Helena Zmurkiewicz, past officer of the Polish American Congress, Michigan Division, died in her home on February 23, 2019 at the age of 93.  It is a great loss for PAC-MI and Polonia in Michigan.


Helena Zmurkiewicz (nee Rodzen) was born on June 17, 1926 in Kalusz, a city in eastern Poland (now Ukraine). She was the youngest of four children. Helena always said that she had a very happy childhood and that her home was filled with joy and laughter.

In 1940, when Helena was just 13 years old, she, her mother, and her two sisters, were arrested, separated from her father and brother, and taken prisoner by the Russian army to Kazakhstan where they were forced to work on collective farms in extremely harsh conditions. Starvation and disease were rampant. Helena contracted and survived eight bouts of malaria. Helena’s mother and, she later learned, her father died of typhoid.

In 1942, while still too young to join the army, she was attached to the Polish II Corps, then forming in the Soviet Union. She too contracted typhoid but survived. Helena remembered that, when she recovered, she had nothing to wear and she was shown a large pile of clothing from which she was allowed to select something for herself. She was struck by the fact, and she never forgot, that this large pile of clothing “byl dar (was donated by) Amerykanskiej Polonii.”

Helena traveled with the Polish II Corps to the Middle East, where she and many other children were fed, clothed, housed, and educated, as she said, “Dzieki polskiemu zolnierzowi, ktory upodatkowal sie sam by pomoc polskim sierotom i pol sierotom w otrzymaniu wyksztalcenia.”

While attached to the Polish II Corps, and later as a Public Relations Officer in the Polish II Corps, Helena learned English, completed Polish Teachers Training College in Nazareth, and taught English in the Polish II Corps Mechanical School. She then worked in the Regimental Paymaster’s Office of the War Department in England and was honorably discharged from the army in 1949. She married in 1948, immigrated to the United States in 1951 (becoming a U. S. citizen in 1960), settled in Hamtramck and Detroit, Michigan, and started a family. She had three children, Aleksander (deceased 1984), Andrzej, and Janina.

Helena attended Wayne State University and taught Polish in various Polish schools in the Detroit area. She was the director of the H. Sienkiewicz Polish School for over 20 years. She was an Adjunct Instructor of Polish at the University of Detroit-Mercy and an instructor of Polish at Macomb County Community College – Continuing Education. She also taught Polish for adults at St. Ladislaus and tutored privately. Helena worked at the U. S. Army Tank Automotive Command in Warren, Michigan, and then at Hygrade Food Products where she worked for 24 years, retiring in 1993 as executive secretary to the comptroller of the corporation.

Helena was active in many community organizations including the Polish American Congress – Michigan Division, the Polish II Corps Foundation, the Polish Teachers Association, the Polish American Congress Seniors Club, Friends of Polish Art, and “Zwiazek Harcerstwa Polskiego” – Polish scouting association.

Helena chaired: Polish language competitions in Orchard Lake, Michigan, in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005; the 40th and 50th anniversary celebrations of H. Sienkiewicz Polish School in 1996 and 2006; the Polish Teachers National Conference in 1983 and 1993; the Polish II Corps Schools Reunion in 1987; and others. She authored and aired many radio programs on subjects important to Poles and Polish Americans.

Helena also received numerous honors and awards including: British Defense Medal; War Medal (1939-1945); Gold Cross of Merit from the Polish government in London in 1987; Silver Cross from the Alliance of Poles of America in 1988; Gold Badge from the Polish Alma Mater in London in 1988; Order of Merit – Commission on Education in Poland in 1991; Chivalry Cross, Order of Merit from the Polish government in London in 1994; and others.

In her spare time, Helena enjoyed traveling, gardening, knitting, reading, and playing cards with friends and family.

Helena was a parishioner of St. Veronica Catholic Church in Eastpointe for over 50 years. Helena died in her home on February 23, 2019, with her son and daughter by her side.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Polish American Congress – Michigan Division at 11333 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212.






With the start of a fresh new year, 2019, I would like to share some New Year’s wishes expressed by officials of the Polish government. Stanislaw Karczewski, who who is the Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, in a New Year’s staement recently invited all those who feel any connection with their forefathers’ homeland, Poland, to feel welcome to visit Poland, keep abreast of what is happening there, and he wished all Poles, and those  with Polish roots, to nurture their cultural identity, so that in doing so we form a bonded community, which we can build on going into the future.

