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2020 Virtual Sharing of the Oplatek

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Thank you to everyone who attended our Virtual Sharing of the Oplatek on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020!

Please enjoy the following highlights and photos (screenshots!) from the event.


Prayer and Message from Fr. Timothy Whalen, PFA National Chaplain


A Polish Christmas Tradition: Sharing of the Oplatek


Remarks by Trish Del Busse, PFA National First Vice President

Ordinarily, we would walk around, share the Oplatek, hug, kiss and offer each other a very Merry Christmas and good wishes for the New Year. This year is quite different and very challenging in so many ways. But we are still gathering (even though virtually) and it is still the most wonderful time of the year!

I would like to offer a few reminders from books and movies:

  • The true spirit of Christmas lies in our hearts!
  • Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we cannot see!
  • The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!
  • Christmas isn’t just a day; it is a frame of mind!

Christmas gift suggestions:

  • To your enemy, forgiveness.
  • An opponent, tolerance.
  • To your friend, your heart.
  • A customer, service.
  • To all, charity.
  • To every child, a good example.
  • To yourself, respect.

Jesus is the reason, Christmas is the Birthday of our Lord.

And so, this Christmas season may our hearts with gladness glow, as we remember the blessed story that took place so long ago. This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ child. Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide-open heart that thinks of others first.

John and I along with our family Wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Wesolych Swiat!

I usually wish a Happy, Healthy New Year, but this year, I will also add out with the old and in with the new!

Hopefully, 2021 will bring us much optimism, joy and prosperity. Instead of wishing for an extraordinary 2021, let’s pray for a somewhat ordinary 2021!

Czolem!


Cicha Noc (Silent Night) (Video Credit: Polish Eagle)


Special Message from Larry Kozlowski, PFA Cultural Commissioner


Photos (Screenshots!) from the Event

Click to enlarge.

Additional Carols:

Virtual Sharing of the Oplatek

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You’re invited to join us virtually for a beloved Polish Christmas tradition – sharing of the Oplatek wafer – on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. eastern.

This virtual “Sharing of the Oplatek” is free and open to all. Gather via Zoom to wish one another a blessed Christmas, good health and good fortune, offer forgiveness, and look towards a New Year.

Make your own Oplatek wafer, use a cracker/cookie of your choice – or request a wafer from us.

Click here to learn more and register.

Druhna Chris: Memories

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Druhna Lottie Fik was an amazing person. She was a great leader in the Polish Falcons of America. I am glad I was able to participate in the events that she planned and organized. As a youth in her gym class, I remember many events where Druhna had us out on a field in the beating sun getting ready for a mass exhibition for a Zlot. I remember holding my arms out at shoulder length for a long time – so that we would remember that when you did the National Drill, you had your arms at shoulder height and straight. We marched until we were about to drop over, but when we marched out on that field for the exhibition, we were a sight to see! Druhna was tough, but the events she planned were an important part of my youth, and I thank her for every single minute she put into making them a success.

I remember when Druhna would come to Pittsburgh for a District IV gym class to get everyone ready for the National Zlot. I was not a particularly good gymnast. I was not the first one picked to do special things on the mats or to be the center of the pyramid. In fact, I usually held someone else up doing something complicated and cool. But nevertheless, I would attend the practices when Druhna Fik would come. I never thought that she knew who I was or that I was a part of the gym class in Pittsburgh. It was just exciting being a part of the group.

Then a few years back, I was attending a National Bowling Tournament and I ran into Druhna Fik while I was there. I will never forget this moment because she made me feel so special. We both said hello and were riding the bus to the club, so we sat together. The thing that stuck with me the most was that she knew who I was and where I was from. She said, “So here is my Pittsburgh protégé taking over the National Instructress position. I am so proud of you.” I was so surprised to know that she knew who I was and that I was from Pittsburgh that I just beamed with pride and of course a few tears in my eyes. We rode the bus to the club, and she told me she was proud of me taking over and that she enjoyed seeing all the photos from the events I had already run.

