Posts Tagged ‘Education’

‘My Mother’s Secret’ Bestseller Covers Heroic Acts to Safeguard Jews During WWII

18 June 2013 - By

From Christian Newswire: My Mother’s Secret, by J.L. Witterick, has been recognized by The Globe and Mail of Canada as a bestselling non-fiction book.

My Mother’s Secret honors two women who saved many Polish Jews from certain death. The book is based on the true story of Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter Helena, who are honored as The Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jewish heroes who risked their lives to save the lives of Jewish citizens.

After 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland and started the persecution of the Jewish population, Franciszka and her daughter provided shelter to Jewish individuals and families, as well as a German soldier, all acts punishable by death. With courage and cleverness, they outsmart the Nazi commander and their collaborating neighbors.

My Mother’s Secret is a powerfully written story and has been chosen to be used as curriculum in studies by Middle East exchange students. The book has also been awarded Rising Star stature by iUniverse.

Rabbi Chaim Boyarsky said, “In My Mother’s Secret, a new level of heroism is revealed … heroism where no ‘wow’ or admiration was given. True heroism is when no one sees or knows! A truly inspiring and breathtaking book.”

“My Mother’s Secret is heroism defined. It is just so much more cherishable because it is a story based on fact. We are indebted to Jenny Witterick for sharing this book with us,” says Grady Harp a Top 50 Amazon Reviewer.

“My Mother’s Secret has a strong message about finding good in the midst of the most unbelievable evil,” adds one reviewer.

The author, J.L. Witterick, encountered the true story of heroism during the Holocaust because of a chance viewing of a documentary about the Holocaust. Witterick is not the usual author; she is the President of Sky Investment Counsel, one of the largest international money managers in Canada, was President of the Toronto Society of Financial Analysts in 1995/1996 and is a Certified Financial Advisor Charterholder.

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Friends Union String Band at the Shaker Heritage Site in Albany

18 June 2013 - By

Please consider joining the Friends Union String Band for an epic Music At The Meeting House Concert with some Shaker Wit and Wisdom at the Historic 1848 Shaker Meeting House, 25 Meeting House Road (next to Albany International Airport), Albany on Saturday, June 22nd, 7:30 P.M. The suggested donation is $15. Please call (518) 456-7890 for more information.

The Friends Union String Band features renowned Adirondack hammer dulcimer, 6 and 12 string guitar and vocalist, Rod Driscoll, along with Melbourne, Florida based master guitarist and bhodran player, Norma Rodham and fiddle master Steve Iachetta. Friends Union String Band will perform innovative and traditional dance music in a coffee-house setting at the Shaker first settlement special performance place.

The Shaker Heritage Society is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.


24 April 2013 - By

Over 30 years ago the United States Information Agency (USIA) worked with private partners to produce a TV film, “Let Poland Be Poland” to show support for the Solidarity movement and the Polish people following the imposition of martial law. The film features Frank Sinatra singing the Polish folk song “Wolne Serce” in Polish and English as well as Max von Sydow, Romuald Spasowski, Ronald Reagan, Tip O’Neill, Bob Hope, John Fraser, Glenda Jackson, Zdzislaw Rurarz, Charlton Heston and Orson Welles echoing the title, “Let Poland be Poland.”

On the varieties of Catholicism

24 April 2013 - By

From The Christian Century: Catholics without popes by Julie Byrne

On February 11, comedian Stephen Colbert asked historian Garry Wills if he was in favor of the next pope being not John Paul III or Benedict XVII but “Nobody the First.” Wills smiled and said, “Ah, very good idea.”

For some Catholics, this idea is more than a joke. For them, the question is not who should be the next pope. It’s whether there is or should be a pope at all.

With the retirement of Benedict XVI, the seat of Peter is empty—sede vacante. But for Catholics past and present, the papacy is only one possible center of faith. A wider look at Catholic history—wider than media obsessions during the conclave—shows that the pope’s centrality has long been a highly contested topic.

Official papal theology about itself has long put the pope at the center.

As the 16th-century Protestant Reformation and the 18th-century French Revolution unfolded, popes theorized that the strongest church was the most centralized church. Protestant denominations proliferated, and ancient monarchies toppled. But if one pope stood above all nation-states, Roman Catholicism would thrive.

The 1870-71 council of Vatican I made papal infallibility a doctrine, but voting was a hotly contested matter:

A straw poll showed that approximately 10 percent of the bishops opposed papal infallibility.

