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JOHN PAUL II AND OUR LADY OF LUDŻMIERZ

September 1, 2012

            Very often “The Tatra Eagle” has emphasized the special relationship that existed  between  Blessed John Paul II and  the górale, the Tatra Highlanders. It reported with pride  his dramatic visit to  Zakopane in  June 1997, when  in front of 350,000 assembled  górale,  he made a statement which will never be forgotten , “I can always count on you” (Na Was można zawsze liczyć)  There is little doubt  that as Bishop  Karol Wojtyla  decades before , had already  developed a great admiration and love for the  highlanders and their culture .  In 1964 , the year that  he became Metropolitan Archbishop of Kraków, he made this observation , “It is the only community of its kind, that bears the marks of the grand Polish tradition, and thus it simply must be permitted to live on ;  no contemporary custom, style or fashion should be allowed to ever destroy or marginalize this  great Podhalan tradition.”  These words make it clear that he  understood that the Tatra folk culture was something so precious that it needed to be appreciated and protected so that it would not  become an endangered species vulnerable to extinction.

 

         One element of this Tatra folk culture that particularly impressed  him was its brand of religiosity that emphasized devotion to Our Lady of Ludzmierz.  As early as 1234 a Church dedicated to  Blessed Mother Mary was established  in the mountain village of Ludzmierz,  which  by  c. 1400 became an important shrine  with a focus on the veneration of a miraculous wooden statue  of Mary and the Infant Jesus .  Since then the figurine of Our Lady of Ludzmierz  and the nearby healing spring waters  have  attracted multitude of pilgrims  from Podhale and beyond seeking God’s favor.   This deep faith and  devotion to Our Lady of Ludzmierz continues  unabated to the present day. On March 24, 1993,  Tatra Eagle Editors, Jane Gromada Kedron and this writer, together with their spouses, Henry Kedron, and Theresa Gromada ,  were privileged to have a private audience with John Paul II in his  private residence in the Vatican.  It was at this time that this writer had an opportunity to present his Holiness with a copy of Oskar Halecki’s posthumous book on “Jadwiga of Anjou and the Rise of East Central Europe’, which he edited  and of course,  present him with copies of our Tatra Eagle.  But what really pleasantly surprised us , was to see a replica of  the figurine of Our Lady of Ludzmierz  prominently displayed in his private apartment.  What further evidence is necessary  to prove  his  close  bond with the folk culture of the “górale” with its simple, deep fatith.

 

         But as noted above this attachment started much earlier.  The event that must have made a great impression on the future Pope  occurred on August 15, 1963 in Ludzmierz. At the behest Pope John XXIII  the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, in the presence of over 100,000 pilgrims , with the participation of over 20 bishops among them Bishop Karol Wojtyla ,  crowned  Our Lady of Ludzmierz with a golden crown, as the Queen of Podhale.  (The crown was funded by  Tatra Highlanders living in Chicago.)   Reading  a prayer that appeared in  the  April 1963 issue of the Tatra Eagle,  Cardina Wyszynski  cried out, “ Swieta Mario, Ludzmierska Panienko, Pierwszej świątyni  Podhala mieszkanko, Osiadlas tutaj miedzy goralami, Krolowo Podhala, Modl sie za name”.  (Saint Mary, Our Lady of Ludzmierz, Resident of Podhale’s first sanctuary; You have settled among highlanders, Queen of Podhale, Pray for us.)  But when the crowning ceremony ended and four bishops among them Karol Wojtyla  were carrying the statue of Our Lady  on the feretory  up the stairs back to the Church, the statue accidentally  slipped which caused  the scepter  to fall out of the statue’s grasp.  The relatively young Bishop Wojtyla with good reflexes  caught the scepter in mid air before it could fall to the ground.  Years later when Karol Wojtyla was  elected Pope, many who witnessed this incident  said that this was a sign that the Blessed Lady gave her scepter to him , symbolically predicting that he will have authority over the Church. 

