Dziennik Chicagoski -- August 23, 1893Polish Roman Catholic Union Holds Convention in Chicago First Day's Session
As early as one-thirty in the afternoon, delegates to the Polish Roman Catholic Union Convention were gathering in the convention hall. The scene was a crowded, noisy, gay one; old friendships were renewed, new friendships made, memories recalled, and past events reviewed.
At 2:30, the president of the Union, J. Kromka, of Detroit, and its spiritual adviser, the Reverend Gutowski, appeared on the platform. After the delegates, headed by the clergy, took their places, Father Gutowski spoke a few words on the importance of the convention and the need for harmony. He then said a prayer which the kneeling audience repeated after him.
Following the prayer, President Kromka spoke. He described to the delegates 2the steady growth and development of the Union during the past year, which, he said, was due entirely to the tireless efforts of its founder, Father Vincent Barzynski, the clergy, the officers, and the members of the Polish Roman Catholic Union. He called upon the gathering to acknowledge these efforts by rising from their seats, which everyone did. He added that during the past year twenty-six new societies joined the Union, and that to date the total membership is 152 societies--9,250 assessable members.
As one of the initial formalities of the convention, the president named the Credentials Committee, which included Thomas Krolik, of Chicago; I. Buzalski, of Bay City, Michigan; Michael Tomaszewski, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; W. Sobczynski, of Detroit, Michigan, and A. Chmiel, of Everson, Pennsylvania. Upon a motion by the secretary, B. Straszynski, the convention voted a half-hour recess to give the committee time to check the credentials of the delegates. Following the recess, Mr. Krolik, upon the president's request, announced that the credentials of 163 delegates, representing 205 votes, were accepted.3
Secretary Straszynski read the list of delegates as follows:
Holy Family Brotherhood, J. Manna: one vote; St. Mary's Society, Jacob Mucha, P. Ratkowski, B. Klarkowski, F. Zagrebski, F. Kaczmarek, and T. Krolik: six votes; St. Adalbert's, Bishop and Martyr, of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, M. Mellin, W. Kujawa, J. Ryband: three votes; St. Joseph's II, F. Fuhl, J. Jarzembowski: two votes; Sacred Heart of Jesus, Town of Lake, M. Andrzejewski: one vote; St. Adalbert's I, of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, W. Przybylski: one vote; St. Francis Xavier, Reverend Lange, L. Wegner: two votes; Sons of Freedom, under the protection of St. Casimir, B. Straszynski (for absentee); Holy Cross Society of St. Casimir's parish, Reverend F. Kroll: one vote; King Sigmund I Society, Vincent Klebanowski: one vote; St. Mary's of Perpetual Help, Frank Bemka: one vote; St. Casimir's [Society] of St. Casimir's parish, W. Wachowski: one vote; St. Francis Society of St. Casimir's parish, S. Kinowski: one vote; St. Isidore's, J. Trebacz: one vote; Holy Cross Society, A. Lamkowski (two votes), Paul Lewandowski (one vote): three votes; King Ladislaus Society, M. Gawron, 4W. Kosmala: two votes; St. Casimir Youth Society, W. Jozwiakowski, S. Cywinski, T. Gordon, and J. Grabowiecki: four votes; St. Anthony's, F. Szatkowski: one vote; Knights of St. Martin, Anthony Gordon: one vote; St. Hedwig's, of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, J. Puzik, J. Mrohen: two votes; Jacob Wejher Society, F. Chwarszczynski: one vote; St. Valentine's Society, J. Cyszewski: three votes; Archbrotherhood of St. Dominic, F. Czerwinski: two votes; St. Hedwig's Society, of St. Hedwig's parish, K. Armknecht, J. Jablonski: two votes; Sacred Name of Jesus Society, of St. Adalbert's parish, A. Martin, K. Bielinski: two votes; St. Cecilia Society, J. Czekala, J. Suwalski, W. Barwig, W. Grabarski, A. Huntowski: five votes; Association of Priests in America, the Reverends F. Szukalski and Edward Kozlowski: two votes; King John Sobieski Society, A. Tomasik: one vote; Holy Trinity Society, F. Wleklinski, F. Zwierzynski, W. Jedrzejek, P. Luka, Paul Giersz, J. Paszkewicz: six votes; St. Joseph's Society, St. Stanislaus parish, F. Strzelecki (two votes), H. Abraham: three votes; St. Stanislaus Kostka Society, W. Zielinski, M. Deregowski, W. Matuszak, F. Jalowy, J. Jakubowski: five votes; St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr, Society, M. Zawislanski, M. Ptaszek: two votes;5
Holy Heart of Jesus Society, St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, S. Czajka (two votes), J. Gniot: three votes; Father August Kordecki Society, W. Zwierynski: two votes; Society of the Sacred Heart of the Sorrowful Mother of Jesus, I. Skorupa, J. Malicki: two votes; St. Hyacinth's, J. Hoppa: one vote; Holy Cross Society, St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, A. Lamkowski, W. Grabarski, P. Lewandowski: three votes; St. Joseph's I, F. Fuhl, M. Siuda: four votes; St. Adalbert's Society, St. Adalbert's parish, J. Kramer: two votes; and St. Florian Krakus Society, S. Behnke: one vote. [Translator's note: All societies listed are Chicago societies. Out-of-town societies represented 111 votes; Chicago, 94.]
