Five bishops, almost 20 priests from the Pastoral Service for Polish Immigrants and the faithful from the entire Brooklyn diocese took part in the solemn 31st M of Polish Heritage. It was chaired by Bishop Józef Dąbrowski from the diocese of Charlottetown in Canada, and accompanied by bishops from the diocese of Brooklyn: Bishop Robert Brennan, Bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop Nicolas DiMarzio, Bishop Octavio Cisneros and Bishop Witold Mroziewski.
“This celebration is an opportunity not only to maintain and nurture our Polish traditions, customs, culture and faith, but also to share all this with others, as well as to show pride and gratitude for what we have received and who we are,” he emphasized right after the start of the M. Polish Heritage main celebrant, Bishop Józef Dąbrowski.
The faithful were also welcomed by Bishop Witold Mroziewski: “It is a time of joy, when, through the intercession of St. John Paul II, we raise our prayers to God the Father Almighty in this co-cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn.” In this way, he referred to the motto of this year’s m related to Polish heritage, which was “Saint from Wadowice – John Paul II”, just like the title of the concert that took place after the end of this commemorative service.
Both the Polish Heritage M and the subsequent verbal and musical performance took place on Sunday, October 15, on the eve of the 45th anniversary of the election of Cardinal. Karol Wojtyła to the See of Peter. Co-Cathedral of St. Józefa was filled almost to the last seat, and among the faithful there were many representatives of various organizations and institutions.
Numerous banners, folk costumes and uniforms gave the solemn service a patriotic character. All this showed how diverse and colorful Polish culture and tradition are.
In the sermon delivered by Bishop Józef Dąbrowski’s work was dominated by the theme of longing, which is especially felt by emigrants living abroad.
“Each of us has probably experienced such a feeling in our lives. Then we remember what was beautiful, sometimes our hometown, our home, our beloved parents, our homeland or some meeting when our hearts beat faster,” the celebrant said. He also quoted fragments of poetry by Adam Mickiewicz and Cyprian Kamil Norwid describing longing. The priest also emphasized that we miss many things, experiences and loved ones. For many believers, Saint was certainly such a person. John Paul II, about whom Bishop Józef Dąbrowski also talked a lot.
A reference to the Polish Holy Father could not be missing from the sermon, because the Polish Heritage M was dedicated to him, and a day later – on Monday, October 16 – was the 45th anniversary of his pontificate.
“Today we also remember a man who fought for a man,” noted the celebrant. He added that we were extremely lucky and had the pleasure of living during the pastoral ministry of Pope John Paul II.
“This tireless pilgrim of hope, the prophet of our times, cried out and pleaded for man,” said the priest. He explained that John Paul II also called for respect for the culture and traditions of nations around the world.
Bishop Józef Dąbrowski also recalled several important statements of the Holy Father, who always emphasized great love for the homeland and appealed for the cultivation of our traditions. This was the case, among others, in 1979 in Krakow’s Błonia, just before his return to Rome: “Before I leave here, I ask you to once again accept this entire spiritual heritage, which is called Poland, with faith, hope and love, the kind that Christ instills in us at baptism. May you never despair, grow weary, or discourage you. So that you do not cut off the roots from which we grow.
The celebrant also said that these words of John Paul II fit perfectly into the testament of the national heritage that we are currently celebrating in the United States. He also encouraged us to, like our ancestors living in emigration, try to cultivate national traditions and culture and maintain what they ped on to us.
“Here we are building our little homelands in the environment of the Church, through the work of Polish schools, through the cultivated traditions of Polish folklore, songs and dance, through the involvement of priests and parish groups in organizing Polish events, and the involvement of diplomatic missions,” the bishop said.
He also encouraged the transmission of these values to subsequent generations. He ended his sermon with a quote from a competition essay by a student of one of the Polish schools. Her words indicated the attitude that this girl has towards our homeland and at the same time served as an example for others: “I love you, Poland, for your perseverance, for the white eagle, for the red and white flag and for the Dąbrowski Mazurka.”
