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Polish American Priests Association - Closing Mass
Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus - Cleveland, OH
Very Rev. Canon Maciej Mankowski, D.Min.
April 12, 2018

Danny was a very devout follower of Jesus who loved to brag about the superiority of the Catholic Religion. No matter what his non-Catholic friends would say about their religious beliefs, Danny would always argue that Catholics are the best followers of Jesus. According to Danny; Catholics are the most blessed because they have the largest number of sacraments. In his eyes Catholics are also more dedicated to their faith, they have the best funeral liturgy, the most beautiful churches, the most beautiful paintings, statues and they have the smartest priests and nuns in the world.


Finally, his friends have had enough of Danny's bragging, so they decided to teach him a lesson. The next day while having coffee with their proud Catholic friend, they slipped a few sleeping pills into Danny's cup. Once he fell asleep, Danny's friends brought him to the nearby cemetery where they put his body into an open casket placed by a freshly dug grave. While Danny was slowly waking up, his friends hid behind the tombstones to see his reaction. Danny opened his eyes, and he looked around and then he jumped out of the casket and shouted: "Hallelujah, the day of the Resurrection is here and the Catholics are the first ones out."


Whether or not we will be the first ones out of our graves on the Day of the Resurrection is still to be seen, but the undeniable reality of our Catholic Faith is that one day we shall conquer death and rise to a new life in Christ. Because Jesus rose from the dead, you and I have the promise of eternal life, and that is something to look forward to into the future.


Think about Jesus' disciples – when Jesus hung on the cross and died a horrific death; they were all crushed. Their hopes and dreams were shattered. Mournful and broken-hearted they gathered in the upper room trying to make some sense out of this tragedy. They feared for their own lives, and the future looked very bleak.


In the midst of their pain and suffering came The Resurrected Christ and He brought them Hope and Joy beyond their wildest dreams. At first, they had a difficult time understanding what being raised from the dead truly meant. However, the more Jesus appeared to them and Mary Magdalen and the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus and the doubting Thomas and to many others, the more they realized that his resurrection was real. It was not just a figment of their imagination.


Before Jesus ascended into heaven He commissioned his disciples and their followers to spread the Good News of the Gospel to all corners of the world at all cost - no matter the trials and tribulations, no matter the sacrifices of their discipleship. His disciples did exactly what the Resurrected Christ told them to do. They shed their blood, they were beaten and tortured, they were imprisoned and persecuted, but they never stopped spreading the Good News of the Gospel. The disciples became the most powerful witnesses to Jesus Christ, to his teachings and his victory over sin and death.


When I think about the hardships that they experienced in their lives, I often think about the hardships that many of our Polish ancestors experienced as well when they came to America – the land of the free and the home of the brave. Some of them came to seek new opportunities in life. Others came to these shores because they were running away from wars, persecutions, foreign invaders, Russian communists and the Nazi fascists. Many of them came to the United States after World War II because they refused to live in Soviet-ruled Poland.


When they came to these United States of America, most of them came with nothing. At first, they were treated with suspicion and sometimes even with inferiority. However, they never gave up. They shed their blood, sweat, and tears while trying to make a living in their new home away from home. First, they built their Polish Churches and then they built their Polish Schools. They founded many important Polish Organizations to make sure that their Polish identity would not diminish over the years.


Slowly but surely, they blended into the American society, and they found their rightful place here in the United States. However, they never forgot about that beautiful phrase that is so deeply rooted in the heart of every Pole: Bóg, Honor i Ojczyzna. Those are the most fundamental principles for every Pole and Polish-American.


God, Honor, and Homeland. Our Polish ancestors knew that without God we can do nothing in this life. Without Honor, we lack integrity and the pursuit of higher moral values. Our Yes, must mean Yes and our No must mean No. We must stand up for what we believe in this life. We cannot be wishy-washy. May God have mercy on us if we ever forget about Poland – that beautiful country of devout Catholics and true patriots who shed their blood Za Wasza i Nasza Wolność - for Ours and Yours Freedom.


Polska krew jest rozlana na całym świecie. Groby naszych żołnierzy są na wielu kontynentach. Nasza historia to historia zwycięstw i porażek, to jest historia potęgi i chwały a także historia wzlotów i upadków. To jest historia wierności i zdrady. To jest historia Państwa Polskiego które 100 lat temu narodziło się ponownie i powstało z prochów opresji rozbiorów tak jak Feniks rodzi się ze swoich prochów.


Polish blood is spilled all over the world. The graves of our soldiers are located on multiple continents. Our history is a history of victories and defeats. It is a history of great power and glory. It is a history of ups and downs. It is a history of faithfulness and betrayal. It is a history of the Polish State - The Republic of Poland - Rzeczpospolita Polska that 100 years ago was re-born and rose from the ashes of oppression caused by the partitions just like a Phoenix is re-born and raises up from its own ashes.


For 123 years Poland was erased from the Map of Europe due to partitions. We were forbidden to speak the Polish language and to cultivate our customs and traditions. During those long years of oppression families were torn apart, and Poles were forced to fight for Austria, Russia, and Prussia. Poland lived only in the hearts of her faithful sons and daughters who would die first rather than abandon the dream of an independent Poland. Many of them made serious personal sacrifices.

Some of them were killed, and others were sent away to Siberia, never to be heard from again. It was one of the worst times in the history of the Polish nation. Just like the disciples in the upper room after Jesus' death, Poles were heartbroken, and their future looked very bleak.


However, just like the disciples - the Polish people have seen a glimpse of Hope in 1918 at the end of WWI. Once they regained their independence, they were unstoppable. Nobody could stop them from sharing their Catholic faith and their love for their homeland. Unfortunately, this was a short-lived dream.


Poles had no say when the godless communist government was forced upon them from 1945 until 1989.[1] Their uprisings against a totalitarian system were crushed by the Soviet tyranny and communist traitors and collaborators. Polish fight for freedom was often met with violent repercussions and abuse of fundamental human rights. When Martial Law was imposed in Poland by the puppets of Moscow on December 13, 1981, the same horrible year when St. John Paul II was almost assassinated, many Poles were imprisoned, killed and tortured. Priests became open targets for the Polish equivalent of KGB – the Bezpieka. Some priests like the blessed Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko were kidnapped, beaten to a pulp and killed. But despite all this undeserved oppression and torture Poles never gave up their Hope for a truly free and independent Polish State and the abolishment of the totalitarian system in Poland.


We are sons and daughters of true patriots who loved their country more than their own lives. Ours is a story of survival despite all the odds. We refused to become a footnote in the history books and to be ruled by foreign governments.


Polonia Semper Fidelis – Polska jest zawsze wierna - Poland is always faithful. We are faithful to our homeland, and we are faithful to our Catholic religion. We come from a tough stock. We come from a land of kings and queens, from a land of many Saints and martyrs and from a land that never gave up Hope. We are a living proof that with God all things are possible. As long as we remain faithful to God in this life – God will remain faithful to us as well. May God bless Poland. May God continue to bless the United States and all Polish Americans who share our heritage and who love not one but two great countries that we proudly call our home sweet home.[2]


[1] The Communist system has been imposed in Poland after the two major conferences in Yalta and Poczdam. At both conferences representatives from the United States, Great Britain and Russia divided among themselves political and geographic areas of influence drawing a clear line in Europe between the West and the East.

[2] Quoting the United States National Anthem first sung in Philadelphia in the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ 1776 when on the 4th of July fifty-two American signed the Declaration of Independence founding an independent and new republic.

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