PAC-NJ Oplatek At Saint Casimirs
By John Czop
NEW JERSEY – After a several year’s hiatus caused by COVID 19, Mr. Andrzej Burghardt, President of the Polish American Congress New Jersey Division (PAC NJD), re-launched the Division’s annual Oplatek at Saint Casimir’s Roman Catholic Church in Newark, New Jersey, on January 28, 2024. Saint Casimir’s, Newark’s Polish Basilica, was built in 1917 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The Pastor, Very Reverend Canon Andrew Ostaszewski, Ph.D. is Chaplain of the PAC NJD. Two members of the PAC NJD, Mrs. Heidi Kopala, 2020/2021 Grand Marshal of the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut General Casimir Pulaski Memorial Parade and long serving officer of the parade’s committee, and Mr. Marek Lebelt, played key roles in re-activating the beautiful tradition of our Division’s Oplatek.
At Mass, before the Oplatek, Father Jacek, who is Secretary to the Bishop, delivered a powerful sermon on the martyrdom of the Ulma family, who were murdered in their hometown of Markowa in German Nazi occupied Poland for sheltering and assisting persecuted Jews.
Members of the PAC NJD discussed with visiting clergy the present situation in Poland in the context of the new Tusk Government and continuing Russian aggression.
Poland needs a strong advocacy organization in America this year to make it clear to all that: America and Poland are partners in freedom.
President Burghardt’s leadership will put the POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS’S New Jersey Division in the forefront of this important effort.
Photo Caption: From left to right, Very Reverend Canon Ostaszewski, Adam Stepien, Very Reverend Canon Stanislaw Walega, Ania Lebelt, Artur Kowalski, Heidi Kopala, Father Jacek Kotowski, Most Reverend Janusz Stepnowski Bishop of Lomza, Poland, Andrzej Burghardt, John Czop, Jerzy Sliwowski, and Tomasz Wojas. Photograph by Marek Lebelt.