Just as his words appeared in the last edition of the Polish Weekly, 1-9-19, Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda, in reflecting on the historically significant year past, 2018, and standing on the threshhold of the New Year of 2019, noted that with the 100th anniversary of Poland’s regaining independence, “It was a great celebration time of Polish freedom and national pride”… The feast of all of us”. He pointed out that as in 1918 “we gathered under the white and red flag” and thus he expressed hope that “there will always be a place for each of us under our flag”. He invited everyone that throughout the New Year there will continue to be significant historical occasions to commemorate, ” to once again take stock of our history of tenacious striving for freedom, independence, and peace”.

I would also like to share, in part and translation, New Year’s wishes expressed to the Polish nation, on January 1, 1919, by Marshal Jozef Pilsudski. He stated that these wishes were the first one’s expressed to a free Poland in over 123 years. He commented on the dramatic changes the Great War and its aftermath created, especially in Europe, bringing down powerful empires and armies, particularly those who held Poland hostage. He pleaded that despite threatening chaos surrounding Poland, that the nation join together to protect its borders and to work to ensure and to build a new and truly free and strong Polish republic. Though he realized that the task was a daunting one, it was absolutely necessary. He appealed to all to work together to rebuild the country and ensure its future.

What took place in Poland in the 20 years following her regaining of independence was that, despite 123 years of bondage and destruction during the war, the country produced a significantly patriotic generation. This was the generation, imbued with a strong sense of history, age old traditions and values, and a love of their country and nation, was prepared, and eventually made ready, to deal with the extreme and disruptive challenges of WWII, invasions and occupations by both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and then the near five decades of destructive communism rule, which many of these young patriotic Poles survived and eventually overcame, to ensure that Poland was once again free and independent.

I share these New Year’s wishes as in them I see a call, a summons even to us, those of Polish heritage, living in America. Most of us certainly enjoy a comfortable life, free to do as we please, free to steer our way as we see fit. We have many options available to us: what we want to address as important, what we want to spend our time on, what we think can make a difference in our lives, the lives of our families, and even our nationality group. Most of us are reasonably content and secure looking ahead to the future. I invite you however to consider and envision how much of what we enjoy and cherish will continue through its own accord into our future, the future of our children and grand children, the communities we live in? Who will we be or become in generations to come? What will continue of what we value without our attention and nurturing?

I speak of course from the perspective of our Polish heritage, the often fought for resplendent history we share that preceded us, the striving to protect, nurture, and pass on what many of us feel, and those before us felt, is a rich heritage, values and ideals that helped our forefathers, and even those more recent compatriots, to rise up and conquer unbelievable challenges. Are we doing anything to pass this on to our children, the next generation, informing others of what is good and valuable in our heritage? It seems to be a daunting task- just as Marshal Pilsudski described  the work that awaited the new Polish nation- but are we not responsible to do our share today?

To ensure success of any task takes a vision, commitment and  working together. The many Polish American organizations that were formed and worked through the years before us are an example of such efforts. Polish American Congress exists to bring these organizations and all individuals together for the purpose primarily of protecting Poland and Polonia’s existence and good name, promoting our heritage, serving and nurturing our communities, and strengthening our bond as a nationality group, even as we live in this country. Is not the legacy of the generations that came before us worth such protection, time investment, and a worthy gift to our children, grandchildren, and generations after us?

Just as President Duda addresses the importance of celebrating our brave history, Poland’s Senate Chief appeals to all to build on our shared identity, and Pilsudski summoned us to work and build together, we too can step up this year, with a renewed commitment to join in doing something to promote our heritage and strengthen our identity, even in America. As we live in today’s diversified world, we need ever more to feel that identity and pride in who we are, where we come from, not detracting from the country we live in or of which we are citizens. It is enriching and it is encumbant upon us not to break, but rather strengthen, the beautiful chain that links us to Poland and our Polishness.

This year Polish American Congress- Michigan celebrates 75 years as an organization. In March we will have elections. It is never too late to join as a member, to become more active, to commit  time in some way to ensure a better and lasting future for our community of Polonia. Following today’s appeal we hope to inform you more as to what we are doing, what plans we have, and how you can become involved. Our division office is in Hamtramck, 11333 Jos. Campau. You can reach us at 313-365-9400; on our website pacmi.org; or like us on Facebook.

Happy New Year!

Ann Bankowski, President

Polish American Congress, Michigan Division

Polish American Congress Michigan Division leads the State of Michigan in celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Poland’s regained independence

The Polish American Congress Michigan Division, as a leading Polonian organization in the State was a host to numerous initiatives, projects and celebrations related to the 100th anniversary of Poland’s regained independence.

