PAPA grieves the loss of two of our very active brothers and former National Officers, whom the Lord has called Home suddenly and without warning: S.P. Very Rev. Canon Joseph L. Sredzinski Former National Secretary and current member of the Board of Directors. And S.P. Rev. Monsignor Peter W. Zendzian Former National President and Vice President.
We know not the hour nor the day….
The Very Rev. Canon Sredzinski died in Krakow, Poland while leading a trip of High School Classmates on Saturday, October 10, 2015. His Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at St. Joseph Church in Uniontown, PA by The Most Rev. Edward C. Malesic, Bishop of Greensburg, PA. I was privileged to attend the Wake and Mass for our deceased brother and was moved by the many tributes given to him and his work in Polonia. His funeral was celebrated with a full church and 55 priests from many different diocese in the US, along with special letters of condolences read at Mass by Bishop Malesic from Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh, PA and retired Aux. Bishop Ryszard Karpinski of Lublin, Poland
The Rev. Monsignor Peter W. Zendzian, Pastor of St. Matthias, died suddenly in the rectory the morning of Friday, October 23, 2015. His Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at St. Matthias Church in Ridgewood, NY by The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. His funeral was attended by many of the Faithful, along with 76 priests and seven Bishops. Once again, many moving tributes were payed to our beloved brother for his untiring work in The death of these two hard working and active priests in Polonia leaves a void in our organization and in Polonia as well. May their examples inspire us to work more fervently in the Polonia and in the Church. Please pray for them often, especially during the month of November as we remember our Beloved Dead.
7 July 2014
Dear Brother Priests of PAPA,
I am sure you have heard about the death of one of our “Legends” in Polonia, ks. Infułat Stanisław E. Milewski. While Msgr. Millie was still with us, he instructed me, to prepare a letter detailing the circumstances of his death. Msgr. hoped and prayed that circumstances would permit you to attend his funeral. Here is a synopsis of what has transpired in the last 18 days.
On June 19th, while getting ready to go to the Polish Sports Hall of Fame Banquet to deliver the invocation, Msgr. Millie began to experience great difficulty breathing. Those with him advised him that an ambulance should be called which of course, he refused. While making his way down the stairs to his car, to be taken to the hospital, Msgr. Collapsed on the stairs, just short of the main floor. At that time, a 911 call was placed and the paramedics arrived to assess him and take him to the hospital. During this entire time, Msgr. was alert but still was having great difficulty breathing. At 5:52 p.m., Msgr. left the campus by ambulance for the last time but not before he imparted his blessing upon us from the ambulance.
Due to his declining health status, the paramedics decided to take Msgr. to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital instead of Beaumont Hospital which was the choice of Msgr. Millie due to his doctor’s affiliation with the Beaumont. Upon admittance to the hospital, it was discovered that Msgr. Millie was suffering from at least three different health problems, including a very serious and contagious infection in his bladder, fluids in the lungs and the most serious of all, a rare blood disorder called Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura or TTP. This rare blood disorder causes blood clots to form in small vessels throughout the body which limits or blocks the flow of oxygen rich blood to the body’s organs. This increased clotting uses up platelets in the blood, which can cause bleeding throughout the body and/or lead to a rare form of anemia. It is not clear what triggers TTP but one of the causes is infection in the body, which Msgr. Milewski had for at least two weeks before his hospitalization.
After two separate 5 day long treatments called plasmapheresis, in which the plasma is separated from the blood and removed and replaced with good plasma, failed, the doctor, on Saturday, July 5th, 2014, informed Msgr. Millie that there was little more that could be done to save his life. Msgr. Milewski himself decided that he would leave this in God’s hands as he was ready to go to the Lord if that be His will. In fact, Msgr. Millie often prayed aloud, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, come and take me.” After Msgr. Millie consulted with his doctor and health care proxies, he was placed in Palliative Care or comfort care around noontime on July 5th, 2014.
On Sunday, July 6th, 2014 at 4:36 and 45 seconds, shortly after being anointed one last time and the Commendation of the Dying prayers were prayed for him by Fr. Ptak, our beloved Msgr. Millie, left this world to “go to the Father’s House”. Thus, the life of a “Legend in Polonia” came to an end along with a lifetime plus of faithful service to God, Church, Polonia and Orchard Lake.
Please remember Msgr. Milewski in your prayers and Masses often. You all know how much he loved Polonia and PAPA. He faithfully served us as National Treasurer for 6 years and as Convention Chairmen in 1993 and 2003. Know that he was and is grateful for all you have done for him over the years and that he treasured your love and friendship. Be assured of his prayers for you until we see him again in the fullness of the Kingdom.
