You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Beatification ceremony draws Texans to Poland
Travelers from Texas, accompanied by Monsignor Franciszek “Father Frank” Kurzaj of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Floresville, visit the Gory Sw. Anny, Mount St. Anne, in Silesia, Poland, in June. The annual tour is sponsored by the Father Leopold Moczygemba Foundation.
Elaine M. Stephens
Special to WCNAugust 28, 2013 3,517 views Post a comment
Texan pilgrims again joined Monsignor Franciszek “Father Frank” Kurzaj, now pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Floresville, to Silesia, Poland, in early June for what has become an annual event.
This year, the Texas travelers went first to Portugal, where they visited the capitol, Lisbon, and spent two days in Fatima. The town is known for Marian apparitions that took place in 1917 when the Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children. The Texas pilgrims were honored to carry the cross and the statue of the Blessed Mother during the evening rosary prayer devotions at Fatima. They also visited the homes where Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco lived in 1917.
On June 5, the travelers left Portugal by plane for Krakow, the cultural capitol of Poland. Here, the Texas group visited Wawel Castle and Sukiennice Hall in the old center of Krakow, among other sights.
The group from Texas visited Krakow at this time to participate in a beatification ceremony. In Lagiewniki, Krakow, is a basilica dedicated to the Divine Mercy, where, on June 9, two Polish nuns were beatified -- the third of four steps in the canonization process, or sainthood, by the Catholic church. One was Sister Margaret Lucy Szewczyk, the foundress of the Congregation of Seraphic Sisters. Today, 16 of the sisters work in Texas with the elderly, poor, and needy at the St. Francis Nursing Home in San Antonio and at the John Paul II Nursing Home in Kenedy. Some serve at the retreat center at the Shrine of Our Lady of Cestohowa in southeast San Antonio. The other was Sister Sophia Czeska, who, in the 17th century, founded a congregation of nuns who dedicated their lives to the service of needy children and teenagers.
The Texas pilgrims participated in the two-hour religious event. For many of them, it was a very moving, meaningful, and memorable occasion, which will stay with them the rest of their lives.
“We met a family of Silesian Kotaras and were amazed at the similarity in characteristics and mannerisms with some of our family in Texas,” recalled Sam Kotara of Karnes City. “The countryside is beautiful, especially in spring, and their faith is very strong. There must have been a lot of oppression to make them leave such a beautiful country in the 1850s.”
Texans Andy and Joyce Rives of Panna Maria also enjoyed the trip.
“We enjoyed seeing the churches in Poland which are so similar to the architecture of our own churches near Panna Maria,” they said. “At Fatima, it was very emotional to see devoted people walking on their knees as they participated in the candlelit Living Rosary.”
In the Krakow area the pilgrim travelers also visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Jewish settlement in Kazimierz. They also stopped in Wadowice, the birthplace of John Paul II, and visited the World War II concentration camp at Auschwitz.
A high point of the visit was the opportunity for the Silesian Texans to visit the villages of those who left Silesia in the 19th century to travel to find new homes in Texas. Tears were shed when a Janysek from Texas was able to talk to a Janysek from Silesia, Poland, who traveled from Germany especially to meet their relatives from Texas for the first time. Lori Janysek Wiatrek of Cestohowa, Texas, met her cousin and afterward said, “He wants to learn about his great uncles who came to Texas for his children’s sake, just as we want to know about the Janyseks who stayed in Poland, so we can tell our grandchildren.”
The Banduchs from Poland welcomed the whole group to their home in Boronow, where homemade pastries and refreshments were offered. As a special surprise, the family prepared a large banner displaying the family tree, which included Paul Banduch, who, at age 22, married Agata Walentek in Boronow and then left for Texas, settling in Panna Maria with the first group of Silesian immigrants.
The Wiatreks, Kotaras, and Korzekwas were welcomed in Boronow, where the whole group from Texas participated in devotions in the beautiful, 17th century wooden church.
In Pluznica, the birthplace of Father Leopold Moczygemba, the Texas Moczygembas, Feluxes, Dugis, Jarzombeks, and Janyseks were in their ancestral village and were deeply moved as they visited graves, took pictures, and spoke with distant relatives.
In Ziebice, the travelers and those related to the Jendrzejs, the Jendrusches, the Lyssys, Opielas, Joschkos, Yantas, and Dragons were first introduced in church to the local pastor, Father Paul Zaiontz, and then to his parishioners. They spent the time taking photos and visiting the beautiful cemetery, re-connecting after 160 years.