Before the final vote, about 60 prelates left Rome rather than defy the Vatican.
Not all local priests and parishes were ready to give in. In Germany and Austria, a new body arose called the Old Catholic Church. It patterned itself on another Catholicism—eastern Orthodoxy—and established leadership by a council of bishops. Almost immediately it celebrated mass in the vernacular. Within several decades, its priests could marry.

Eminent Catholic theologian Hans Küng—who recently hoped in the pages of the New York Times for a “Vatican Spring”—writes that Old Catholicism “continues to be Catholic but is Rome-free.” Doctrinally ancient but also modern, Küng says, “this little bold and ecumenically open Old Catholic Church from the beginning anticipated reforms of the Second Vatican Council.”

Today, Old Catholicism has churches in ten countries from the Netherlands to Croatia. It ordains women and is in communion with Anglicanism.

Old Catholicism has also generated several hundred small independent Catholic churches in the U.S., including the historic Polish National Catholic Church and the African Orthodox Church. Some, such as the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, the Church of Antioch and Ascension Alliance, open the sacraments to all comers, including marriage and ordination. The list also includes formerly Roman parishes, such as St. Stanislaus Kostka in St. Louis and Spiritus Christi in Rochester, New York.

But even among those who stayed with Rome, there exist hugely differing views on the papacy. These Catholics take sides not on Vatican I but on Vatican II, the 1960s council that gave the church a modern makeover.

On the strong right of the U.S. church are opponents of Vatican II, who say the council’s documents are so out of step with tradition that its leadership must have been hijacked. John XXIII, the convener of Vatican II, was no true pope. Starting with him, the Roman popes have been impostors.

On the strong left are progressive Roman Catholics like Wills, whose pursuit of “the spirit of Vatican II” goes so far as to question the need for priests and popes at all.

The disagreements expose a wide and diverse Catholicism, in which overall affirmation of Vatican authority has declined. According to one recent survey fewer than three out of ten U.S. Roman Catholics says that the “teaching authority claimed by the Vatican” is “very important” to them.

U.S. Roman Catholicism is now fully one-third Latino, and this is another group that does not simply accede to papal centrality.

The vitality of devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the mother of Jesus manifested at Guadalupe, often far surpasses concerns for the pope. Especially among Mexican-Americans, who make up more than 60 percent of U.S. Hispanics, she is the living center of faith. Only half jokingly, some Latino Catholics say they are not Romans, but Guadalupeans. Among Guadalupeans, this beloved Mary with brown skin and a golden aura wins any popularity contest with the pope.

The election of the next pope is a fascinating spectacle on Vatican Hill. But if we look closely, the roil of Catholic opinion on the ground is the real show.

The author, Julie Byrne, is the Hartman Chair of Catholic Studies at Hofstra University. She is the author of O God of Players (Columbia University Press, 2003) and The Other Catholics (forthcoming from Columbia).

Between 1972 and 1974, the Mighty Macs of Immaculata College -- a small Catholic women's school outside Philadelphia -- made history by winning the first three women's national college basketball championships ever played. A true Cinderella team, this unlikely fifteenth-seeded squad triumphed against enormous odds and four powerhouse state teams to secure the championship title and capture the imaginations of fans and sportswriters across the country. But while they were making a significant contribution to legitimizing women's sports in America, the Mighty Macs were also challenging the traditional roles and obligations that circumscribed their Catholic schoolgirl lives. In this vivid account of Immaculata basketball, Julie Byrne goes beyond the fame to explore these young women's unusual lives, their rare opportunities and pleasures, their religious culture, and the broader ideas of womanhood they inspired and helped redefine.

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A generally good article that touches very lightly on the issues of Catholic Churches that are not Roman Catholic. Of course there is great divergence from what is considered “Catholic” and in line with the traditions of the entire Church from the first millennium. On one side are the Roman Church, Orthodoxy, the PNCC, and certain smaller “Old Catholic” Churches not recognized by Utrecht (but who maintain solid adherence to principals and doctrine). On the other Old Catholicism, certain portions of the Anglican Church, and some of the other smaller Churches that label themselves “Old Catholic” but are not recognized by Utrecht. They have veered in various degrees.

Good points on Rome’s self view of the Bishop of Rome (thankfully Francis uses this term) and its use of “infallibility” as a defense against the breakdown of other authority structures — to which at least a portion of the representatives at Vatican I did not agree. Also on the general view among (the majority I believe) of Roman Catholics who either think Rome has fallen to pieces (note the bubbling revolt among traditionalists against Francis), or pay little heed to anything coming out of Rome. Those who pay little heed like their local parish and ignore what doesn’t matter to them, whether it comes from their pastor, bishop or from Rome.

