01 Jun 2014

This Week Letter – Jun 1, 2014

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My Dear Parishioners and Friends, In the United States, the feast of the Ascension has been moved from Thursday to Sunday. The Seventh Sunday after Easter, therefore, becomes even more solemn due to the observed mystery of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks to Christ’s Ascension, human life has increased in value. Life’s final purpose is worth suffering and dying for. We have a place in Heaven next to Christ. Our Lord ascended into glory from the Mount of Olives, that place where on Holy Thursday He broke out in a bloody sweat, that Garden from which He cried out “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will” (Mt.26:39), that place where Judas betrayed Him with a kiss, that place out of which the light of His earthly life was extinguished. The fate of Jesus is our fate. It is necessary to pass through many tribulations to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, yet our temporary afflictions do not deserve to be compared to the glory of Eternal Life. Without a crown of thorns here on earth, there can be no crown of glory in heaven. In our parish, today, Bishop Andrew Wypych will preside over a great jubilee celebration of the Polonia Club. 100 years ago, Polish families belonging to Our Lady of Victory Parish decided to form an association that they called “Polonia Club”. The first president was Felix Rzedzienkowski, followed by Valentine Wachowski. From its very inception, it was an organization of a social and cultural nature, an educator of beautiful Polish tradition and attachment to homeland, God and Church. From the very beginning, they also tried to establish Polish ethnic parishes where they felt more at home. In 1916, 90 Polish families affiliated with the Polonia Club at OLV met with Rev. Paul Rhode, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, for the purpose of organizing and establishing the Polish parish of St. Constance. Fr. Alexander Knitter was appointed first pastor and it was he who made the initial preparations. The first building purchased, a former Protestant church, was located at the corner of Lawrence and Central. More space, however, was needed. By November 1, 1916, the cornerstone for the new church building and school was laid at 5843 Strong Street in Chicago. The Polonia Club increased significantly from the moment this parish was established and continued to play a very important role among the other major organizations of the parish. For many people today, long-term and deserving members of the Club are mindful of the times of former presidents: Stanislaw Surowka, Bogumil Stasiak, Kazimiera Pytel Nowak, Stanislaw Prawica and since 2009 the current president, Kazimierz Milewski. At present, there are 150 Polonia Club members who continue to be engaged in the cultural and more recently the religious life of the parish…and the Club is flourishing. The Club meets once a month to discuss current issues, often invites interesting guests, and concludes the meeting with refreshments. For several years now, they have organized a terrific annual picnic, parish treats, the New Year’s Eve Dance, sharing of the Christmas “Oplatek” and the Easter “Swieconka”. The Polonia Club is known for its interesting excursions to surrounding sites and sanctuaries. I wish the Polonia Club another hundred years of fine and dedicated activity in both Club and Parish concerns. May God bless its President, Administrative Board and all its Members! In the name of our entire parish, I extend sincere thanks to Mr. Ray Suarez, Vice-Mayor of Chicago, and to Mr. John Arena, Alderman of the 45th Ward, for their personal efforts in the funding and execution of the newly resurfaced streets of Marmora and Strong that they managed to have completed in time for the 100-year celebration of the Polonia Club. May God richly reward your benevolence. God be gracious to you!