Greater Hazleton Area Polonaise Society
Celebrates Its Polish Heritage
Recipients of Father Garbacik Memorial Scholarship Announced
October is Polish American Heritage Month, a time for Americans of Polish descent to reflect on the contributions of our ethnic group to the American Way of Life. From discoveries in the fields of science and technology, to their successes in business or their accomplishments in the various fields of sports, notwithstanding the memories of the earliest immigrants. From the artisans in Jamestown, Virginia in October 1608 to the feats of Pulaski and Kosciuszko in the Revolutionary War against the British to the first all Polish settlement in Panna Maria in 1850. And the Polish men farmers in the old country who became the first miners in Northeastern Pennsylvania from Treverton, Shamokin, Mt. Carmel, Shenandoah, Hazleton, Nanticoke and beyond in the counties of Luzerne and Lackawanna. They were part of the group that fired the “Great Industrial Revolution”, propelling the U.S.A. into the role of leader of the world.
Sadly, each generation has lost a bit of its ‘POLISHNESS’. The names of the great grandparents have been changed; yes, even forgotten. They have become Anglicized or changed entirely. Religious affiliations have been lost. Yes, even some of the beautiful holiday traditions, as well as the recipes from BUSSIA or BABCI are no longer being served… but not by all. The Polonaise Society is one of those few in Lower Luzerne County (Pennsylvania) that tries to be certain that culture, tradition, and ancestry still matter. But we can’t do it alone, so each year in October, since 1977, we celebrate POLISH AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH along with more than 3,000 other organizations in Polonia, to make certain all is not forgotten.
Each year the Greater Hazleton Area Polonaise Society holds its’ annual Polish American Heritage Ball. This year the 36th Annual Polish American Heritage Ball was held on Sunday, October 13th at Genetti’s Hall of Presidents. The Invocation was said by Reverend Father Boguslaw Janiec, Pastor of St. John the Baptist Polish National Catholic Church. Dinner followed.
During the evening, President Thomas Kopetskie, founder and president of the Father Garbacik Memorial Scholarship Fund – a non-profit charity, introduced the Class of 2013 graduates who received awards from the Garbacik Foundation.
The scholarship recipients are as follows: Alexandria Ator, Hazleton Area H.S., accepted at St. Joseph’s U – Major: Biology, Pre Med. Track; Molly Balliet, Marian Catholic H.S., accepted at Mansfield U – Major: Chemistry; Kyle R. Steiner, Hazleton Area H.S., accepted at Keystone College – Major: Pre-Chiropractic, Eagle Scout; and Amy Skotek, Marian Catholic H.S., accepted at Kutztown U – Major: Elementary Education, Pre K-4.
Each student read an essay entitled “Why I Am Proud of my Polish American Ancestry”.
The M.C. then introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Richard Passon, esteemed Professor of English and Philosophy who recently retired from the University of Scranton who’s resume includes a B.A. from Kings College, M.A. and Ph.D. from Notre Dame University, and a career of teaching and administrative services at Creighton U., St. Joseph’s U. and Scranton U. Reverend Father Laurian Janicki, O.F.M. from the Sybertsville Monastery then delivered the Benediction, and the evening concluded with dancing.
– Tom Kopetskie