New York Folklore Society presents The Art of Community Workshop

24 April 2013 - By

The New York Folklore Society, Building Cultural Bridges, The American Folklore Society, and New York State Council on the Arts presents the Art of Community Workshop: Building and Arts and Culture Support Network for Newcomer Artists in New York State workshop on Friday, May 17th from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. at the Utica Public Library, one block east of the Ithaca Commons at 401 E. State/MLK Jr. Street, 303 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13501. You are invited to attend this workshop that will explore merging the arts with social services to better serve these newcomer communities and to enliven our community at large.

Upstate New York has become home to an ever-expanding community of refugees and immigrants from all over the world. Layering upon an already rich infrastructure of arts organizations, there is a great potential for an increasingly varied cultural landscape. Yet many of the artists from these communities struggle to maintain their expressive and cultural heritage traditions in the face of overwhelming and immediate needs as they adapt to their new environment.

Anybody concerned with the well-being of immigrant/refugee communities is welcome to attend, including but not limited to: refugee or immigrant artists, staff from cultural and community-based organizations and local art organizations, educators, funders, folklorists, staff from shops and galleries that market immigrant/refugee arts, refugee and immigrant service providers, and library staff.

The day-long workshop will present both national and local models of successful arts and social service collaborations which serve the focus communities. Also, newcomer artists will perform, demonstrate and talk about the importance of maintaining their cultural traditions in their new homeland. Drawing on personal experience and ideas generated by the presentations, participants will work together to explore possibilities for collaboration and to establish a local network for resource sharing. Spaces will be made available for participants to share information about their art forms or programs through printed materials. Interpretation services will be available.

You can register online at the New York Folklore Society.

Take the 2013 Polish American Survey

19 April 2013 - By

I encourage everyone, and especially PNCC members, to take the Piast Institute’s 2013 Polish American Survey. The survey thankfully includes a question on the religious affiliation of Polish-American and includes the Polish National Catholic Church as a choice among many others. Our inclusion as PNCC members in the Polish-American demographic is important.

This survey follows up on two earlier national studies in 2009 and 2010 that the Institute did of 900 and 1,400 Polish Americans respectively. The new study probes some of the key social, political and economic questions asked on the earlier studies and adds a few additional issues that have aroused public concern since. It also probes the attitudes of Polish Americans on matters of concern to the community and their ideas about its future.

The study is being conducted as a “rolling survey” over a span of three months. Polish Americans and Poles living in America are encouraged to participate. Dominik Stecula, a Ph.D. student at the University of British Columbia who coauthored the original study urged as wide a participation as possible to give the study a broad statistical sample for analysis. “I hope all Polish Americans who have a concern about our community take the time to respond to the survey,” he said. Mr. Stecula noted that “The original study demonstrated to us that Polonia is a unique community which shows distinctive opinions and attitudes on public and community issues. We need broad national participation to allow us to confirm our earlier findings and to deepen our analysis. These will be invaluable as we seek to create Polonia anew in the 21st century.” The survey, he pointed out, which can be completed in 25 to 60 minutes, can be accessed here (NOTE: the survey did not really take that long).

The 2010 study published as Polish Americans Today by the Piast Institute has gone through three printings. Its findings have been a key item of discussion at several national conferences. The chancery of the President of Poland ordered copies for its staff as have several Polish Ministries as well as the offices of the Marshalls of the Sejm and Senate. “The Piast Institute undertook the original study because we found a dearth of information about the Polish American Community as major Research Centers such as NORC at the University of Chicago and the national election exit polls have stopped asking about European American ethnic groups.” Says Dr. Radzilowski. “Poles and other European groups were lumped into a new default category called “White” which makes no historical, cultural or demographic sense. It is a new version of the melting pot.”

The new study will be published by E. Mellen Press, a major Social Science and Humanities publisher.

Thank you for your participation. You can access the survey HERE.

New York Folklore Society Annual Conference

24 February 2013 - By

The New York Folklore Society’s Annual Conference will be held at ArtsWestchester, 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY on Saturday, March 2nd. The day will begin at 11 a.m. with a preview of the Society’s newly designed website followed by the Society’s annual meeting. An optional lunch will be available (advanced reservations and a small fee required). Speakers and panel discussions begin at 1 p.m. on the theme Occupational Folklore: A conference to accompany the exhibit From Shore to Shore: Boat Builders and Boat Yards of Westchester and Long Island.

