ACPC Convention 2009 Report

The Soaring Polish Spirit

Hartford, Connecticut - August 4 - 8, 2009

by Jo Louise Winters

[Guards Picture]

Opening Ceremonies
Reception Singer: soprano Monika Krajewska - anthems

The memories of the recent 61st Annual Convention of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) hosted by the Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford will remain vibrant and exhilarating for a long time in the hearts and minds of the attendees who experienced "The Soaring Polish Spirit" theme of the 2009 Convention. For the past two years Co-Chairs Anna-Mae Maglaty, Frances Pudlo and Anne Oleasz as well as Co-Program Chairs Mary Heslin and Ursula Brodowicz had diligently planned every detail of the week’s activities with the zealous help of many committee chairs and members. The magnificence of the cultural programs, outstanding speakers, exciting tour, and finally, the grandiose Banquet and Ball were the rich results of the committee’s strong determination to arouse passionate appreciation for our rich ancestral history, culture and heritage.

The First Company Governor’s Footguard opened the ceremonies on Wednesday, August 5th with the colorful guardsmen presenting the colors bearing the flags of the United States, Poland, and the State of Connecticut. They were followed by a group of young Polish Scouts in uniform as arranged by Maria Brodowicz. Renditions of the U.S. national anthem and that of Poland were sung by the well-known operatic singer Soprano Monika Krajewska. Rev. Monsignor Daniel Plocharczyk from New Britain delivered the Invocation.

The gracious Co-Program Chair, Mary Heslin, a well-known member/activist of the Hartford and the Connecticut political and cultural scene, invited some very prominent personages to the Convention opening. The audience was very pleased to receive sincere congratulations and "best wishes" from so many distinguished citizens of the State. Mrs. Heslin introduced the dignitaries who either personally delivered their greetings or whose official letters were read. The following is her summary report on the participating guests:

Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut in her official letter stated that the 61st Convention is a wonderful occasion to honor the many contributions of Polish Americans to our communities. Mayor Eddie Perez of Hartford complimented the many educational and cultural activities sponsored by the Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford noting how the city benefits from them. The Mayor declared that the Polish Flag be flown from the Municipal Building on the 7th and 8th of August. Deputy Majority Leader, Peter Tercyak of the Conn. Legislature presented an official citation from the General Assembly commending the long time commitment of public service by the Polish Cultural Club in promoting their proud ancestry and fostering interest in the rich Polish culture with other Americans. The entire membership of both the Senate and the House extended its best wishes on this memorable occasion of the 61st Convention of the ACPC dated August 5, 2009. State Senator John Fonfara noted that Greater Hartford is home to a large Polish American community which is grateful for organizations like the Polish Cultural Club and the ACPC that help to preserve our Polish culture as well as our connections with both Poland and Polish -Americans throughout the United States.

Congressman John Larson of the U.S. House of Representatives presented a special Congressional Recognition to the ACPC. John Rossi, his chief administrative aide personally delivered the regrets of the Congressman who has seldom missed any local Polish event. He was one of the first major contributors to the fund for the Kosciuszko Squadron. Of national historic note is the leadership shown by the Congressman in advancing the designation of the Colt Park Complex as a national historic park. It was the Colt revolver manufactured in Hartford that was termed "the gun that won the West". Dr. M. B. Biskupski, PhD is the holder of the Blejwas Endowed Chair of Polish and Polish American Studies at Central Conn. State University. Dr. Biskupski noted the value of the close cooperation and participation of the members of the Polish Cultural Club and the Polish Studies Program as recently evidenced by the successful completion of the Kosciuszko Project at the New England Air Museum.

Keynote Speaker, Secretary of State, Susan Bysiewicz is the highest-ranking Polish American administrator in the Connecticut Cabinet. She noted that Connecticut is one of the highest-ranking states in numbers of Polish Americans eligible to vote. She noted also the importance of advancing voting rights along with the support of educating the electorate. She emphasized the necessity of personal participation and the encouragement of interest in Government activities.

Mrs. Heslin had also arranged for speakers at various points during the convention as follows:

Luncheon Speaker Anthony J. Bajdek retired Dean of Students at Northeastern University has remained active through the Polish Congress. He is a well-known historian and activist for Polish American interests and emphasized how important it is to become active and involved in the political process. The issue of the denial by Congress to advance the granting of the visa waiver to Poland remains a difficult one to overcome. Only through involvement and political acumen can meaningful progress be made. His knowledge of current political philosophies and history was clearly illustrated by his clear and interesting video presentation.

Jonathan Shea, Genealogist and Breakfast Speaker, entertained and informed a very attentive audience about the many ways and places to trace the history of one’s family roots. Many examples of how to use actual documents available to assist in one’s search were illustrated on his screen presentation.