Wieczny odpoczynek racz Mu dać Panie…..
Fr. Walter J. Ptak
Niech Bedzie Pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!
Almost two years have passed since the current officers and board of directors were elected during the Convention in Indiana, my how time flies! In the near future, the next edition of our PAPA Bulletin will be mailed out. Special thanks to Msgr. Milewski for spearheading this project once again! For the next edition, I invite you to consider sending an article to Msgr. Milewski as your news is always welcome and appreciated. Also, the annual dues notice is being mailed out, please renew today. There is also a link on this website to pay online through paypal if you would like to do so.
I am sure that all of us are excited and offering our thanks to God that our beloved John Paul II is being canonized this Spring and will now be numbered among the Saints in glory. His holiness has brought much joy and peace into the world and has been a shining light to so many living in darkness. Our annual convention would have conflicted with this historic event and so in consultation with the officers, board members and the host committee, it was decided to forgo this year’s convention. This will enable us to either be at home with our people or be in attendance in Rome as Pope Francis proclaims our “Lolek”, St. John Paul the Great!
Next year, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of PAPA and the annual convention will take place in New Britain, CT and our host will be Msgr. Daniel Plocharczyk and his committee. Please mark April 13th – 17th, 2015 on your calendars and plan to attend. More information will be provided as the date approaches.
At our last convention, we discussed the need to update our website and keep it current as a way to keep our members and others informed about our organization. I am happy to report that this has been accomplished and you can see what has been done. As in most other things, it is a work in progress and I invite your comments and suggestions so that it may be even better! Please check back here often to keep in touch with PAPA events and activities.
Many thanks for all that you do for Polonia in your area of the country. Together we can and do make a difference. May God reward your efforts and Our Lady, the Queen of Poland be at your side as you minister so faithfully to her Son’s people.
May the remainder of this Holy Season of Lent be fruitful for you and may all the joys of Easter be yours in abundance. Wesołego Alleluja!
Looking forward to seeing you next April at our annual convention in Connecticut!
Fr. Walter J. Ptak
Polish American Leadership Summit
By Fr. Walter J. Ptak
On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 11th & 12th, a meeting of the leaders of the major groups within Polonia in the United States was held in Pittsburgh, PA. This Leadership Summit was brought about through the efforts of Dr. Don Pienkos, PhD and put forth by the Wisconsin Division of the Polish American Congress in May, 2013. Don was joined in this endeavor by Tim Kuzma who sought and received support from the National Executive Committee of the PAC, of which he is National Secretary and President of the Polish Falcons of America. Tim was also responsible for much of the ground work for the Summit and he also secured the participation of Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf from the Republic of Poland who was with us during the Summit. In September of 2013, Dr. Barbara Anderson of the PAC Washington, D.C. Office joined Don and Tim in making this meeting a reality. It is important to note that all but one of the groups invited was represented and participated in this historic Summit.
The aim of the Summit was to engage the leadership of Polonia to come together to discuss the issues and challenges facing the Polish American Community in a substantial and open manner. Secondly, to develop, agreed upon and effective responses, to the challenges facing Polonia and Poland in the 21st Century.
After formal introductions given by all present, the following groups (chosen for the Panel discussion before the Summit gathered) presented their views on the greatest challenges facing the Polish American Community today: Tim Kuzma, Polish Falcons; Nick Sadowski, Polish Daily News; Deborah Majka, American Council for Polish Culture; Fr. Walter J. Ptak, Polish American Priests Association; Thaddeus Radzilowski, Piast Institute and Polish American Historical Association.
The second day of the Summit was dedicated to small group discussion on five important topics concerning Polonia. After discussing these issues in four breakout groups, the results were brought back to the whole group for comment and or further discussion. At the end of day two, cut short by the approaching snow storm, we decided to wait until the information we had share was tabulated and distributed to all participants before the next step was decided upon. All were in agreement about the positive outcome of this first Summit.
This meeting is a new beginning for Polonia to come together and work side by side for the good of all who make up this large group in our American Society. Together we can and will accomplish many things. Alone, the future is not so bright. More information will follow as it becomes available.