After the list of delegates had been read, the president declared the election of a chairman as the next business of the convention. Nominations were made immediately. Father Kroll nominated W. Jedrzejek, and J. Mucha nominated Peter Kiolbassa. Father Kroll and K. Bielinski were also nominated. On a motion by the Reverend E. Kozlowski, it was decided that a trial ballot be taken, following which the convention would elect one of the three candidates polling the 6most votes. Delegates Czekala, Krolik, and Klarkowski were appointed to distribute the ballots.
On the trial ballot, Kiolbassa polled forty-three votes, Jedrzejek forty-two, Father Kroll thirty-eight, Bielinski twenty-six, and Krolik one. On the final ballot, Kiolbassa polled seventy-two votes, Jedrzejek forty-seven, and Father Kroll forty-two. Besides these, one vote was cast for Bielinski and one for Grabarski. The president's announcement that Peter Kiolbassa had been elected chairman of the convention was greeted with repeated applause. The chairman took his place on the platform.
Mr. Kiolbassa thanked the convention for the honor it had conferred upon him. "I regard it an honor," he said, "since it is always an honor to preside over a gathering of honest men. We may not be highly educated, but we are an honest people; of this we are proud." The speaker further expressed the hope that debates would be conducted in true Christian spirit, for, "the eyes of 7our countrymen are upon us," he said. He declared that all personal matters should be put aside and that each speaker should respect the other, not shouting out of turn when things went contrary to his wishes. After twenty years as a member and officer of the Polish Roman Catholic Union, the speaker said that he knows well the virtues and faults of delegates to the Union's conventions. He said that he will be just and entirely impartial, but that he will not permit mutual interference among the delegates. Since it represents a nation, the convention is of significance before the eyes of the world. Once more thanking the convention for the honor conferred upon him, the chairman asked the convention's desire.
J. Kromka, president of the Union, spoke again. He said that after serving as president for a year, he was entrusting the care of the Union to the hands of God and to its representatives, wishing it God's blessings and continued expansion. Surrendering the gavel to the chairman, he called upon the convention to respect it and to work in harmony and unity. Upon the chairman's 8request, the delegates rose from their seats in acknowledgement of the president's services.
On a motion by Delegate Tomasik, the chairman named B. Klarkowski secretary of the convention, and Jacob Mucha sergeant at arms. Following this, he announced that next in the order of business was the reading of the annual report by the secretary. Since the hour was already very late, however, numerous voices were raised in motions for adjournment. There were still a few important formalities to be observed. The chairman read two telegrams from well-wishers, one from Milwaukee and one from Detroit.
Several committees were yet to be named. The chairman appointed an auditing committee of five, and a program committee of three.
Delegate K. Bielinski made a motion that a telegram be sent to the Pope, 9asking his blessing. The chairman directed the priests to appoint a committee among themselves to compose the telegram.
After inviting the delegates to the evening performance of "Children of Israel," to be performed especially for their entertainment, the chairman adjourned the meeting until the following day.
