Polish Heritage Celebrated In Pawtucket

By on October 17, 2013

RIIMG_8053-2forwebPAWTUCKET, RI – Members and friends of the Polish-American community gathered Tuesday to celebrate Polish American Heritage Month and raise the distinctive white and red colors of that nation’s flag outside City Hall.

“Be Polish, be proud of it,” Jean Babiec, completing 25 years as chair of the committee for the event, told the group assembled in the City Hall lobby. Babiec, a retired teacher stepping down from her capacity as chairman of the Polish Subcommittee of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, introduced Renata Jarosz as her successor.

In photo on right: Renata Jarosz (left), incoming chair, smiles at a remark by Jean Babiec, stepping down after 25 years as chairman of the Polish Subcommittee of the R.I. Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission during ceremonies on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at Pawtucket City Hall for the annual raising of the Polish flag for Polish Heritage Month.

Edward Sanderson, executive director of the Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, said that thanks to Babiec and others the Polish Subcommittee was one of the first cultural panels to form under the commission, which now has now more than 20 such subgroups. Sanderson, noting he had attended many of the Polish flag raising events in Pawtucket, also congratulated Babiec on her “many years of excellent service.”

RIBabiecIMG_8093-2forwebThe Rev. Darius Jonczyk, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Central Falls and administrator for St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Woonsocket and a native of Poland, led the gathering in reciting the Lord’s Prayer, first in Polish and then in English.

Dylan Zelazo, city director of constituent services and communications, said this year marked the 405th anniversary of the first Polish settlers in America. Zelazo said the Polish-American community in Pawtucket and the Blackstone Valley had added to the area’s quality of life and the “wealth of cultures” found  throughout the region.

The group gathered outside for the singing of the Polish National Anthem and “America the Beautiful” and the raising of the Polish flag, two equal stripes with white over red that became the national flag in 1919 and traces back to 1831. They then adjourned back to City Hall for refreshments including Polish desserts.

The Polish Subcommittee’s annual cultural display will be on exhibit in the display case in the City Hall lobby throughout the month of October. The special display on Pope John Paul was compiled by Cheryl Babiec. The display is not only comprised of pictures and carvings, but also a grouping of native dolls in their native costumes from the countries that Pope John Paul visited.

– Doug Hadden
Office of Mayor Grebien