It was not until I started working as the National Instructress that I realized how impressive Druhna Fik was. I know how hard and time consuming it is to get just a fraction of the people of the PFA organized and attending a Volleyball Tournament or a National Zlot or Camp for a week. She had many more participants whom she had to organize. She was always full of energy and happy to be at a Falcons event. I am so glad that I got to ride the bus with her at the Bowling Tournament and to know that she was proud of me! I am immensely proud to have had her as a mentor during my youth in the PFA gym classes.

VP Trish: The Falcon Seal

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The emblem recognized as the official seal of the Polish Falcons of America was adopted by the organization in 1914. At the time, the emphasis of the Polish Falcons went beyond its traditional physical education activities among the youth, and into the mobilization of an army of Polish Americans prepared to fight for Poland’s independence in World War I.

In the emblem, the Falcon bird is shown breaking Poland’s chains of enslavement by use of arms. Behind the bird is a sword and bayoneted rifle. The physical education aspect of the organization is depicted by the dumbbells in the bird’s claws. To the left are the laurels of victory and to the right are the initials (ZSPwA), which stand for the original name of the organization – the Alliance of Polish Falcons in America (Zwiazek Sokolow Polskich w Ameryce). In the background is the burial mound in Krakow of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the patron of the Polish Falcons. The mound is brightened by the sunshine of freedom.

The words in the circle surrounding the emblem, “Czolem Ojczynie Szponem Wrogowi,” translate to “Hail to the Fatherland — Talons to the Enemy,” one of the historic phrases of the Falcons.

The seal is a reminder to the Polish Falcons of today of their forefathers’ dedication to the principles of physical education, the love of their homeland — Poland, and their willingness to give their lives so that Poland may be free.

As time goes by, I am going to post information regarding the Polish Falcons that many of you may not know, or even if you do, will serve as a nice reminder.

This seal is my absolute favorite; I use it quite often.

I am hoping all goes well with the Districts in having their first (for most of us) virtual District Plenary Meeting.

A Bit of Insurance Lingo!

  • Insured – the benefit is on this person for when he/she passes away
  • Beneficiary – the person or persons who will receive the benefit (financial) when the insured passes away
  • Contingent Beneficiary – the person who will receive the benefit if both the insured and the primary beneficiary are deceased

Keep safe and healthy! Czolem!

Strawberry Recipes

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Celebrate the final months of summer with these easy and delicious strawberry recipes by Robert Strybel, our Warsaw Correspondent.

Strawberries and Sour Cream (truskawki ze śmietaną): Hull, wash and drain 1 qt. ripe strawberries. Slice thin into a large bowl and sprinkle with several t. or T. (your choice to taste) granulated or confectioner’s sugar. Toss gently and let stand at room temperature (but not in direct sunlight) for 2 hours or more. Fill fruit bowls and top each portion with a dollop of sour cream (or top American-style with whipped cream).

Homemade Strawberry Soda (domowa oranżada truskawkowa): If using very ripe strawberries in the previous recipe, a good deal of syrup will form. You can drain it off and mix with cold club soda for a refreshing soft drink that is tastier and healthier than artificially flavored store-bought soda. Drop in a few whole strawberries for visual appeal.

Super-Easy Strawberry Torte (najłatwiejszy torcik truskawkowy): Even young children can prepare this dessert and have the satisfaction of saying, “I made it myself!” Prepare fruits as in Strawberries and Sour Cream recipe (optional: drain off syrup for use in homemade soda or as ice-cream topping). Spoon strawberries over plain store-bought sponge-cake and top with aerosol-type whipped cream. Decorate top with a few whole strawberries.

VP Trish: Making a Difference

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Just about from the beginning of life, people (in addition to family members) make an impact on you. Quite often, these people are teachers but more for me were Falcon Leaders. Druhna Lottie Fik was someone who made a tremendous impact on me while growing up. (Many of you will agree!)

Back when I was young, we were afraid of authority figures. Druhna was not to be messed with but in time, one learned to respect her, not fear her.