 

         When John Paul II made his first  Papal visit  to Poland his  tight schedule did not permit him come to Ludzmierz itself,  since a mass assembly was organized in Nowy Targ, the capital of Podhale,  on June 8, 1979 where an astonishing crowd of over a million gathered in a nearby airport.  An outdoor altar in the “styl zakopianski” was secretly built  to the chagrin of the communist authorities.  Much to the delight of the Pontiff,  the miraculous figurine of  Our Lady of Ludzmierz was brought to this altar.  He was clearly moved emotionally.  In his homily , with tears in his eyes,  he thanked the górale for bringing “Our Lady of Ludzmierz” (Matka Boska Ludzmierska)  to him and then he praised them for being so hospitable  and responsive to the pastoral  work of the Church.  “Podhale, he said “ is a region where people flock not only to strengthen themselves physically but above all to strengthen themselves spiritually. “

He further asserted that that Our Lady of Ludzmierz is a real  “Gazdzina Podhalanska” (loosely translated ‘Matriarch of Podhale’).

 

         A historic Apostolic visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Ludznierz was  later made by John Paul II on June 7, 1997  who was greatly impressed by major renovations that were made in the previous decade due largely to the generosity of highlanders in the United States (particularly the Ludzmierz Parish Circle  ZPA in Chicago) and Canada.  He noted  with awe. in the presence of over 300,000 pilgrims,   the expansion and the beatification of the sanctuary “which is your gift to  Blessed Mary and to all pilgrims who come to Her shrine.  It is necessary for the Pope today , a Ludzmierz pilgrim himself,   to thank you  in their name for your  hospitality and generosity.  With all my heart I bless you.  Our Lady of Ludzmierz, Queen of  Podhale, pray for us”.  In 2001 just a few years before his death John Paul II  elevated  the Ludzmierz Sanctuary to the  rank of a Minor Basilica, a rare honor given  to a church by the Catholic Church.  

 

Sources:  Andrzej Florek-Skupień, “Matka Boska Ludżmierska; Królowa Podhala”,  The Tatra Eagle,  Vol. 16, No. 2, April 1963.

“Prymas Polski J. Em. Kardynał Stefan Wyszyński na uroczystościach koronacji Matki Bożej w Ludżmierzu”,  The Tatra Eagle,  Vol. 16, No.4, November 1963.

“Wizyta Redaktorów ‘Tatrzańskiego Orła’ u Ojca Świętego”,  The Tatra Eagle, Vol. 46, No. 1, Spring 1993.

“Ojciec Święty na Podhalu”,  The Tatra Eagle, Vol. 50, No.2,  1997.

 

 

Cardinal Meets a Professor

July 9, 2012

IMG_1089

Cardinal Dziwisz meets Prof. Gromada on July 1, 2012 at the Royal Manor in Garfield, N.J.   Stasia Mastny in the background.                                                                        Photo by Henry Kedron.

RECENT MEETING WITH STANISŁAW CARDINAL DZIWISZ

July 9, 2012

My wife Terry and I travelled by car  from our home in Bermuda Run, NC to Garfield, NJ in 100+ degree weather to attend a banquet honoring Stanisław Cardinal Dziwisz, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kraków, Poland scheduled for Sunday afternoon on July 1, 2012 in Royal Manor.  Many will recall that Cardinal Dziwisz served as the personal secretary of Karol Cardina Wojtyła, who  later  became Pope John Paul II (1978-2005).  In that capacity he remained for forty years.  About 300 persons attended the banquet not only to meet him but to support his current project , the creation of an “International  ‘Be Not Afraid’ Center” in Kraków which is designed to preserve the legacy of Blessed John Paul II. For more information about the Center one may contact Rev. Mirosław Król, Pastor of St. Theresa R.C. Church 131 E. Edgar St., Linden, N.J. 07036.

It was good to see and meet Cardinal Dziwisz once again.  I first met him in 1969 when he accompanied Cardinal Wojtyła on his first visit to the USA to the new Shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa, in Doylestown, PA . I  happened to serve as Master of Ceremonies at the “Karol Cardinal Wojtyła Day” program on September 28, 1969.  Subsequently met him again in NYC in 1976 and later a few times in the Vatican where he served as the Pope’s gatekeeper and more recently in Krakow as the Metropolitan Archbishop.  There is a special bond between us since we are both “górals” (Tatra highlanders). He was born in the mountain village of Raba Wyżna and I am the son of góral parents from the villages of Ostrowsko and Gronków.  Cardinal Dziwisz is an avid reader of “The Tatra Eagle” (Tatrzański Orzeł) a quarterly co-edited by my sister Janina Kedron and me.  It was my pleasure to send him  a few months ago an autographed copy of my book “Tatra Highlander Folk Culture In Poland and America” which he acknowledged with thanks.

