatures, the presence of nearly 170 Polish Dancers of all ages warmed the hearts of the 450 Detroit area Polish Americans that were in attendance. Dancers were present from 16 different dance organizations: The Centennial Dancers (PNA), Czarny Dunajec, Gwiazda Dancers (PRCUA), Łowicz Dancers (PWA), Mała Polska Folk Ensemble (PRCUA), Opole Dancers (PRCUA), Polish Cultural Dance Group, Polish Alliance Dancers of Dearborn (PNA), Polskie Maki Dancers (PRCUA), Radomainie (PNA), Rogalin Dancers (PRCUA), Rzeszow Dancers, Wawel Folk Ensemble, Wieliczka Dancers (PRCUA), Zajączek Dance Ensemble (PRCUA) and the Zamek Dancers (PWA).
The annual Mass is held to recognize the dedication and efforts of the dancers, teachers, directors and instructors in promoting the Polish Heritage through the teaching of Polish Dance. Each year the Mass has a different theme to highlight a portion of Polish culture. Themes for past Masses have included Polish Valentine’s Day, Topienie Marzanny, Saint Casimir, Saint Joseph’s Feast Day, Pisanki, Hejnal Mariacki, history of the Polish Eagle and the story of the Lajkonik. This year’s Mass was no different and highlighted three “Poletown Heroes”: Father Francis Skalski, Michal Krowleski and Don Samull. All three fervently promoted the Polish Heritage. They were involved in many activities to advance our heritage and making people aware of the beauty of our customs. Father Skalski, Michal and Don were also very involved in activities at Saint Hyacinth Parish and were among the founders of the first Blessing of the Polish American Dance Ensembles.
The Blessing Mass had its beginning in the fall of 2002. There were a number of special Masses in 2002, including an Anniversary Mass to commemorate Saint Hyacinth Parish’s 95th Anniversary. Throughout the year, Polish dancers added the Polish touch with their costumes. During a meeting at the end of the year, one of the parishioners said “we should do something to thank the dancers for this support.” It was at that moment the Blessing of the Polish American Dance Ensembles came to be. The Blessing Mass was intended to be a day of recognition of their efforts. The dancers practice and perform all year long, so this is a day for them to relax, be recognized by the Polish community and receive God’s Blessings. Don Samull and Michal Krolweski also encouraged that the Mass include a theme to highlight a part of our heritage each year. This would be a means to help teach the young that attended a little bit of our rich heritage. Both of these principles are continued today.
The Tenth Annual Blessing Mass began with a procession of the dancers dressed in traditional costumes from various regions of Poland. The wide range of ages and variety of costumes formed a beautiful and colorful display for all to see. The procession also included the Polish and American flags which were carried by members of the Radomianie Dancers. The flags were held high as the Polish and American National Anthems were sung. The Mass was celebrated by Reverend Janusz Iwan, Pastor of Saint Hyacinth Parish. The Saint Hyacinth Men’s choir added to the beauty of the Mass with the music and songs they provided.
The Offertory consisted of a variety of items symbolic of our Polish heritage and customs. The sign of freedom and independence, the crowned Polish Eagle, was offered by the Gwiazda Dancers. The Łowicz Dancers offered an Illustrated History of Poland that tells the story of our ancestral land in pictures. The Rogalin Dance Troop offered Pisanki, a reminder that Easter will soon be here. The Wieliczka Dancers brought up the bread and salt. They are traditionally used in Polish welcomes where the bread symbolizes Jesus, the bread of life, and the salt reminds us of life’s hardships. Poppies representing the flowers of the fields in Poland were brought up by the Polski Maki Dancers. The Polish heritage and customs are a part of our lives so a book of Polish Customs was offered by the Polish Cultural Dance Group. The Centennial Dancers offered Krakowiak dolls representing the national dance of Poland. The Opole Dancers offered a basket of fruit symbolic of the Polish custom of blessing of the Easter baskets. Wawel Folk Ensembles offered soil from the Wawel Castle, their namesake, that they personally obtained while in Poland. A picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Queen and protector of Poland, was offered by the Zajączek Dance Ensemble. Rzeszow Dancers offered up sheaves of wheat. The Zamek dancers offered pącki, a traditional Polish pastry. The Polish Alliance Dancers offered a picture of Pope John Paul II. He is an inspiration to all Poles to follow our heritage and religion. A large and beautifully decorated loaf of Easter Bread was offered by Czarny Dunajec. Finally, the Mala Polska Folk Ensemble brought up a scroll containing the names of the Detroit area Polish American Dance Ensembles. The dancers signed the scroll as they arrived for the Mass. The chalice for Communion was offered by Connie Skalski, the cousin of Father Francis Skalski.
Following Communion, Father praised the dancers, their instructors and the dancer’s parents. Father Janusz then bestowed a blessing on them. For the dancers he asked God to fill them with the desire to continue to learn; for the teachers and directors, he asked God to fill them with the desire to continue sharing and teaching the love of Poland and God; and for the parents he asked God’s blessing to provide them the strength to continue to sacrifice their time and energy to provide this learning experience for their children. The Mass ended with all joining in a Prayer to Saint Joseph in recognition of Saint Joseph’s Feast day.
Following the Mass, all the dancers, guests and parishioners of Saint Hyacinth were welcome to the school hall for snacks and beverages. The dancers and guests mingled and enjoyed the camaraderie of the day by being there as members of Polonia and representatives of their respective dance organizations. It was a beautiful spring day, and a beautiful day for Polonia and all that attended.