One of the biggest accomplishments of our division of PAC was creating billboards that were placed at two busy crossroads of Metro Detroit. The billboards educated commuters about Poland’s 100th anniversary of regained independence. The idea was originated by the late Dr. Thaddeus Radzilowski (President of the “Piast Institute”). After his untimely passing, PAC-Michigan decided to make this reality. The billboard created by PAC-MI read: “100 years of Poland’s Regained Independence. 1918-2018. Thank You America! We honor Armistice Day November 11 PAC of Michigan”. The wording was placed on a white and red background, and featured the Polish and American flags. One of the billboards (a digital one) was placed on Hall Road, just east of Van Dyke; the other one on E.14 Mile Rd., near Dequindre Rd. Commuters were able to see the billboards throughout November and part of December.

Just as the billboards were created to educate the public about Poland’s history, another project served as a similar tool. Our division published a special pamphlet “Poland’s Road to Independence” which featured facts leading up to the historical date of November 11, 1918, and featured key historical figures who had the biggest impact on Poland’s regaining independence. The booklet was distributed at various events, often during non-Polonian social gatherings.

The Polish American Congress – Michigan Division has also produced colorful pins, bumper stickers and decals- memorabilia for our members and the general public, to display or wear proudly, as a patriotic gesture and another way of educating the public.

The centennial was also the theme of this year’s Polish Day Parade in Hamtramck on Labor Day, which PAC-MI sponsors annually, and was highlighted with a beautiful themed float for many to view.

The culmination of our year-long celebrations came on November 11, when our Division hosted an elegant banquet at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, MI. Representatives of almost all Polish-American organizations were present, as well as dignitaries from U.S. and Canada. Mr. Richard Walawender, recently appointed Honorary Consul of Poland in Detroit, gave the banquet’s keynote address. A State Senator, a Michigan Congressman, and the Michigan Governor’s Office, presented tributes and Proclamations. The event’s program also included presentations by the Polish Scouting Organization of Michigan, “Rodacy” Polish Folk Ensemble and Adam Mickiewicz Polish Language School (whose students depicted roles of famous Polish historical figures). Among other points of the program, the award-winning choir “Filarets” performed a variety of patriotic songs, particularly the Legionnaire ones of that era, inviting guests to join in the singing. Including all program participants and guests, we had well over 300 persons in attendance.

Interesting exhibits accompanied the banquet festivities. Dariusz Klepko (of Polish American Numismatic Society of Michigan) along with his daughter, Julia, prepared a display “The Greatest Poles and other Leaders who helped free Poland 100 years ago” which featured numismatic related items. “12 Heroes of Polish Independence” was a special display (created with the help of the Polish-Slavic Credit Union in NY) presenting the most instrumental figures in the fight for Poland’s independence. Zdzislaw Foryś shared many items from his private collection of Jozef Pilsudski memorabilia, while Jerzy Barycki, President of Polish Canadian Congress – Windsor-Chatham Chapter, shared a power point presentation “Polish Army Camp in Canada during World War I”.

Kudos go to the banquet committee, under the chairmanship of Ann Bankowski, for working tirelessly to make this event a great success!

Condolences to the Family of Former President George H.W. Bush


As President of the Polish American Congress, and on behalf of the PAC Executive Committee, our PAC members, Polish Americans throughout our great country, as well as our many friends, I extend my deepest sympathies to the President George H.W. Bush Family upon his passing.

The death of the 41st President of the United States brings to mind the many times President Bush supported Poland’s quest for freedom.

As we say farewell to a decorated World War II veteran, as well as a consistent fighter for freedom during the Cold War, I wish to thank President Bush for his support of the Solidarity Movement that resulted in Poland becoming free in 1989.

Polish Americans stand in unity with Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, who recently noted after President Bush’s passing the following words spoken during the Solidarity era. These words ring true today as they did in 1989:

“Today, to those who think that hopes can forever be suppressed, I say: Let them look at Poland. To those who think that freedom can be forever denied, I say: Let them look at Poland. And to those who think that dreams can be forever repressed, I say: Look at Poland! For here in Poland, the dream is alive.”

During his long career in public service, Mr. Bush traveled to Chicago and visited the Polish National Alliance headquarters. He was warmly received. As Vice President, Mr. Bush also attended the funeral wake for Aloysius Mazewski, Polish American Congress and Polish National Alliance President. For his genuineness and caring support, we are very grateful.


Frank J. Spula

President, Polish American Congress


Sponsored by the Polish American Congress / Michigan Division



Polish American Congress Michigan Division Polish Mass at St. Ladislaus Church in Hamtramck (2730 Caniff) for the intention of PAC and Polonia. 9:00 am. Coffee Reception after the Mass.