The Evening's Performance
In the evening, the same hall was filled to capacity--even the galleries were crowded--to witness a truly splendid performance of Szczesny Zahajkiewicz's drama, "Children of Israel".
The performance was an unusually successful one. Evidently the players exerted their best efforts before so numerous an audience, among whom were visitors from all over the United States and even from Europe. The direction of the play, 10under the author himself, was meticulous down to the finest details, and it was the general opinion of the audience that it would be difficult to find a play equaling it on the Polish-American amateur stage.
We have had many occasions to write of "Children of Israel". This time the cast was much the same as in previous performances, and to list it at this time would be needless repetition. Suffice it to say that the principal roles (especially the lead, played by Mr. V. Jozwiakowski) were performed more carefully and successfully than ever before. Newcomers in the cast were Mr. Domek, as Pharaoh, I. Kowalski, as Paha, and P. Ligman in the role of Judas. Miss Kunkowski, who played the part of Potiphar's wife (appearing on the stage for the first time, we hear), displayed a talent which our stage directors would do well to remember. The music was also excellent.
Availing ourselves of this opportunity, we will mention the priests who, as out-of-town guests of the convention, are staying among us in St. Stanislaus 11Kostka parish (Na Stanislawowie). The visiting priests are the Reverends Raskiewicz, Gutowski, Lipinski, Ponganis, Matkowski, Kozlowski, Nowakowski, Skory, Wrobel, Kobylinski, Szymanowski, Pradzynski, Szukalski, Krzywonos, Jachimowiez, Frydrysiak, Nawrocki, Miszkiewicz, Kroll, Frydrychowicz, Grabowski, Pawlowski, and the Rector Klos, from Poland.
Before the performance, the Reverend Vincent Barzynski, as host, greeted the visitors with heartfelt words and the ancient Polish motto: "Gosc w Dom, Bog w Dom" (Who receives guests, receives God). Before the curtain was raised on the last scene of the play, Father Barzynski invited the audience to attend a meeting to be held in the same hall on the evening of the following day, that is, Wednesday.
Church Services for Convention Delegates
At 8:30 in the morning, solemn services were held at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church for the delegates to the convention.12
Mass was celebrated by Reverend P. Gutowski, spiritual adviser of the Polish Roman Catholic Union. Reverend E. Kozlowski and Reverend Lipinski officiated as deacon and subdeacon respectively. Reverend Casimir Skory was the master of ceremonies. The sermon was delivered by Reverend T. Jachimowicz.
Dziennik Chicagoski, Aug. 24, 1893.
Second Day's Session
The second session of the Polish Roman Catholic Union's Convention opened yesterday, at 11:15 A. M., after the church services in the morning. The first duty of the chairman, according to the constitution, was to name a motions committee of seven..... By general request, the chairman added to this number two priests, who were to act as advisers.....
The secretary of the Union called the roll, and the secretary of the convention 13read the minutes of the previous day's session. Following this, the secretary of the Union read the annual treasury reports and the auditing committee presented its report. This last report showed the accounts of the secretary and treasurer in such perfect order that the auditing committee felt obliged to commend these officials publicly. However, it developed that upon receiving the books from his predecessor, the incumbent treasurer had received $143.09 less than the report showed. Both the treasurer and the secretary spoke on this subject, as did their predecessors. Former secretary John Manna explained that a misunderstanding had arisen which would be explained in the afternoon, and former treasurer Gniot promised to produce receipts; further discussion of this matter was postponed until the afternoon.
Since the hour was already late, the meeting was adjourned until two o'clock in the afternoon.14
The roll was called again at 2:10 P. M. Ex-treasurer Gniot produced a receipt, showing that treasurer Wleklinski had received $4,375.89 from him on August 6, 1892. The annual report for the year 1891-92, however, showed that at the time the books of the last administration were closed, the treasury account totaled $4,518.98. The shortage was $143.09.
Former secretary Manna explained how it happened. After the last convention, there were receipts and expenses still recorded by the former officials. To September 1, receipts were $2,069.20 and expenses $2,211.29. Debate continued on this matter until finally a committee was named to check the accounts. The committee--consisting of W. Dukarski, of Gaylord, [Michigan], J. Andryson, of New York, and Reverend Szymanowski--retired from the hall to check the accounts immediately.