Admission is $15, $10 for NYFS Members, Students are Free. Attendees may register and RSVP online. More information on the event is available by calling (518) 346-7008.

Event Sponsors include ArtsWestchester, Long Island Traditions, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

One Story Summer Writer’s Workshop

24 February 2013 - By

This summer, One Story will again be offering a six-day fiction workshop for writers. With just two workshops of ten students each, this summer workshop is designed to help each student take the next step in their writing career in a supportive environment.

The week will include morning workshops, afternoon craft lectures, and evening panels with authors, agents, MFA faculty, and editors. The workshop will be held from July 14 – 19, 2013, at the Center for Fiction in Manhattan. Former Associate Editor Marie-Helene Bertino and Contributing Editor Will Allison will be returning as workshop leaders. Both bring their unique experience as editors and writers to the table.

Editor-in-Chief Hannah Tinti, as well as other established writers chosen for their ability to teach the craft of writing in engaging ways, will lead focused afternoon craft classes on topics like character, dialogue, and plot.

Every night, there will be a wine and cheese reception and panel discussion with industry professionals. Last year’s lecturers and panelists included Myla Goldberg, Victor LaValle, Simon Van Booy, editors from Granta, Bellevue Literary Review, Gigantic, literary agents, and MFA directors.

Applications for the One Story Workshop for Writers are being accepted now until April 30, 2013.

Prior attendees have said:

“The One Story Summer Writers Workshop was the first time I’ve felt that what I do is important. For a solitary writer, the experience of meeting, connecting with, and learning from others in the field is priceless. I’m inspired.” — Adam Sturtevant, Summer Workshop Participant 2011

“I feel much more confident about pursuing a writing career after the workshop. The thing I wasn’t necessarily expecting was the thing that I’ve come to appreciate the most: an overwhelming feeling of community and camaraderie, and I absolutely believe the relationships developed at the workshop will carry on long into our careers.” — Eric Fershtman, Summer Workshop Participant 2010

“I loved spending a week with the people at One Story. The spirit and energy was infectious and encouraging. Everyone is excited to talk about writing.” — Patty Forgie, Summer Workshop Participant 2012

Polish American Historical Association Call for Papers

24 February 2013 - By

Please see the official Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) call for papers for its January 2-4, 2014 Annual Meeting below and consider submitting a proposal.

The PAHA 2014 Annual Meeting will be held in Washington D.C. from January 2-4, 2014 as part of the American Historical Association’s Annual Conference. Abstracts for papers and panel proposals are now being accepted and should be submitted to the Chair of the Program Committee:

Grazyna Kozaczka, Ph.D.
Professor of English
Cazenovia College
22 Sullivan St.
Cazenovia, NY 13035

Electronic proposals in email and word format are strongly preferred. E-mail proposals directly to Dr. Kozaczka. The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2013.

Individuals and panel organizers should include the following information when submitting a proposal:

  • Paper/Session title(s) (of no more than 20 words)
  • Paper/Session abstract(s) (up to 300/500 words, respectively)
  • Biographical paragraph or c.v. summary (up to 250 words) for each participant
  • Correct mailing and e-mail address for each participant
  • Chair (required) and commentator (optional) for the session
  • Audiovisual needs, if any.

Please be advised that it is unlikely that PAHA will be able to use PowerPoint in its sessions, due to the high cost of rental, or that presenters will be permitted by the hosting conference hotel to bring their own. You may wish to consider distribution of paper handouts as an alternative.

The Polish American Historical Association holds its Annual Conference in conjunction with the American Historical Association (AHA). The full information about the AHA conference can be found at at their website. PAHA members who plan to attend PAHA conference only do not need to register for the AHA conference, but are required to register for the PAHA conference by November 1, 2013. Registration may be done on-line or by sending the $20.00 registration fee to:

PAHA Headquarters
c/o Magda Jacques
Central Connecticut State University
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06050

On the Bishop of Rome and a democratic Conciliar model that works

24 February 2013 - By

Our Holy Church does not believe that the Bishop of Rome holds any special office or power, and we categorically deny the various “dogmas” these men have proclaimed over the past several centuries (Infallibility as well as the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of the B.V.M.). The word “pope” is not part of our vocabulary. Of course in charity we wish Bishop Ratzinger, a brother in Christ, well in his retirement. We also take this opportunity to pray that the Roman Church’s leadership takes this chance to recant of its dogmatic errors and in doing so work toward a unity among Churches based on model of the Church as it existed in the first millennium, a Church that is unified and Conciliar

Our denomination began on the second Sunday of March, 1897 – nearly 126 years ago. We celebrate the gift of our Holy Church every year on the Solemnity of the Institution of the PNCC, which the Third General Synod of 1914 declared to fall on the second Sunday of March. On this Sunday the parishes of our Church remove the Lenten purple from their sanctuaries and replace them with flowers. The Gloria is again recited and the vestments are white or gold. On this special feast day we celebrate our religious freedom and our Catholic democracy.