Sunday, November 11, 2018 – Polish American Congress Michigan Division is hosting a banquet celebrating 100th anniversary of Poland’s Independence at the American Polish Cultural Center. More details to come.


Sunday, November 25 – Detroit Pistons celebrate Polish Heritage Night as they take on the Phoenix Suns at Little Caesars Arena.  Come early for traditional pre-game Polish dance performance.  Purchase tickets at Pistons.com/Polish


Sunday, November 25 – TheAmerican Polish Cultural Society invites you to a play by Kazimierz Braun “Tamara L.” performed by the great artists of Polish-Canadian Society of Poetry, Music and Theatre in Toronto. (performance in Polish language).




Saturday, December 1 – Polish American Congress Michigan Division Quarterly General Membership Meeting at 10:0 am.  Holiday Reception after the meeting.  PAC MI, 11333 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212


December 7 – 21 – Exhibit “The Spirit of Polish Independence” at Duderstadt Center Gallery, 2281 Bonisteel Boulevard, University of Michigan North Campus, Ann Arbor.  The exhibition illustrates the fight of the Polish nation for freedom and independence from the end of XVIII century through World War II.   It is an unique opportunity to share Polish and U.S. history with broad audiences and is appropriate for youth and adults.  The exhibit is in English and Polish.  Admission is free and open to the public 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.


Saturday, December 8 – The Chancellor Christmas Concert at the Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake (3535 Commerce Rd., Orchard Lake, MI 48324).  6:00 pm.  Performers include Kontra Banda & Friends from Chicago, St. Mary’s Preparatory Band, the SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary Choir, and the Fr. Józef Dąbrowski Polish Language School Children’s Choir.  For more information, please call at (248) 683 0433.


Saturday, December 15 – Friends of Polish Art is hosting its annual “Wigilia Celebration”.  American Polish Cultural Center (2975 E. Maple Rd., Troy, MI).  Doors open at 5:30 (6:00 Cash Bar, 6:45 Program, 7:15 Multicourse Meatless Dinner).  Sing-A-Long, Raffle, At an Old Polish Christmas Table” narrated by Marcia Lewandowski.  Koledy by Curtis Posuniak.  Tickets/Information by calling 313-891-0696.




Saturday, January 5, 2019 – Thirteenth Annual Opłatek: St. Colette Catholic Church, 17600 Newburgh Rd., Livonia, 48152: Noon – 3:30 p.m.; Performance & kolędy with Filarets Choir; Honoring Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan on 40th Anniversary [Details T/B/A at www.detroitpolonia.org]


Saturday, October 5, 2019 – Club Filarets annual “Dinner-Dance”.  More information to come.


For more information or to list an event:

– Call the PAC/MI office at 313-365-9400

– Email information to DetPoloniaCalendar@Comcast.net

– Mail the information to: PAC/MI Calendar, 11333 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212

Please include a phone number if we need more information.

PAC Michigan to host a Celebration of 100th Anniversary of Poland’s Regained Independence


“Dywizjon 303” to be screened in Detroit

Kontrast Entartainment invites you to the screening of a movie “Dywizjon 303. Prawdziwa Historia” (“Squadron 303”).

The film, directed by Denis Delić, will be screened on Sunday, October 7, at AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights (44681 Mound Rd) at 4:00 pm.  Tickets are available for purchase at Srodek’s Campau Quality (Hamtramck), American Polish Cultural Center (Troy) and on-line at brownpapertickets.com.

Based on true story, the film tells the story of the highly regarded fighter squadron, in which served mainly soldiers from Poland, in the history of aerial combat and their heroic defense of England during World War II, Battle of Britain against Nazi attacks.  The 303 Squadron shot three times more Luftwaffe planes than any other allied squadrons.

The film features most popular Polish actors, including Maciej Zakościelny, Piotr Adamczyk and Antoni Krolikowski.

The screenplay for the movie was inspired by a book written by Polish famous writer, journalist and adventurer, Arkady Fiedler.  He wrote 32 books that have been translated into 23 languages and sold over 10 million copies in total.  He wrote books about his travels (including Mexico, Indochina, Brazil, Madagascar, West Africa, Canada and United States), documenting cultures, customs and natural wonders.

“Dywizjon 303” (“Squadron 303”) was his most famous book.  It was written in 1942 and sold over 1.5 million copies.

For more information about upcoming screening of “Dywizjon 303” movie, please call: 248-707-0577 lub 248-396-1370.



Sponsored by the Polish American Congress / Michigan Division



Polish American Congress Michigan Division Polish Mass at St. Ladislaus Church in Hamtramck (2730 Caniff) for the intention of PAC and Polonia. 9:00 am. Coffee Reception after the Mass.