Since the motions committee had not yet reported, minor matters were taken up.15
Delegate Bielinski demanded that the books and financial reports contain separate accounts for initiation fees and dues paid by new societies (instead of being accounted for under the general head of Income). The recording secretary was instructed to make a notation to this effect.
On a motion by Delegate Tomasik, the secretary of the Union read a portion of the minutes of last year's convention, calling attention to the motions that had not been voted upon. The case of Hopa was mentioned, to whom the last convention had voted a hundred dollars' benefit, but who had died before it could be paid to him. The question was debated whether or not his heirs were entitled to receive this money, and a petition to this effect was read to the convention. The decision was, however, that since the heirs had received six hundred dollars in death benefits, payment to them of the money which had been assigned to the man while he still lived was out of the question.
At this time, the chairman of the motions committee entered the hall. The 16three principal motions were read and debate began immediately. We present here the motions in order of occurrence. The first was to equalize death benefits for all members of the Union by establishing the death benefit at nine hundred dollars. If a member should die without having received benefit payment on the death of his wife, his death benefit is to be nine hundred dollars; but, if he has already received the usual three-hundred-dollar benefit on the death of his wife, the death benefit in his case is to be six hundred dollars. The motion was hotly debated. While some thought it entirely just, especially as far as the unmarried members are concerned, others felt that it would merely prove a greater burden and would mean further assessments. Among those who took part in this discussion were K. Bielinski, J. Czekala, and the Reverends Kroll, Szukalski, and Nowakowski. On a motion by Delegate Abraham, the question was put to a vote. An overwhelming majority voted against the change.
The second motion was that the officers of the Union be from different cities, as previously. Among those who discussed the question were Bielinski, Czekala, 17Tomasik, Manna, and Father Kroll. The motion was carried by a large majority. Delegate Barwig proposed an amendment providing that the secretary and treasurer be elected from the same city. As the vote was not decisive, a ballot was necessary. Kromka, Bielinski, and Father Nowakowski were appointed to count the ballots. The result was 116 votes against the amendment, 84 in favor, and two blank ballots. The secretary and treasurer will, therefore, each be from different cities.
The third motion provided that the reserve capital in the hands of the treasurer be never greater than two thousand dollars, all surpluses to be loaned out at interest and an account to be kept thereof. The motion was discussed by the Reverend Kozlowski, Bielinski, Czekala, Lampkowski, and others. Upon being put to a vote, it was carried. On a motion by Delegate Krolik, the constitution will be amended to this effect.
Delegate Krolik also moved that the payment of one per cent of the organization's 18funds to the treasurer be abolished. A lively discussion followed. Treasurer Wleklinski had already renounced his claim to this percentage..... The question was discussed by Jedrejek, Kromka, and others. A large majority voted in favor of Delegate Krolik's motion. Delegate Czajka moved that the treasurer be given a salary in order that he should be legally responsible for the money entrusted in his care. Again a lively discussion followed. It was moved that the treasurer pay four per cent to the Union on surpluses over the reserve fund; other motions called for three per cent. The original motion was defeated by a considerable number of votes. Delegate Kromka declared that the treasurer is entitled to some kind of income, and Delegate Czekala moved that the treasurer's salary be set at fifty dollars per year. The discussion that followed was taken up by Father Kroll, Czekala, Jedrzejek, and Bielinski. This motion was also defeated.
The committee assigned to check the accounts of former secretary Manna reported that the books held no record of income or expenses for the period of 19August 8 to September 1, 1892. Since Manna had bound himself to produce records for this period, conclusion of the matter was postponed until the next day.
As the hour was already late, motions for adjournment were in order. The chairman announced that a mass meeting would be held at eight o'clock in the evening and invited all delegates to be present. He also announced that the delegates would gather in the hall at eight in the morning, from where they would proceed together to church. With these announcements, he adjourned the meeting.
