Dziennik Chicagoski -- May 11, 1892Celebration of the Polish Constitution in South Chicago
South Chicago, where a new group of Poles have settled, had an opportunity to view the loyal patriotism of the Poles when they celebrated the hundred and first anniversary of the constitution of the Third of May last Sunday, May 8. The newly built St. Michael Church, located at 83rd Street, where the prairies reign, was gaily decorated. Special services were arranged for the occasion by the pastor, Reverend Adolph Nowicki.
Mass services started at 8 o'clock in the morning. On the wall above the altar, a large sign made up of fresh flowers was suspended with these latin words: "Pro Patria." The devout parishioners filled the pews early; St. Michael's Society attended in full regalia, and one of the Orders of the Knights entered the church in full uniform and glittering helmets.2
During the Holy Mass, which was officiated by the Reverend Nowicki, the girls' choir directed by Mr. Wiedemann sang church and national hymns. The pastor took a passage from the Holy Scripture, "Shortly and ye shall not see me, and again shortly and ye shall see me," and used it as a theme for his sermon. He contended that closer ties to the Catholic faith, observance of the services of the Blessed Virgin, the Queen of Poland, and mutual understanding and harmony among ourselves could bring about the freedom of Poland.
High Mass was also officiated by the pastor at 10 A. M. The Women's Choir sang during the rites. Reverend Nowicki's sermon was about patience and endurance. The better we adjust ourselves to our hardships and bear them with forbearance, the sooner the day of Poland's resurrection will come, he averred.
"As long as the Polish people were faithful Catholics, they were loyal 3and mighty, but no sooner they turned against the true fold in favor of an allegedly new force they weakened," said the Reverend.
"The Catholic religion is not afraid of true progress and real culture." At the conclusion of the sermon, he announced that a special May Day celebration was to be held at 2 P. M. He also mentioned that collections for the Polish-Russian Catholics and Kosciuszko's monument would be made.
After the Mass services, prayers were offered for the fatherland, followed by the Benedictus.
Soon after the dinner hour, the people began to gather about St. Michael Church to see the parade. Various orders of the Polish Knights had assembled in full uniform, the marshals astride smartly caparisoned horses. Music, played by the bands of several societies, filled the air with national songs.4
At two o'clock sharp, the parade started on its way. Because Retmanskis hall, where the patriotic program was to be held, was nearby, the marching through the neighboring streets was prolonged.
The following societies of St. Michael's parish participated in the parade: St. Michael's, Knights of the Blessed Virgin, Knights of St. Casimir, and the Sons of Freedom.
As the marchers neared the Immaculate Conception church, the Knights of John Sobieski III, headed by three marshals, John Koziczynski, W. Przebilenski, and W. Szostakowski, and the latter's 12-year-old son, who acted as an adjutant, fell in line behind the brightly decorated floats.
The parade took the following course: Commercial Avenue to 92nd Street; 92nd Street to South Chicago Avenue, and then back to 92nd Street; from 592nd Street to Buffalo Avenue; Buffalo Avenue to Superior Street, and from here to R. Retmanski's hall.
All the homes within the area of the parade were decorated with Polish flags. Flowing banners with white eagles were pleasant to view on this free soil.
Typical May weather blessed the patriotic occasion. The Irish and the Germans joined the crowd to view this overflowing enthusiasm of patriotism. They also read the triumphant banner, "The 101st Anniversary of the Constitution of Poland," as the float passed by.
As the parade reached its destination it was realized that Retmanski's hall would not hold the people who had gathered, as it was already partly filled. Those that could not get in, massed about the entrance and windows in the hope of getting a glimpse of the ceremonials.6
The hall was decked out in gay national colors. On the stage two pretty girls dressed in the native costumes of Krakow welcomed the guests.
Reverend A. Nowicki opened the gala program and called upon the president, W. Pocholski, to take charge. He thanked the audience for their splendid support. Ignac Machnikowski, secretary, was called upon to introduce the choir.
The church choir, directed by Mr. Wiedemann, sang two beautiful national hymns. After these two numbers, the secretary returned to the rostrum. He spoke about the historical events that led to the formulation of the Constitution of the Third of May, pointing out to the people how they should respect the Constitution of the United States. During the course of the speech, it could be seen that the patriotism of the audience was gaining in intensity at this revival, for every mention of the freedom of Poland was greeted with cheers and applause.7
The choir sang "Third of May." One of the school boys recited a poem, "The Battle of Racwlawice," and the choir sang another national hymn. A twelve-year-old girl recited "This Is What I Call A Polish Girl," a patriotic rendition which pleased the audience greatly. Her sweet words penetrated the hearts of all and left a permanent impression.
Because Reverend Nowicki gave two sermons in the morning, his turn on the speakers' stand was short and to the point; nevertheless, he showed the audience that he was indefatigable.
"The aim of patriotic celebrations is the revival of relationships with the Fatherland, together with the fusion of these forces. Therefore, it is the duty of every true patriot to arrange and take part in such occasions. Polish might was the outgrowth of the faith in the Catholic religion, which today again is restoring this power."8
"Years ago the people of Poland warred with the Turks and Tartars; today they are fighting Russia and Germany. The Catholic religion has always pointed out and still is pointing out that honor, understanding, love for thy neighbor, regardless of beliefs and political affiliations, is indispensable," the speaker asserted.
He warned against liberalism in religion, saying it leads the people away from the Fatherland, which above all should be remembered. This unfortunate patriotic indifference is leading the people to deny their true status, and many call themselves Germans, Prussians or what is worse Russians.
"National holidays or celebrations," he said, "should always be flowing in the warm hearts of our people, and should never be considered as mere days of entertainment."9
He thanked the enthusiastic audience for their loyal support and begged them to come to a better understanding among themselves, and continue to make arrangements for future affairs, to which he would always be glad to give a helping hand. In conclusion, he asked the people to offer what they could toward the fund for the unfortunate castaways on Russian soil and the Kosciuszko's monument.
The editors wish to apologize for not being in a position to quote verbatim this truly memorable speech. Unfortunately arrangements for a stenographic copy were not made. The public was generous with their applause for the Reverend.
Then a gay Polish air was sung by the choir. The ten-year-old son of the president of the affair gave a comic recitation entitled "A Pole Before Hell," which restored the good humor of the audience. Laughter and applause greeted the boy as he made the final bow.10
This initial attempt at commemorating an important Polish event convinced those in attendance that the newly formed parish of St. Michael is one to be reckoned with. It possesses great potentialities in this field. They realize that the organizers of this affair have made a triumphant accomplishment.
Although the time may be long before another program is planned, those that have attended this one will long cherish it in their memories. This affair will be an incentive to attend others.
The collection brought $35.13.
III C, II B 1 c 3, III B 2, III B 3 a, III G
Secondary listingsPolish // Contributions and Activities > Avocational and Intellectual > Aesthetic > Theatrical > Festivals, Pageants, Fairs and Expositions (II B 1 c 3) ?
Polish // Assimilation > Nationalistic Societies and Influences > Activities of Nationalistic Societies (III B 2) ?
Polish // Assimilation > Nationalistic Societies and Influences > Commemoration of Holidays > National (III B 3 a) ?
Polish // Assimilation > Immigration and Emigration (III G) ?
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