 The next day we escaped the inhuman hot weather in New Jersey by traveling to the Green Mountain State of Vermont where we experienced not only cool, refreshing mountain weather but old fashioned Polish hospitality of my sister Janina and my brother-in-law Henry Kedron.  They own a beautiful chalet near  the Killington-Pico Peak skiing region.  Returned to hot North Carolina late on Sunday July 8, and planning later to spend some time in the Appalachian mts. in Western NC near Boone and Banner Elk, about two hours away from Bermuda Run

Folk Cultures: Are They “Endangered Species” ?

April 18, 2012

FOLK CULTURES ; ARE THEY ‘ENDANGERED SPECIES’ ??

 

Most people can easily understand and appreciate  that certain species of plants and wildlife in the natural environment can be endangered and threatened with extinction.   So they usually support   urgent government and private pleas to  take measures to protect  the imperiled natural species.  One only has to recall the popular concern for bald eagles when they were placed on the list of endangered species.

But not many people realize that there are endangered species in the human, social environment  particularly  among folk cultures.  Very rarely do we hear expressions  of concern about the  survival of folk cultures .

 

In a book, Shared Traditions; Southern History and Folk Culture  (University of Illinois Press, 1999) by Charles W. Joyner,  Emmy Campbell, native of  a Sea Island in South Carolina, is quoted, “We have become the new endangered species”.   Professor Joiner commented , “That heritage (Gullah culture) is a source of strength  that has enabled them

to cope with the hail and upheaval of life.  As we drift further and further out upon the sea of modernization, that heritage may be as crucial to our sanity and survival as to theirs.  The Sea Islanders and their folk culture have something precious to offer us if we do not destroy them first.”

 

Polish folk cultures that inspired the likes of Chopin, Moniuszko, Szymanowski, etc. are proving to be of paramount importance  to Poland’s identity today.  When Poland entered the European Union in May 2004, it became part of  twenty five member supra national community with a population  of 450 millon.  It was  a historical landmark of profound proportions, but almost immediately some Poles began to worry about the price that would be paid for joining the European Union which offered greater security and prosperity.  Would national diversity with its varieties of languages, folk traditions,  ways of life, etc.  have to be sacrificed for European unity.  Can a distinctive Polish national culture survive in this new environment with increasing globalization and mass culture.

 

Surprisingly, this concern for not losing authentic Polish culture is being expressed by many young  Polish people  who are engaged in searching for their Polish roots,  so that they can hold on to those elements that make them Polish.  Where does this search lead them to? It leads them to the regional folk cultures.  This trend has been strengthened by the now very popular Warsaw Village Band (Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa) founded in 1997 whose leader Wojciech Krzak stated,  ”After the nightmare of  Communism, we still have to fight for our own identity, and we know that beauty and identity are still in our roots.”

The members of this band traveled into Poland’s countryside, particularly in the  Mazovia region, where they sought out old folk musicians who have preserved the traditional music of the area.  They work like ethnomusicologists recording and  documenting village celebrations and then by experimentation and modern instrumentation create a music called “hardcore folk”.  This band is now gaining acceptance not only in Poland but in Europe, North America and even Asia.  In February 2012 it performed in New York and Vancouver  at the invitation of the composer, Andy Ternstein.

 

The  Village Band of Warsaw, has visited the Podhale region of Poland and performed it lowland music at a Highlander Folk Festival.  It was well received .  This encounter seemed to have encouraged young górale folk musicians  where the regional folk culture is still strong and vital,  to emulate the Village Band of Warsaw. Sebastian Karpiel-Bułecka’s “Zakopower”, and Krzysztof Trebunia-Tutka’s “Śleboda” are two musical groups from Podhale  that are captivating   European audiences with their “cool’ music based on  Tatra folk music.  There is no doubt that it is Polish folk culture that will help  assure Poland’s distinct national identity and the identity of  the Polish diaspora.   Therefore, it is important to appreciate and protect Polish folk cultures, that are “endangered species”.  They must not be allowed to become extinct.   “The  Tatra Eagle” which  celebrates its 65th anniversary this year will continue to do its best to assure the survival of Tatra folk culture.