Druhna Fik was truly an amazing woman way ahead of her time. In my opinion, she was very blessed to be married to Stanley (as he was to be married to her!). Think about this, in 1962 after 22 years of marriage and three children, Lottie became only the second woman to be a Chief Instructress of the Polish Falcons. This required quite a bit of travel!

Druhna held this position from 1962 until 1981. During this time, Druhna worked with three men – Edward Biestek (1960-1963), Gustav Pieprzyny(1963-1970) and Edmund Pett (1971-1981).

Back in those days, Druhna would write a new drill for each girls’ division every four years. Each National Zlot would have a new routine. These routines were beautiful and done to Polish music. My favorite is still the ball drill that we performed in 1972 at Notre Dame. I can remember Druhna giving the commands and counting in Polish. Marching was a big deal and I loved the way we marched!

Gymnastics was a major part of our program and Druhna wrote optional routines for each piece of equipment – high low bars, balance beam, vault and free-ex. Talk about creativity and talent.

Our National Drill has changed throughout the years. When Poland was still under Communist rule, the drill had only three rotations symbolically not facing the west. When we added the fourth turn, we needed to find an ending for the drill. At an Instructors’ meeting hosted by Druhna Marian Weslowski, we worked on the drill. Druhna Fik was there and suggested the ending that we still use.

It was always wonderful to spend time with Lottie, she always had a smile and was very supportive. Druhna even bowled in the National Bowling Tournaments. When Druhna Marian started National Camp in Angola, N.Y., Druhna Lottie was there helping with singing and dancing. Talk about dedicated! Druhna was 80 years old, sleeping on a cot in a cabin with several other women!

Even after Druhna retired, her involvement continued. She attended National Zlots helping with the youth Members from her Nest and District, as well as Instructors Clinics hosted by Druhna Marian. I have fond memories of Druhna calling me to discuss music and other things pertaining to the youth programs.

Even though most of us hadn’t seen Druhna in a while, so many of us still thought of her and asked about her often. Druhna Joan Beilfuss of Nest 907 (who spent many summers with Lottie) used to keep me posted. Obviously, her daughter Felicia and other family members would share Lottie stories.

Druhna Lottie’s legacy will live on. She was an amazing, strong wonderful woman who touched the lives of so many!

May Druhna Lottie rest in peace! Czolem!

PACCF Online Cultural Program

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The Polish American Congress Charitable Foundation is sponsoring an Online Cultural Program for American teenagers, ages 13-17, in cooperation with the School of Polish Language and Culture at Jagiellonian University. The program will include 30 hours of Polish language, 20 hours of virtual sightseeing tours, cooking classes, Polish holiday traditions, song and dance, games and online quizzes.

Registrations must be received by June 10th and space is limited. For full details including eligibility and cost, please click here.

VP Trish: Falcon Pins

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One of the questions frequently asked is how to wear your Falcon pins. Simply, wear over your heart and the highest office pin you hold is at the top. You also wear the latest pin you have received; technically, once you are Legion of Honor, you no longer wear your Star of Merit pins.

If you wear a flag pin, (American and/or Polish) it would be uppermost on your lapel.

Any questions, please let me know by emailing vptrish@polishfalcons.org.

Keep safe and healthy!

Czolem!

VP Trish: Legion of Honor

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So while I am “stuck” at home and working remotely, I have been extremely busy. I do go into the office on occasion, but most of the time I have been in my office in Ginger Hill, Pa.

The project that has occupied the majority of my time is creating an Excel spreadsheet of the award recipients by Nest. Our new insurance program (which is 3 ½ years old) is not conducive to our awards program.

This is a lengthy project with having to input each name and each award date. It is so interesting and so much fun walking down memory lane. It is also fun to figure out names, sometimes at the beginning the name is Jozefa but by the end Josephine or Jan becomes John. Still fun! And then of course, women marry, divorce, remarry and so on.

I have done over 90 Nests. It is very interesting when Nests are merged or dissolved. There was one Nest that had a three Nest merger, but prior to that there were two Nests who had gone into one of the three.