The Texans also visited a replica 18th-century village at Chorzow and had the opportunity to speak with Silesian high school students using the old Silesian dialect.
“The students were very polite and asked about my occupation and how I learned to speak Polish,” said Jeff Wiatrek, a retired rancher from Cestohowa, Texas, who learned Polish from his parents. He also was interviewed by Polish radio and TV stations during the trip.
Since 1989, many groups from Texas have made this annual journey with Father Frank. His next trip will take place in June or July 2014. For information, call Dorothy Pawelek at 830-253-1029.
For more information about the Father Leopold Moczygemba Foundation, visit www.FLMFoundation.org and www.SilesianTexans.com.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Celebrate July 4 in cradle of Texas liberty (June 29, 2016)
Freedom Fest brings in big names, big fun (June 29, 2016)
Hear Keen sounds at the river (June 29, 2016)
Paint by number (June 29, 2016)
Poth church offers Bible study, services (June 29, 2016)
Stagecoach ride in Anderson (June 29, 2016)
The Falstaff years and the trucks (June 29, 2016)
Austin’s oldest museum offers daily tours (June 22, 2016)
Dine out with The ROCK (June 22, 2016)
Esparza reunion planned for July 9 (June 22, 2016)
Free guided hikes at Enchanted Rock (June 22, 2016)
Getting your hands dirty — in the garden with Iris Seale (June 22, 2016)
Men: Pay attention to your health (June 22, 2016)
Movies in the Park (June 22, 2016)
New Pioneer Playroom offers hands-on learning (June 22, 2016)
Old newspaper makes memories ‘Local and Personal’ (June 22, 2016)
Poth church to celebrate 90 years (June 22, 2016)
See Legacy of Leadership exhibit in Washington (June 22, 2016)
SS museum plans meeting (June 22, 2016)
Tips for a safe trip to the beach (June 22, 2016)
Wall pocket (June 22, 2016)
Area seniors invited to Bingo Tuesdays (June 15, 2016)
Art Walk America contest deadline is June 23 (June 15, 2016)
Attend picnic at Dewees-Remschel House June 15 (June 15, 2016)
DRT receives honors at state convention (June 15, 2016)
Hear patriotic tunes in Pleasanton (June 15, 2016)
It’s gone! The Spot is gone! (June 15, 2016)
Join WASP for summer season (June 15, 2016)
Jubilee offers fun for the whole family (June 15, 2016)
Martinez Social Club keeps you dancing (June 15, 2016)
Meet 2016 Stockdale Watermelon Jubilee, rodeo court candidates (June 15, 2016)
Moms walking group invites members (June 15, 2016)
Napoli Glass (June 15, 2016)
Oak Hills Church plans yard sale (June 15, 2016)
Ramirezes celebrate golden anniversary (June 15, 2016)
See free movies at Arcadia (June 15, 2016)
Sutherland Springs seeks volunteers (June 15, 2016)
Vendors needed for Freedom Fest (June 15, 2016)
Witness Summer Solstice performance (June 15, 2016)
Add amphibians to your landscaping (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy free summer movies at Rolling Oaks Mall (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy Pilgrim Opry (June 8, 2016)
Gene Watson in Kerrville (June 8, 2016)
Hear ‘Bach to Luckenbach’ (June 8, 2016)
Hummel plate (June 8, 2016)
June dances in Geronimo (June 8, 2016)
Meet for Play Dates in the library (June 8, 2016)
OLPH names 2016 Mother of the Year, May Queen (June 8, 2016)
Prepare to enter cool creation in Ice Cream Freeze-off (June 8, 2016)
Remember Flag Day June 14 (June 8, 2016)
Running group plans June 11 run (June 8, 2016)
St. Ann Teen ACTS plan 5K Color Run (June 8, 2016)
Take Dad out to FatherFest June 19 (June 8, 2016)
The old Wagenfuehr house in Bleu Casa Village (June 8, 2016)
Tracking an icon in the ‘horned lizard capital of Texas’ (June 8, 2016)
Building communities (June 1, 2016)
Cowboy penknife (June 1, 2016)
Garcia receives Linda West Scholarship (June 1, 2016)
Garner State Park celebrates 75 years (June 1, 2016)
Libraries prepare to launch ‘Reading Is So Delicious!’ summer program (June 1, 2016)
Lutheran Church windows relocated for a little TLC (June 1, 2016)
St. Helena Men’s Club plans picnic (June 1, 2016)
Stockdale’s early beginnings (June 1, 2016)
The progression of the classic ‘koozie’ (June 1, 2016)