It is important to consider some history in light of recent events. As the Bishop of Rome nears retirement, the Roman Church will meet to elect a successor. Such a resignation has not occurred for six centuries. That previous resignation was to bring an end to a period of men competing for the office who were ensconced in and supported by the powers of those days: France and Rome. What we do not see discussed in the media are the politics, bribery, and military force that played a deciding factor in this extended period of intrigue. The intrigue rose to such an extent that the office of the Bishop of Rome was deemed compromised.

A nascent democratic movement, referred to as the Conciliar Movement, arose in opposition to this corruption. The supporters of the Conciliar Movement insisted that ecumenical councils be held regularly and independently, and that they function as the highest Church body. The Council of Pisa in 1409 attempted to limit the authority of the Bishop of Rome’s office, and also elected a third contender for the office in an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the factions in France and Rome. The principle of the supremacy of the Council over the Bishop of Rome was affirmed by the Council of Constance in 1414-1418, which actually voided the authority of the sitting Bishop of Rome and elected a single replacement. The Conciliar Movement continued through the Council of Basel less than 20 years later. Unfortunately, the Bishop of Rome once again seized absolute power and tried to destroy the Conciliar movement in a competing and more successful Council in Florence.

Bishop Hodur knew this history. He immortalized Jan Hus (who was condemned at the Council of Constance and was killed despite a pledge of indemnity) in a stained glass window of our Cathedral in Scranton. It was Hus who argued against the assumed power of the Bishop of Rome and called for a return to “gospel poverty.” He spoke of the true Church as opposed to the hierarchical one, championing ecclesiastical democracy, all of which led to his being burned at the stake for heresy.

In celebrating the founding of our democratic Catholic church, we celebrate the continuation of the Conciliar Movement. The PNCC Constitution of 1922 stated:

“The task of the Synod is to: 1. Interpret authoritatively the bases of faith and morals; … In matters concerning religion and morals, the Synod decides unanimously; in national and social matters, as well as administrative ones [it decides] by a simple majority of votes.”

According to the report of the 1935 Synod, Bishop Grochowski was not anxious about this democratic authority, but rather extolled it as truly Christian:

“Bishop Grochowski announced the order of the Synod and informed the Synod that the Synod is the most important authority in the church. It was so from the very beginning of Christianity, but with the passage of time the clergy took away from the faithful those rights which the National Church returns to those belonging to it.” (Minutes, p. 190)

With an eye to the Conciliar Movement, Bishop Hodur wrote in the 1931 catechism:

“These priests, especially of the higher rank, cultivate under the guise of the religion of Jesus Christ, Moses, Buddha, and Mohammed worldly politics, personal business, and very often stand in complete contradiction to divine principles of pure religion, democratic issues, general enlightenment, the welfare of the masses, freedom of conscience, brotherhood, and social justice.”

Reflecting on these words we see the prophecy contained therein. In recent days, Roman Catholic Bishop, Keith Cardinal O’Brien of Scotland, spoke out publicly to urge an end to required celibacy for clergy (the PNCC has allowed its clergy to marry since 1921). Within a day making such a declaration he was publicly accused by other clergy of inappropriate behavior. Odd how the struggle to maintain the status quo and to stifle voices for reform rears its head. The politics of such a process cannot be hidden away as it once was.

Our Church’s remedy to inordinate power and corruption is a democratic model of Church consistent with the ideals of the Conciliar Movement and more importantly earliest Christianity. It is time that Roman Catholics consider whether the voice of the Bishop of Rome is preeminent or whether they should find a home which is modeled on Church of the first millennium, one that is at once fully Catholic and free, democratic, and Conciliar.

My thanks to Fr. Randolph Calvo of Holy Name of Jesus in South Deerfield, Massachusetts for his words, which I have significantly borrowed, and which inspired this writing



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