 

Thaddeus V. Gromada, author of the new book, “Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America”,  (Tatra Eagle Press, 2012). Also available on Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

FOLK CULTURES ; ARE THEY ‘ENDANGERED SPECIES’ ??

 

Most people can easily understand and appreciate  that certain species of plants and wildlife in the natural environment can be endangered and threatened with extinction.   So they usually support   urgent government and private pleas to  take measures to protect  the imperiled natural species.  One only has to recall the popular concern for bald eagles when they were placed on the list of endangered species.

But not many people realize that there are endangered species in the human, social environment  particularly  among folk cultures.  Very rarely do we hear expressions  of concern about the  survival of folk cultures .

 

In a book, Shared Traditions; Southern History and Folk Culture  (University of Illinois Press, 1999) by Charles W. Joyner,  Emmy Campbell, native of  a Sea Island in South Carolina, is quoted, “We have become the new endangered species”.   Professor Joiner commented , “That heritage (Gullah culture) is a source of strength  that has enabled them

to cope with the hail and upheaval of life.  As we drift further and further out upon the sea of modernization, that heritage may be as crucial to our sanity and survival as to theirs.  The Sea Islanders and their folk culture have something precious to offer us if we do not destroy them first.”

 

Polish folk cultures that inspired the likes of Chopin, Moniuszko, Szymanowski, etc. are proving to be of paramount importance  to Poland’s identity today.  When Poland entered the European Union in May 2004, it became part of  twenty five member supra national community with a population  of 450 millon.  It was  a historical landmark of profound proportions, but almost immediately some Poles began to worry about the price that would be paid for joining the European Union which offered greater security and prosperity.  Would national diversity with its varieties of languages, folk traditions,  ways of life, etc.  have to be sacrificed for European unity.  Can a distinctive Polish national culture survive in this new environment with increasing globalization and mass culture.

 

Surprisingly, this concern for not losing authentic Polish culture is being expressed by many young  Polish people  who are engaged in searching for their Polish roots,  so that they can hold on to those elements that make them Polish.  Where does this search lead them to? It leads them to the regional folk cultures.  This trend has been strengthened by the now very popular Warsaw Village Band (Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa) founded in 1997 whose leader Wojciech Krzak stated,  ”After the nightmare of  Communism, we still have to fight for our own identity, and we know that beauty and identity are still in our roots.”

The members of this band traveled into Poland’s countryside, particularly in the  Mazovia region, where they sought out old folk musicians who have preserved the traditional music of the area.  They work like ethnomusicologists recording and  documenting village celebrations and then by experimentation and modern instrumentation create a music called “hardcore folk”.  This band is now gaining acceptance not only in Poland but in Europe, North America and even Asia.  In February 2012 it performed in New York and Vancouver  at the invitation of the composer, Andy Ternstein.

 

The  Village Band of Warsaw, has visited the Podhale region of Poland and performed it lowland music at a Highlander Folk Festival.  It was well received .  This encounter seemed to have encouraged young górale folk musicians  where the regional folk culture is still strong and vital,  to emulate the Village Band of Warsaw. Sebastian Karpiel-Bułecka’s “Zakopower”, and Krzysztof Trebunia-Tutka’s “Śleboda” are two musical groups from Podhale  that are captivating   European audiences with their “cool’ music based on  Tatra folk music.  There is no doubt that it is Polish folk culture that will help  assure Poland’s distinct national identity and the identity of  the Polish diaspora.   Therefore, it is important to appreciate and protect Polish folk cultures, that are “endangered species”.  They must not be allowed to become extinct.   “The  Tatra Eagle” which  celebrates its 65th anniversary this year will continue to do its best to assure the survival of Tatra folk culture.

 

Thaddeus V. Gromada, author of the new book, “Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America”,  (Tatra Eagle Press, 2012). Also available on Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

EXHIBIT AND SALE OF POLISH HIGHLANDER FOLK COSTUMES

March 19, 2012

The Tatra Eagle Press will sponsor ann exhibit and sale of authentic Polish Tatra Highlander folk costumes on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Polish Cultural Center 1-3 Monroe Street, Passaic, N.J. between 12 noon and 4 pm.  The folk costumes are from the collection of the late Jan Gromada, leader and organizer of the famed Polish Tatra Mountaineers Alliance Music and Dance Troupe of Passaic, N.J. from the 1930’s to his death in 1996.  The costumes are hand made by Jan Gromada, his wife Aniela, and his brother Władysław from Chochołów, a mountain village in the Tatra mountain region in Poland.