Sadly though, so many Nests do not participate in this program. Now, there are quite a few who do and their pages were very time consuming (which is a good thing!). I am asking all of you to please acknowledge your workers. The thing of it is that the Stars of Merit are a pat on the back and acknowledgement that their dedication and work is recognized. By the time one reaches the Legion of Honor levels, the Member has shown extra effort needed for the Polish Falcons to survive for over 130 years! Legion Members are the most dedicated and supportive Falcon Members. They deserve recognition!

“The purpose of the Falcon Legion of Honor is the preservation and fostering of the noble ideals, principles, traditions, precepts and customs of the Falcon Order, as defined by its’ founders and originators. Those Members entitled/qualified for the honor are the deserving men and women who by their untiring sacrifice have worked within the Falcons and among Polonia gaining respect and esteem. They have also shown integrity and an unimpeachable character to obtain the finest reputation amongst the Falcon Members.”

Druh Walter Pawlak (Nests 8, 41 & 69) proposed the establishment of an order of merit for recognizing dedicated Falcons and their services. The Legion idea was strongly supported by Dr. T.A. Starzynski. The idea was presented at a Special Convention held in Detroit, Michigan in 1925.

There are two levels of our awards program – the Star of Merit and the Legion of Honor.

One must be a Member for at least three years (and be active) and at least 18 years old to receive their Bronze Star of Merit. Five years later, one may be elevated to Silver Star of Merit and five years later, Gold Star of Merit. The Member is nominated by their Nest; the application is sent into National Headquarters. If the National Executive Committee approves these applications, a pin and certificate is sent to the Nest for presentation to the Member.

This means, at a minimum, a Member qualifies for the Legion of Honor Cross after at least 18 years of uninterrupted Membership in the Polish Falcons of America. Work in other organizations, whether political or professional, cannot be the main consideration. Activities within the Nest are the main criteria for being considered for the awarding of the Legion of Honor or an elevation. Outside activities may be listed for informational purposes.

The Legion of Honor process requires more. Five years after the Gold Star of Merit, the Member may be nominated for their Bronze Legion of Honor. Not only is one nominated by their Nest (or in some instances, their District), the Executive Committee must approve before the Members of the Legion of Honor Commandery also review and approve the applications. The Nest/District will then receive a card, lapel pin, ribbon and certificate to present to the deserving Member.

Each District has a representative on the Commandery. Recently, Druh Edward Ciesla of District I was elected to the position of Grand Master. Druh is the District I representative as well as the Grand Master.

The current Legion of Honor Commandery is:

  • District I-Edward Ciesla (also Grand Master, pictured right)
  • District II-Joan Beilfuss
  • District IV-Thaddeus Kokoski
  • District V-James Sokolowski
  • District VI-Nancy Chiszar
  • District VII-Thomas Washington
  • District IX-Geraldine Wilson
  • District XIII-Joan Pawlukiewicz

Applications are available by contacting me or by clicking here. The website has fillable applications that you may fill, print out, and mail in.

Obviously, not all of the Commandery Members knows all the applicants. This makes it extremely important that the application is full of as much information regarding the applicants’ activity as is possible.

It is always nice to present the awards in a group setting but that isn’t always possible. Banquets, installation of Officers, picnics, parties, even living rooms!

If you have any questions at all, please contact me. I would be more than happy to help as would our Grand Master, Druh Ciesla (cieslaed@rcn.com).

Keep safe and healthy!

Czolem!

#GivingTuesdayNow: Support your Nest!

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05/12/2020 Update: Contributions now being accepted through May 31, 2020.

Support your Nest!

#GivingTuesdayNow (May 5) is a global day of generosity and unity, a day to come together and give back in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19, no matter who or where we are.

If able in this difficult time, PFA National Headquarters is asking Polish Falcons Members to make a contribution to support their Nests.

Our Nests have been closed for five weeks or longer. There is little or no income and bills still need to be paid. How much would you have spent at your Nest over the course of five weeks? Are you able to donate that amount or a portion of it?

Today through May 12, let us come together as Falcons for our Nests. This is your chance to show support for your Nest and make a donation to help the Nest get through these challenging times. No amount is too small. Thank you for giving.

Click here to make your contribution.