Monday, September 10, 2018 – 7:00 pm – Polish American Congress Michigan Division Quarterly General Membership Meeting at PAC-MI Headquarters (11333 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212).


Saturday-Sunday, September 15-16, 2018 – 100 Years of Poland’s Independence Celebration at Orchard Lake Schools.  Events include Summit Discussion, Mass, Concert, Exhibition and more.  Details at www.polishmission.com


Sunday, September 16, 2018 – Dozynki Polish Dinner organized by PNA District X Women’s Division.  Doors open at 1:00 pm.  Dinner at 2:00.  American Legion Carl E. Stitt Post 232 (23850 Military Rd., Dearborn Hts., MI).  Polish Buffet Dinner.  Open Bar. Raffles. Import Gift Stations. Entertainment.  More information at 734-676-1934 or 734-591-4249.



Sunday, October 7, 2018 – Screening of a movie “Dywizjon 303” at AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights (44681 Mound Rd). 4:00 pm. Tickets available at Srodek’s Campau Quality in Hamtramck or American Polish Cultural Center (Troy). More information by calling: 248-707-0577 lub 248-396-1370.


Sunday, October 14, 2018 – Pulaski Day in Wyandotte. Mass at Our Lady of the Scapular at 12 Noon, following by the procession to Pulaski Park, Ceremony by the Pulaski Monument, and Lunch at the PAVA Post 95 (2935 11th Street). Donations accepted.


Sunday, October 21, 2018 – 25th Anniversary of “Chopiniana” at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy (2975 E. Maple Rd, Troy, MI 48083).  Performing: Macomb Symphony Orchestra (Prof. Thomas Cook, Director) and Kazimierz Brzozowski Pianist.  More information by calling 248-689-3636.


Saturday, October 27, 2018 –  Eleventh Annual All Saints’-All Souls’ Pilgrimage, Prayer Service & Wypominki:  11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.:  St. Hedwig Cemetery, 23755 Military Rd., Dearborn Hts. 48127:  Celebrating 100th Anniversary of the End of World War I and 100th Anniversary of Poland’s Independence; Prayer Service at 11 a.m. with Society President Rev. Gary Michalik and Society Director Rev. Canon Walter J. Ptak; Feature Presentation by Ms. Henrietta Nowakowski, Historian:  “My Father Was A Hallerczyk,” with Commentary by Society Member Mary Bartus-Sidick; Optional Banquet at Deluca’s, 27424 Warren Ave., Westland 48185 [See flyer at www.detroitpolonia.org or call 1-866-POLONIA for details]


Sunday, October 28, 2018 – Central Citizens Committee Pulaski Day Banquet. More information to come.


Sunday, October 28, 2018 – Polish Bilingual Day at the American-Polish Cultural Center in Troy (2975 E. Maple Road). 2:00 to 6:00 pm.  Events include a performance by the Polish Theatre Institute in the USA, from New York, fun acting workshops by Dream Tale Puppets founder, director, designer, and leading performer, Jacek Zuzanski, interactive and fun educational programs by Polish American Numismatic Society, a Polish game room, where kids of all ages can learn and play Polish-designed board and video games, a lecture on innovation and history in Polish video game design & philosophy by Professor Alina Klin of Wayne State University, a lecture on the 100th Anniversary of Polish Independence and more. Details at www.polishmission.com



Sunday, November 11, 2018 – Polish American Congress Michigan Division is hosting a banquet celebrating 100th anniversary of Poland’s Independence at the American Polish Cultural Center.  More details to come.


Saturday, January 5, 2019 – Thirteenth Annual Opłatek:  St. Colette Catholic Church, 17600 Newburgh Rd., Livonia, 48152:  Noon – 3:30 p.m.; Performance & kolędy with Filarets Choir; Honoring Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan on 40th Anniversary [Details T/B/A at www.detroitpolonia.org]


For more information or to list an event:

– Call the PAC/MI office at 313-365-9400

– Email information to DetPoloniaCalendar@Comcast.net

– Mail the information to: PAC/MI Calendar, 11333 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212

Please include a phone number if we need more information.

Polish Day Parade 2018

The annual Polish Day Parade organized by the Polish American Congress Michigan Division Polish Day Parade Committee took place on Labor Day, September 3, in downtown Hamtramck.

For more pictures visit our Facebook page:




The Polish American Congress Michigan Division invites all its members and delegates to a Quarterly Membership Meeting.  It will take place on Monday, September 10, at 7:00 pm, at the PAC-MI Headquarters in Hamtramck, MI (11333 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212).