Marek Czarnecki , Iconographer, as a Breakfast Speaker at the convention fascinated the audience with numerous stories based in history surrounding the "Myth & Mystery of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa." His skill as an accomplished artist, specializing in icons, and his knowledge of the pertinent history clearly was evident in his exceptional narration. Marek’s thought provoking historic references were accompanied by illustrations on the screen. His intellectual and moving accounts his research findings fascinated the audience and left everyone feeling that they now have a more intimate understanding and appreciation of the historic religious icon, the "Black Madonna."

Michael Peszke M.D. PhD. lectured at the New England Air Museum where the delegates and guests consummated their afternoon bus tour. Dr. Peszke had distinguished himself in the medical field and then went on to become an independent scholar with a special interest in Poland’s WWII military history. His presentation dealt with the History of the Polish Air Force and the Legendary Kosciuszko Squadron.

Among the highlights of the productive business sessions led by ACPC Pres. Thaddeus Mirecki during the Convention was a report by Paul Bosse and Peter Obst. As Co-Chairs of a mission to secure copies of church documents, such as Jubilee books, bulletins, and program booklets issued by Polish parishes, they are forwarding the collected materials to Iwona Stefaniak, head of the Pulaski Museum in Warka, Poland. Ms. Stefaniak is organizing a "Polish Churches in the United States" exhibit. All donors will be acknowledged in a program published for the exhibit. Simultaneously, Poland’s Ministry of Culture & National Heritage is compiling an information database of Polish churches abroad. It is very important that all of the Polish Catholic Churches in the U.S. are on record at the museum in Poland. Polish Catholic church parishioners are urged to submit copies of parish documents such as a Sunday Bulletin or at least the name and address of their church. The materials should be sent to Paul Bosse, 20 So. Edgewater Ave., Yardley PA 19067, tele. 215-493-4169 or e-mail DarBoski@aol.com

V.P. Peter Obst presented Paul Bosse with a Plaque sent by Iwona Stefaniak, head of the Pulaski Museum in Warka, Poland. Ms. Stefaniak wrote that this award was a beautiful memorial of appreciation to Paul, who was deeply involved in planning Pulaski’s Reinterment in Savannah. He and Peter also gathered and sent 200 Polonia posters and also a listing of 500 Polish parishes in the U.S. to the Museum.

Camille Kopielski chairs the ACPC Scholarship Committee, which awards two $2,000 scholarships annually to qualified students for summer studies at a university in Poland. Interested Polish American students may obtain detailed information about the scholarships at www.polishcultureacpc.org . Letters from past winners who took courses at universities in Warsaw, Krakow, and other campuses in Poland report very positive and enjoyable experiences. Note: information about other ACPC grants, i.e., Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies, Skalny Scholarships for Polish Studies, and Literary Competition may also be found at the ACPC website.

To encourage literary competition programs sponsored by the Council’s Affiliate and Supporting Organizations, the ACPC’s Wachtel Literary Competition Committee offers to match the first prize awards in such events. The Wachtel Literary Competition is privately endowed by Dr. Estelle Wachtel-Torres who chairs the Committee. Serving with her on the Committee are Dr. Mary Pearlman and Mrs. Florence Beane. Requirements may be obtained at the ACPC website shown above.

Thursday evening, the ACPC presented the Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Award Concert. Jacqueline Noparstak, who has a reputation of being one of the most promising young sopranos of her generation, presented a sparkling and compelling performance. Her voice is admired for its soft, warm, flexible high notes and superb phrasing. Ms. Noparstak has received many honors and awards, among them was being chosen as the first place winner of the Sembrich Vocal competition in Chicago. The judges for the ACPC competition were Music Committee Chair Alicia Dutka, Jaroslaw Golembiowski, S. Kondella, and M. Silvan,

Ms. Noparstak absolutely captivated the audience with her opening selection, Trois Berceuses by Karol Szymanowski. Her next renditions were compelling to listen to as she softly sang "Come to Me in My Dreams" and "Love Went A-Riding" by Frank Bridge, and Strauss’ "September". After the intermission, Ms. Noparstak’s voice rose to moments of blazing power — the audience was swept up into the vitality of La Boheme’s "Quando m’en Vo" by Puccini. Guest artist Sonia Gariaeff (mezzo) presented a stirring rendition from Romeo et Juliet. The two artists were dynamic in duet presentations of arias by Delibes and Mozart. It was easy to be swept up into a shimmering strength of the beauty of tone and flawless technique control by the duo. Thunderous applause followed their united performance. Ms. Noparstak continued to hold the audience in rapt attention with two very passionate renditions of "Aria de Matilde" by Jose Mauri and "Melodia Sentimental" by Heiter Villa-Lobos. Her voice placement was solid and secure, showing great beauty of tone. Jacqueline’s charming stage charisma was a joy to observe. The audience responded by standing and delivering long lasting and enthusiastic applause. Pres. Mirecki presented Ms. Noparstak with an award check as the ACPC Sembrich Vocal Competition winner for 2009. Music Chair Alicia Dutka presented a bouquet of flowers to Jacqueline and guest artist Sonia Gariaeff also received a floral bouquet. Mr. Allan Conway was the accompanist for the concert. His sensitive interpretations and keen sense of music collaboration provided an excellent background for the evening’s program.

