By Frank J. Dmuchowski
Polonia in the Detroit area is vibrant and alive. For this reason it is often very difficult to decide what to report on. However, choose we must! The following all happened recently. They are clearly different but they all have a common thread and that is: “they are all positive and inspiring aspects of the Polish experience”.
First— Father Anthony Brooks was ordained at St. Florians Church on Saturday May 12 th and he said his first mass at Our Lady of Częstochowa on Sunday May 13, 2012
There is only one word to describe these two events and that is JOYOUS. Both events were celebrated by nearly overflow crowds at both churches. After the formal ceremony there was wonderful banquet with Sisters and Priest from North America and Poland and hundreds of parishioners joining in the celebration. The joy of this occasion was not simply the important ordination of a priest. No it was the celebration that an American of Polish descent was becoming a member of the Society of Christ. There is a certain pride that he came from Our Lady of Częstochowa.
The mass at OLC was standing room only. It was conducted in Polish, English and Latin.
It was concelebrated by Father Brooks, Father Thomas Sielicki, the head of the Society of Christ, and Father Pawel Bandurski, the Provincial of North America for the SOC, and Father Slawek Murawka, the Pastor of OLC. Father Brooks’ family was in the first several rows. His comments were touching as he mentioned his appreciation to his parents for their help and inspiration. He also mentioned the help of his now fellow priests during his 7 years of training at the SOC seminary in Poznań.
At one point during the service the crowd at the Mass broke into spontaneous song! Father Brooks was overwhelmed by the moment as he raised his eyes to the heavens above and regained his composure. In many ways this was the most touching moment of his first Mass as there as this remarkable expression of love and affection for Father Brooks.
At the end of the Mass, Father Brooks laid his hands on the head of each parishioner and said a special blessing that his given by a pries after his first Mass.
It is a personal joy to simply write these words with the knowledge that those who were at one of the events felt this same joy.
Second– Stanley Grot’s Campaign Reception on Tuesday May 8, 2012
On Tuesday May 6 Stan Grot held a reception at the Pallazola’s Banquet Center to announce his bid for election as the Clerk for Shelby Township. He was previously appointed to an unexpired term for that position; Let me say that this was a wonderful affair with an outstanding buffet which was concluded by the eating of a wonderful torte prepared by Pani Amelia Środek of Środeks Deli and Bakery in Sterling Heights.
This evening Stan was assisted by his wife Sylwia their four children and his sister Maria.
He kept his comments brief as he explained his qualification; how he was part of the Shelby Township team, their joint accomplishments. In closing he stated that he clearly understood the wishes of the residents for a safe and well run community at a reasonable cost. The remainder of the time was spent introducing the large number politicians and other powerbrokers of Macomb County who came out to support Stan. During the evening there had to be between 300 and 350 individuals who attended the campaign reception. Certainly many of these individuals had benefitted from Stan’s tireless efforts to support the Republican Party in Macomb County. There was also a large number of Polonians in attendance.
As we have mentioned many times in the past, Stan Grot is a naturalized Polish American who is a great example to all of Polonia of what can be achieved through hard work as we support the political party of our choice. What is the secret of his success? I believe that it can be found in his core philosophy: “Make a friend, keep a friend!”
A key endorsement for Stan came when his former boss in Lansing, Rusty Hills, delivered a simple message from himself and Attorney General Bill Schuette.
“We support Stan Grot 1000%”
Third– The International Armed Forces Night held in Windsor Canada on May 11, 2012
On Friday May 11th the 53rd annual armed forces night was held at the Folgolar Furlan Hall in Windsor. This event is held in alternating years in Canada and the United States. Next year it will be held at the American Polish Cultural Center. This event celebrates the cooperation that has existed between American, Polish and Canadian Armed Forces thorough out the years. It is attended by military both active and retired and their spouses and guests. This is my second year at the IAFN event and it is something that I look forward to attending each year.
As an interesting side point this year’s the celebration commemorated the 200th, anniversary of the War of 1812, in a presentation by guest speaker Dr. Trevor Price. There was also the announcement of the IAFN’s 2012 Achievement Award which went to The Military Institute of Windsor which has been a staunch supporter of Canadian-American friendship and with a deep appreciation for the contribution of their Polish friends.
This is an event that in itself requires a good deal of planning. One individual who helps to make this such a successful event is Polonia’s own Colonel Chester Szczotka (retired) who was the Master of Ceremony. In a very pleasant way he kept things moving just like clockwork. Of the two hundred participants there were a number from Detroit Polonia. One of the tables was hosted by Col Szczotka’s wife Nancy who was very charming and gracious as she expressed to each of us heir’s and Chester’s deep appreciation for our attending.
One of the highpoints of the evening was the singing of the three national anthems. The Polish National Anthem was sung loudly and enthusiastically. Another tradition is the raising of a toast to each of the leaders of Poland, United States, Canada and Great Britain. Responsible for the Polish toast was Captain Emil Kornacki recipient of the Virtuti Militari at the Battle for Monte Cassino. His strong and powerful voice belied his 90+ years.
The most touching moment of the evening is the “Toast to Fallen Comrades”. In the vast expanse of the hall, there is a table set for one on which there are several simple items. Each of them represents an aspect of the life of the fallen—either for them or their family and friends and comrades in arms. The symbolism of each item is explained as we reflect on the one who cannot be there—the fallen. A part of this ceremony is the playing of the bagpipes, reveille and taps.
It is at a moment like this that one is struck by the sacrifice and potential sacrifice by those who have served or are serving. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for our freedom.
Finally there is a toast. Each of us raises our glass, remembers and then echoes the words:
TO THE FALLEN! TO THE FALLEN!