Vol. 9, Issue No. 28/2002

Where is our Polonia headed?
by Rob Strybel

The future of our Polish-American community will be the subject of a scholarly conference being held towards the end of October, and it is no coincidence that its venue are Polonia's Orchard Lake Schools. Originally set up to prepare Catholic priests to minister to masses of Polish immigrants flocking to these shores in the late 19th and early 20th century. Now it is a three-school campus that includes a boarding high school for boys, the coeducational four-year St Mary's College and, the SS Cyril & Methodius Seminary. The beautiful lakeside campus also contains the John Paul II Museum and a number of other military and cultural museums, the Central Polonian Archives, the Polish-American Sports hall of Fame and other Polonian facilities, landmarks and memorials.

The OL Schools are also the home of the Polish-American Historical Association and the venue of various Polonian scholarly and cultural events, living up to the label former Archbishop Karol Wojtyla once attached to them: 'Serce Polonii' (The heart of Polonia).

To celebrate this year's Polish Heritage Month, St Mary's College is hosting a three-day international conference entitled 'Quo vadis, American Polonia? - From the past to the future.' The event will be held from Thursday, October 24, to Saturday, October 26, and will feature a wide array off interesting speakers from across the US, Poland and other countries. It is being coordinated by the head of St Mary's College's Polish Department, Professor Janusz Wróbel, assisted by European coordinator B. Klmaszewski and M. Szajnert. Speakers will include the president of Poland's Polish Commonwealth Association (Stowarzyszenie Wspólnota Polska), Prof. Andrzej Stelmachowski, as well as other prominent academics, activists and journalists.

The presentations will cover a wide range of topics -- history, politics, religion, economics, culture and Polonia's self-image. They will include the place and role of Polish studies, the Polish image, cultural ventures and the media, including TV Polonia and the Polish-American Radio Network. In view of how discouraging Polonia's failed undertakings have been, a discussion of Polish success stories will undoubtedly be especially interesting. These include the Polish-American Symphony Orchestra - America's only ethnic symphony, the Polish Scouting movement of Michigan and a Polish Telephone Directory. Older participants will undoubtedly learn something from the younger-generation of activists such as Dr Maria Chrypinska who will discuss youth leadership, and Dr John Radzilowski who will focus on the prospects of a Polish-American lobby.

Accompanying the presentations and discussions will be an exhibition of the art of Ewa Pawlak and a display of books devoted to the American Polonia. Meals will be provided for participants on campus, including gala receptions on Friday and Saturday night. Unlike the typical Pol-Am socials and festivals 'which the whole family can enjoy,' the Quo Vadis conference is addressed to serious Polonian scholars and activists as well as all those who have Polonia's future at heart. It will provide an opportunity to meet new and interesting people, renew old ties and discuss issues of vital Polish-American interest.

For further information contact Dr Mariusz Szajnert at: (773) 865-7214, e-mail:

Program of the "Quo Vadis American Polonia?" conference

The Summit Times

© Copyright 2002 by Andrzej M. Salski