His son, Dr. Thaddeus V. Gromada, Professor Emeritus of European History, New Jersey City University and past President and Executive Director of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America (PIASA) will be present at the exhibit.  Tatra Eagle Press recently published his book Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America,which will be available at the exhibit and which the author will autograph on request.  All proceeds from the sale of the folk costumes will be benefit the Tatra Eagle Press which also publishes a quarterly Orzeł Tatrzański (The Tatra Eagle). 

NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT

January 29, 2012

NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT  from Tatra Eagle Press   February 2012

TATRA HIGHLANDER FOLK CULTURE IN POLAND AND AMERICA

Collected Essays from “The Tatra Eagle”

Thaddeus V. Gromada

ISBN 978-0-9849187-06        LCCN 2011944986    

The sixty-fifth anniversary of The Tatra Eagle is what prompted the compilation of this book, Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America.  It contains a collection of essays that appeared  over the span of more than half century in this unique quarterly  publication devoted to the folk culture of the Tatra Mountain region in Poland and to the Tatra highlanders (górale) who brought this culture to America in the late 19 century and early 20th century.  The essays were authored by Thaddeus V. Gromada, who founded and co-edits this periodical with his sister Jane Gromada Kedron.  He was smitten by the folk culture of his immigrant  parents Jan and Aniela Gromada that has had a significant impact on the “high” culture of  Poland.   His essays  were designed to spread the “good news” of the richness  of this folk culture not only to persons of Polish góral origin  but to all people  interested in cultural pluralism  and in getting a new and refreshing perspective on Polish culture.

The essays in the book are divided into five parts: a. Introduction b. Podhale, Poland’s “Mystical Altar”, c.  Górale and American Polonia, d.  The Gromada Family and Góral Folk Culture in America, and e. Profiles of Eminent Personalities.

 

 Advance Praise for TATRA HIGHLANDER FOLK CULTURE IN POLAND AND AMERICA

                                  

A sentimental and illuminating collection of insights about a unique mountain region of Poland which pulsates with invigorating mountain air, native patriotism, regional culture, distinctive traditions, and physical beauty characteristic both of its landscape and of its people.  Engaging to read, educational to absorb, it is the product of genuine scholarship and personal affection on the part of its editor, a distinguished Polish-American educator with deep family roots in the Tatra Highlands.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Center of Strategic and International Studies.  National Security Advisor under President Carter

    

There are many reasons to read this book.  Part family memoir, part the story of a diasporic community, and part a history of USA and Polish relations, , Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America, is first and foremost a story about human struggles and triumphs.  Drawing  from sixty-five years  of  the quarterly ,The Tatra Eagle, this book is a singular accomplishment that captures the story of the górale, the people from the Polish Tatra Mountains, the beautiful alpine region in the south of Poland on the border with Slovakia.  I personally have found  the book to be an invaluable source of information about Central Europe and ultimately about the many diasporic communities that are so vital to the USA.  This collection in a single volume of Gromada’s best articles is a real treasure.”

Timothy J. Cooley, Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of California, Santa Barbara

    

About the Author

 

Thaddeus V. Gromada received his Ph.D. in East Central European History at Fordham University. He is Professor Emeritus of European History at New Jersey City University.  He served as Executive Director of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America from 1991 to 2011 and its President from 2008 to 2011.  Member of the Editorial Board of The Polish Review;  editor and contributor of several books and author of many articles  in scholarly journals dealing with Polish-Czech-Slovak relations, Immigration and Ethnic History and Polish Tatra folk culture.  He is founder and co-edtor  with his sister Jane Gromada Kedron of the quarterly, The Tatra Eagle (Tatrzański Orzeł).  Elected honorary member of the Związek Podhalan  (Highlanders Alliance) in Poland as well as in America.  In 2000 he received the Commander’s Cross of Merit from the President of Poland.

BOOK AVAILABLE FROM ‘TATRA EAGLE PRESS’ 31 Madison Avenue, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604  tel.  336 940-5656  or 201 288-3815

tgromada@mindspring.com  or  jkedron@gmail.com

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