WORDS OF GRATITUDE
At the end of the Holy M priest Grzegorz Stasiak, coordinator of the Pastoral Service for Polish Immigrants, recalled the events that took place on October 16, 1978 at St. Peter in Rome, when the crowd gathered there heard the significant words “Habemus papam”, after which the whole world learned that Cardinal Karol Wojtyła from Krakow had become pope.
“This solemn M of Polish Heritage is a wonderful opportunity to thank God for this time and for the pontificate of Saint. John Paul II,” emphasized Fr. Grzegorz Stasiak. He also expressed gratitude to Bishop. Józef Dąbrowski and the bishops accompanying him for celebrating the occasional service. The children’s delegation handed over to the Ordinary of Brooklyn, Bishop. Robert Brennan the icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa and presented all bishops with white and red flowers.
The Coordinator of the Pastoral Service for Polish Immigrants also thanked all priests and deacons participating in the Polish Heritage M, as well as the faithful and representatives of Polish organizations and institutions.
Among them were, among others: members of the John Paul II Foundation, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, the board of the Polish Supplementary Schools Headquarters and directors, teachers and students of Polish schools, as well as representatives of the Polish-Slavic Federal Credit Union, the Polish-Slavic Center, the Main Committee of the Pulaski Parade and the Polish American Congress (Department of southern New York) and the Church Service of the parish of St. Stanisław Kostka from Greenpoint.
Flag posts were put up by, among others: hunters from the Saint Hubert Hunting and Fishing Club in Maspeth, firefighters from the parish of St. Franciszka de Chantal in Brooklyn, the Maritime League of Ozone Park, the parish of St. Matthias of Ridgewood and Our Lady of Częstochowa and Saint. Kazimierz from Brooklyn, as well as Polish supplementary schools.
IMPRESSIONS AND EMOTIONS
The Polish Heritage M was amazingly received by its main celebrant, Bishop Józef Dąbrowski, who has not had much contact with the Polish community so far, because the diocese of Charlottetown, which he leads, is typically Canadian, and its ethnic communities are dominated by Italians and Latinos.
“For me it was a very profound experience. I met here not only with a very large Polish community, but also with compatriots from my homeland – emphasized the priest in an interview with “Nowy Dziennik”. – Unfortunately, there is nothing like this in Canada and on such a large scale. There are, of course, larger Polish communities, such as Mississauga, Toronto or London, where Polish mes are organized, but they cannot be compared to what I experienced here. It was a prayerful promotion of culture and language and enriching our religion, primarily through the spirit of Polishness,” said Bishop Dąbrowski.
Bishop Robert Brennan was also very impressed and paid special attention to the standard posts.
“First of all, I would like to thank the young people with banners. You stood and endured the entire Holy M. You are amazing,” the Ordinary of Brooklyn emphasized at the end of the service. According to him, the flag posts and the perseverance of the young people standing next to them were proof of good and important values that are embedded in the spiritual structure of the Church, as well as in the heritage of faith.
Bishop Witold Mroziewski did not hide his joy at this year’s Polish Heritage M and the numerous participation of the Polish community.
“I am very impressed by this prayer event today in the co-cathedral of St. Joseph, because from the perspective of the presbytery we were impressed by the presence of the faithful to an exceptional degree. It was probably the most numerous Polish Heritage Holy M since I remember participating in it for many years,” the priest emphasized.
He added that this sight and the very active participation of the Polish community in the service, singing and prayers give hope for the future.
He also pointed out that this number was certainly influenced by the 45th anniversary of the election of Cardinal. Karol Wojtyła for pope. He also encouraged the young generation to develop appropriate attitudes and stimulate love for the Holy Father.
“Today was an example of cultivating the memory of our contemporary saint with the participation of children, youth, adults and Polish organizations,” said Bishop Mroziewski.