Outgoing president Thaddeus Mirecki had served the ACPC for the past two years. A well-organized and masterful administrator, Ted conducted business sessions smoothly and productively while inspiring members to carry out their responsibilities efficiently. The ACPC looks forward to his continuing services as a director, member of several committees and the Co-Webmaster. ACPC members are most grateful to Ted Mirecki for his exemplary leadership, many accomplishments at national and regional levels in the Polonia and firm commitment to helping ACPC fulfill its objectives.

Board Meeting Arrangements Chair Conrad Miczko verified that the ACPC Fall Board meeting would take place in Rochester, NY, Oct. 2-3, 2009. Richard Wiermanski, Convention Co-Chair, offered several options for the site of the Council’s 2010 Convention. By majority vote, the delegates selected Rapids City, SD including a visit to Crazy Horse Monument.

Incoming President Debra Majka presided at the post-convention meeting on Saturday afternoon. Her main function at this juncture was to appoint or reappoint committee chairs and lay some plans for future operations. The delegates welcomed Debbie as an experienced and efficient leader who has served in this venerable position in the past. A spirit of cooperation and productivity was quickly established as the brief meeting came to a close.

One of the spontaneous, joyous occasions occurred during the reception on the first evening of the convention. There the delegates surrounded the very talented accordionist, Eugene Kozlowski, and boisterously sang popular Polish songs. Copies of lyrics were distributed by Chair Anna-Mae Maglaty. Voices rang out spontaneously singing "Miala Baba Koguta", "Goralu Czy Ci Nie Zal", and "Jak Szybko Mijaja Chwile", among other well-known selections. These were moments of uninhibited joy that the delegates will always remember as a part of ACPC Convention 2009.

The 4-1/2 days spent in Hartford were meticulously organized so that the delegates and guests were stimulated intellectually as well as emotionally. Full credit and appreciation for the resulting outstanding Convention goes to the three Chairwomen, Anna-Mae Maglaty, Frances Pudlo and Ann Oleasz, Program Chairladies Mary Heslin and Ursula Brodowicz, and all the other committee workers. Their gracious presence and direction throughout the Convention afforded the delegates/guests further opportunities to experience the "Soaring Polish Spirit" as hearts and minds were swept with feelings of love and thanksgiving for those who played a role in planning and executing a very successful and popular Convention.

At the banquet following our Convention in Hartford this summer, the Szopka made by Robert Flanagan was raffled off with proceeds going to help save the Jan de Rosen mural. The mural "Soaring Polish Spirit" once hung in the church of the Holy Family in Pittsburgh which has been closed by the diocese.

[Szopka Picture]

(l. to r.) Mary Flanagan and happy winner of the Szopka, Michelle Maglaty Mostello.

The cost of taking down, transporting and renovating the mural is exorbitant so that we still need donations. Anyone wishing to contribute may send a check made out to ACPC with de Rosen mural on the memo line.
Send to:

Mr. Gregory Biestek
ACPC Treasurer
817 Berkshire
Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230

Additional information on the Council’s annual elections and awards, the 2009 National Conference for the Social Studies and the Kosciuszko Squadron Exhibit will be forthcoming in subsequent press releases. Readers interested in American Council for Polish Culture membership may contact Membership Chair Anna-Mae Maglaty at (860) 521-7621, e/m: annamae11@comcast.net or visit www.polishcultureacpc.org




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Opening Ceremonies (l to r): Two Polish Scouts, Outgoing President Thaddeus Mirecki, Prog. Chair Mary Heslin


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Three Convention Co-Chairs - (l to r) : Frances Pudlo, Anne Oleasz, Anna-Mae Maglaty


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Sembrich Singers - Sembrich Concert: (l to r) Sonia Gariaeff, Alicia Dutka, Jacqueline Noparstak


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Pulaski Museum Award: (l to r) Peter Obst, presenter; Paul Bosse, recipient


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The Kosciuszko Squadron display at the Air Museum