Evening Mass Meeting
In the evening a large audience, including a great many women, filled the convention hall. A selected orchestra played Polish national hymns while the chairman and secretary took their places upon the platform.20
At 8:20 the chairman opened the meeting with a speech. He spoke of the significance of such mass meetings as this, stating that they had more than once accomplished important results. At this time, a mass meeting assumes new importance, for it can be attended by visitors from all over the United States and Europe, he said. "Since we are accustomed," he continued, "to opening all of our important gatherings with an appeal to God, the parish choir will sing the hymn "Bogu Rodzica" [Kyrie Eleison, thirteenth century Polish Gregorian chant]. The choir sang this solemn hymn, from the St. Adalbert oratorio, under the direction of A. Kwasigroch. The chairman then called upon the Reverend Snigurski, who came to the stand amidst great applause as the first speaker. The reverend speaker raised the question: Why are we gathered here from all parts of the country? Why have our societies sent us? He said that those societies which belong to the Polish Roman Catholic Union must consult together on how to insure their existence in the future. "We strive to attain perfection; in order to achieve it, we combine into organizations. There are many different organizations; we do not condemn any of them, for we 21have neither the right nor the time to do so. We should look to ourselves, perfect ourselves. An organization has the right to exist if its members meet in the name of God. Any organization collapses unless it has religion for its foundation. Our motherland was built not upon sand but upon the rock that was St. Peter. Our faith was our foundation, and though our armies were smaller than others, we were powerful and a terror to our enemies. It was only when we sought other gods, when Lutheranism and Calvinism crept in among us, that dissolution and ruin came.
"Now we are scattered everywhere except in our beloved Poland. There Germans, Jews, and others have taken possession, while we are exiles in the United States, in Brazil, Argentina, Australia. When we have better understood our mission, our national existence will be easier. The mission of the Polish Roman Catholic Union is to gather Poles together in the name of God. Each man should strive to inspire his fellow to virtues, as in the early days of Christianity. It is the task of our Union not only to help us perfect ourselves.... but to teach us 22to help our less fortunate neighbors."
This beautiful address, of which we have given only the main points, was frequently interrupted by applause. It was followed by a medley of Polish national hymns, sung by the girls' choir. The next speaker was Doctor Dunikowski. He said that he had come to listen, not to speak, but since he had been called upon, he would gladly say a few words. He stated that when he was in this country last year, he not only came to know us, but to love us, in proof of which he returned, bringing several friends with him. He encouraged closer relations with the homeland. "The anniversary which we are now observing is a sad one--it reminds us of Maciejowice [1794--Battle in which Kosciusko was defeated and taken prisoner by the Russian Army]--but are we to observe it in mourning? No! We mourn the dead, and Poland is not dead," he said. The anniversary will be celebrated in Lwow [Austrian Poland] by the Kosciusko Exposition. The speaker urged participation in this Exposition, referring to the announcements he has already published regarding it. In conclusion, he stressed the necessity for perseverance in the Catholic faith and 23in patriotism, for these are the virtues that make us strong.
Dr. Dunikowski's speech was followed by an orchestral number, after which a lecture, entitled "The Need for Polish Colleges in America," was delivered by B. Klarkowski. Following the lecture, the male chorus sang a beautiful number. The next speaker was the Reverend Jachimowicz, of Omaha, Nebraska. His spirited address was vigorously applauded.
After another choral number, the Reverend Stanislaus Szymanowski, of Perth Amboy, spoke. We would like to present the entire text of his speech, but this is not possible. He illustrated, with cases from his own experience, the importance of the Church in maintaining Polish nationalism in America.
The program ended at eleven o'clock with the singing of "Boze cos Polske" (God Save Poland) by the entire gathering.24
Third Session of the Convention
After Mass, celebrated by the Reverend Grucza, of Milwaukee, the delegates gathered at the convention hall for the third day's session. The chairman called the meeting to order at 9:20 o'clock. The secretary of the convention read the following petitions and telegrams:
(1) A letter from the Polish Patriotic Youth Society, signed by its president, J. Plywaczyk, and secretary, F. P. Danisch, proposing the organization of a Youth Union, auxiliary to the Polish Roman Catholic Union.