The participants of the conference were as follows: Barbara Anderson, PAC Washington D.C.; Dorota Andraka, Polish Supplementary School Council of America; Anthony Bajdek, Polish American Congress; Alex Fiedotjew, National Advocates Society/National Medical and Dental Association; Gregory Fryc, Pangea Alliance; Irene Jugan, Polish National Union; Jim Kaczynski, Polish American Journal; Bożena Kaminski, Polish American Congress; Ewa Koch, Polish Teachers Association; Timothy Kuzma, Polish Falcons; Susanne Lotarski, American Polish Advisory Council; Msgr. Thomas Machalski, The Orchard Lake Schools; Deborah Majka, American Council for Polish Culture; Donald Pienkos, Polish National Alliance; Mary Kay Pieski, Kosciuszko Foundation; Fr. Walter Ptak, Polish American Priests Association; Thaddeus Radzilowski, Piast Institute/Polish American Historical Association; James Robaczewski, Polish Roman Catholic Union of America; Nick Sadowski, Polish Daily News; Jan Saykiewicz, Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America; Anna Sokolowska, Polish Roman Catholic Union of America; Sharon Zago, Polish Women’s Alliance of America.
St. John Paul II, pray for us
What a joy it is to begin this column with the above exclamation! Later this month, on the Feast of Divine Mercy, a feast which he instituted and on the vigil of this feast in 2005 in which he went forth to His Father’s house, our beloved Holy Father will be proclaimed a Saint! In order to prepare for this historic celebration, I thought I would share with you my first experience with Blessed John Paul II and some of my thoughts and experiences with our newest Saint. Those who know me well know that he is at the top of my list of favorite persons and for sure, my #1 Hero!
In the autumn of 1978, I was beginning my senior year of High School when the sad news came that Pope John Paul I, the smiling pope, had died after a month in office. This sadness was soon replaced by joy at the election of Cardinal Wojtyła of Kraków, who took the name of Pope John Paul II. As he burst on to the world stage with such strength of character, I knew things would never be the same. For about a year, I had been thinking about the priesthood quietly and his election was the last push I need to make me realize that I probably had a vocation to the priesthood and to do something about it. I credit his example and election as the main reason that I am a priest today. Looking back, I can say that I am in the first group of priestly vocations of the John Paul II era in the church.
A year later, I found myself enrolled at St. Mary’s College, Orchard Lake, in the Program of Priestly Formation at the Polish Seminary. When it was announced that Pope John Paul II would visit America that October, all of us in the seminary at Orchard Lake made the trip by bus to be there with him in our nation’s capital. This would be my first “live” look at him and what an impression, he made! Since the crowds were so large, we knew our chances would be slim to get up close to him, so a clever plan was devised. The transitional deacons with us found out where the Pope would spend the night and we went immediately to that place and began to sing Polish Folk songs outside of his overnight residence. Within a few minutes, Pope John Paul II appeared in the window and imparted his blessing to the now sizable crowd that had gathered. His appearance bolstered those of us there and we wanted more. We began to sing louder and with more passion as “our” Holy Father stayed with us as we serenaded him with our Polish songs. After some time, the Pope gestured his approval and blessed us again and the curtain closed. As we were preparing to leave, beaming from the experience, the front door opened and Pope John Paul II was heading toward us. A startled Secret Service entourage scrambled into action and stopped the Pope before he could reach us. This confirmed the often reported fact that the new Pope was indeed the “people’s Pope” and we were well pleased! That first meeting with our future Saint is as vivid today as it was some 35 years ago when it happened in Washington, D.C.
Over the ensuing years, I was fortunate enough to meet Pope John Paul II about a dozen more times in Rome, up close and in person. Each time was special and meaningful and to be in his presence was a unique blessing I will never forget. He had a real sense of holiness about him and a way to make one feel at home and very comfortable in his presence. Being present in his private chapel for morning Mass a few of those times is still indescribable and the thought of those privileged moments gives me ‘goose bumps’ to this day.
Over the many years of his extraordinary Pontificate, watching him grow old and suffer was never easy. Looking back on it now, he showed us how to live courageously with extreme suffering and we watched and learned. He faced suffering head on, never looking for the “why” of suffering but rather the “how to”, setting an example to follow. He remained faithful to the end, trusting in Divine Mercy and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
My last encounter with him took place in November of 2004, about five months before his death. I was privileged to have two of my nephews with me during that small group meeting with him inside the Papal Apartment. It was very apparent that he was suffering greatly, yet he took the time out to greet and bless our group, each one individually, as he continued to fulfill his role as Vicar of Christ among us. I often return in my mind, to that last meeting with him and thank God for him and his ministry among us. Indeed, he changed the face of the papacy and the Church forever and brought so many people back to the Church and sacraments.
I am looking forward to his canonization for many reasons and know it will be the crowning event of his life. However, his influence on the Church and the world will not come to an end with this historic event but will rather be a continuation of what began long ago on May 18th, 1920 when Karol Józef Wojtyła first made his appearance in this world in Wadowice, Poland. Hold on, the best is yet to come….. Saint John Paul the Great, intercede for us!