(2) A petition regarding Polish-American participation in the Kosciusko Exposition at Lwow in 1894. It was signed by the committee consisting of Peter Kiolbassa, W. Smulski, Father Vincent Barzynski, Leon Szopinski, W. Bardonski, Doctor [C.] Midowicz, H. Nagiel, M. Drzemala, S. Slominski, M. A. La Buy, and A. Szwajkart.25
(3) A petition asking the convention's financial and moral support of the proposed Polish Day. This petition was signed by the committee from the Southwest Side, consisting of F. Smietanka and Anthony Stefanowicz.
(4) The request of Joseph Rogosz for support of his Great Book of the Polish Nation.
All of these communications were favorably received and tabled for future discussion.
The chairman next read telegrams of best wishes from Kuryer Polski, of Milwaukee, and from a number of out-of-town societies.
As chairman of the committee for checking the accounts of former treasurer Manna, the Reverend Szymanowski reported that the books were entirely in order and the $143.00 in question satisfactorily accounted for. Chairman Kiolbassa 26explained further that the reason for the old administration's remaining in office a month after the new officers had been elected was the uncertainty concerning the American citizenship of the newly elected president. It was decided that hereafter the outgoing officers would immediately turn their accounts over to the new administration. With this, the matter was dropped.
One of the important motions presented by the committee on motions proposed that the Union's official organ should be its property, and that this organ ought to be Wiara i Ojczyzna (Faith and Homeland).
Dziennik Chicagoski, Aug. 26, 1893.
Last Session of the Convention and Its Adjournment
After election of the new president, the chairman invited him to the platform and turned the gavel over to him in accordance with constitutional regulations.27
The remaining elections and the rest of the convention to its adjournment were presided over by the newly elected president. After election of a vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, it was proposed that all of the former directors be re-elected by acclamation. However, due to the absence from the convention of director J. Dardas and to the resignation of B. Klarkowski, who had accepted other duties, L. Ruszkowski, of South Bend, Indiana, and J. Rejch, of Manistee, Michigan, were nominated to replace them. These two candidates plus the three remaining directors were elected unanimously.
The president then declared that in addition to a secretary general, a recording secretary must also be elected. A short discussion followed. The question was: Should the recording secretary be of the same city as the president or the vice-president, and what additional costs would this new office entail? Finally, B. Klarkowski offered to perform the duties of recording secretary without pay, provided the cost of stamps, paper, etcetera is returned to him. His offer was gratefully accepted.28
The convention next turned its attention to the numerous letters requesting financial aid. The secretary of the convention read one of these letters and announced that there were at least thirty more like it. A lively debate over the first letter began. It was evident that everyone believed that some aid ought to be extended but many doubted, however, that the Union's treasury could stand the expense. Finally, Reverend Gutowski made a motion that the president of each society take up a collection for this purpose within his own society. The money thus collected would then be turned over to the administration of the Union, the members of which would divide it among the petitioners according to the needs of each. The motion was carried.
The chairman of the convention, P. Kiolbassa, made a short farewell address to the delegates, saying that important business compelled him to leave the hall. He thanked them for the honor they had shown him and for the exemplary harmony they had maintained throughout the convention. Minor matters still being raised on the floor prevented Delegate Czajka from making the appropriate motion. A 29motion that the Union's organ publish the names of all those receiving aid was first made, following which Delegate Czajka moved that the assembly acknowledge Mr. Kiolbassa's able and impartial leadership by rising. The chairman had already left the hall.
As their host, the Reverend Barzynski bade farewell to the delegates, expressing the hope that nothing had been lacking and thanking them for their perfect conduct. He next announced that the Pope had sent them his blessing by telegram to the Archbishop, who, at the present time, is not in the city. Father Barzynski called upon the Reverend S. Kobrzynski to bless the assembly in the Pope's name. The moment was a solemn one. The clock had just struck twelve and the church bells were ringing the "Angelus" as the delegates piously kneeled and received the papal blessing from Father Kobrzynski.
As the last business of the twentieth convention, the Reverend Gutowski, spiritual adviser of the Union, received the oaths of office from the new administration.30
After adjournment, Father Barzynski invited the delegates to lunch, and soon after twelve o'clock the convention hall was empty.
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