This is an exciting week for Catholics all over America as Pope Francis visits us for the first time. The Pope’s steps to heal wounds and spread mercy are quickly making him beloved to a broad audience. The abundance of coverage makes me think back to the bus trip I took with members of Polonia Dance Ensemble and others from Krakusy Hall to Toronto in the early 1980s to see JPII. My sister and friends were in high school and college but shared our elders’ excitement to see our Pope close up. I included these pictures above as samples of what it was like. An arena where we sang Polish hymns during mass had us close enough to see the Pope mobile. A newly bought 35mm lens helped bring up close the important parts of mass. But the next day, we experienced mass like everyone else, as part of a HUGE crowd with speakers and sitting on cardboard because portable stadium chairs weren’t a thing then. I have been reading on Facebook about others’ reflections on how this experience with John Paul moved them and stays with them to this day. I encourage you to share YOUR story with us here. I am one of those new Pope Francis fans and will be traveling to Philadelphia this weekend too. I will say a prayer that Pope St. JPII protects Pope Francis and encourages all of the Polonia of Youngstown.

Last chance to join in Polish Language & Culture Classes
Everyone from children to seniors are raving about this week’s first Polish class with our new teacher Pani Anna! Interactive, enthusiastic and fun were some of the adjectives passed to me via email and text. If you have always wanted to learn to speak Polish or maybe just learn a little more about your heritage and culture, our classes suit both of those needs! Please consider joining us next week – it is the last chance to start this year. Zapraszamy! Click here to register or for more information, call 330-333-9724.

Accordion for Kids (and Adults, too)
We are excited to be launching a new program intended to introduce young people (and the young at heart) to a wonderful musical instrument, the accordion. Once the butt of jokes, the instrument is making a comeback and we want YOU to have a chance to be part of it. "The accordion became kind of unhip in the 1980s and 1990s," says Mike Shaffer, internationally renowned accordionist and member of the family Shaffer Brothers Band. But that has changed. “Popular rock and folk bands like Tom Waits and Mumford & Sons have gotten it renewed attention.  In big cities, it is considered quirky and mod... maybe even cool again." Shaffer has agreed to teach our program that gives you or your child the opportunity to experience this great "party in a box" without obligation.  For six weeks, we will lend each youngster a petite, 12-Bass Accordion, DVD of the ABC Accordion Video Course for Beginners© by Dale E. Wise, M.M.E., music stand, and music course booklet. A refundable security deposit on the loaned items will be required. In addition, Shaffer will work with students during this trial period. With individual, group, and programmed instruction, there is no doubt your child will enjoy a positive musical experience. There is no obligation, just a great opportunity. Join us in this important endeavor to enlighten another generation about the instrument so tied to our culture.  Zapraszamy! To register for one of these limited spots, call 330-333-9724.

Polish Day one more time!
The leaves may have begun to turn but I bet you have a least one more festival attendance left in you. I encourage you to use that energy to head to the  25th Annual Lawrence County Polish Day at nostalgic Cascade Park featuring Lenny Gomulka & the Chicago Push and Tony Blazonczyk and New Phaze. I am so sad to be out of town ‘cause I have wanted to see this second band live for years---a doppelganger of his father, Tony carries a lot of his dad’s sound too. Sample it here. These are two seriously great national polka bands that know how to rock a festival. In addition to feeling like you have stepped back into the Idora Park ballroom, the event offers church-made Polish food, tasty Polish beer beverages and even some vendors. Even if you don’t dance, it is worth coming out and watching those that do. I have always been impressed with the skilled dancers that come out to enjoy this massive dance floor and outstanding bands. This event funds the organization’s scholarship fund—to date, the committee has awarded more than $60,000 in scholarships.

Become an active in your Polish community
Polish Day marks the official kickoff for our new year of activities and the perfect time for new members to get around the table! Our organization was created to revive and preserve the colorful Polish culture that had been a vital part of the Mahoning Valley community. Since then the common bond for this enthusiastic group of “cultural evangelists" has been sharing the spirit of their heritage by inspiring and educating future generations. Do you share this spirit? We welcome any interest but are particularly in search of people interested in education programs, genealogy and extending the Happy Hour spirit. Your participation will not only entitle you to a range of benefits (like this snazzy pin and members-only activities), but, more importantly, gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you are personally contributing to the perpetuation your ancestors’ proud Polish spirit now and into the future. If interested, call 330-333-9724.
Polish Arts Club of Youngstown, our culturally focused sister group, is starting their new programming year. Why not become a part of it!  Applications available here

News from Poland by Ted Mirercki

Migration risks dividing east and west Europe
As Europe’s national leaders struggle with how to cope with a massive rush of Syrian refugees, the attitudes of the Eastern European nations are beginning to be heard. There is no doubt that this massive influx has put an inordinate burden on the European countries where refugees first arrive: Greece, Italy and Hungary. Europe’s greatest refugee emergency since World War II, this migration issue has resulted in tragedy on many levels and the closing of borders has been contested. The explanations are understandable: Most of the countries that were liberated from the Soviet yoke 25 years ago are still poorer than their neighbors; many have never had large numbers of people from distant parts of the world on their lands; and many have only a limited familiarity with the crises of the Middle East. Poland, for example, seems to want to extend their welcome to Christian refugees. All these things, however, are beside the point in the face of this world crisis. Learn more about this story and others in Polish Media Watch

Calendar Highlights
Sunday, September 27 Lawrence County Polish Day It is sure to be a great time! Sunday, September 27 Holy Rosary's Dozynki Festival, Baltimore Most excited about their version of Saint John Paul II's favorite cream pastries-Kremowki and a performance from Jedliniok Folk Ensemble straight from University in Wroclaw! ... October 15, 7:30 PM  Barnes & Noble, Boardman Pol-Am Heritage Month Book Club discussion of Elizabeth Wein's book Rose Under Fire... November 8 Annual Chinese Auction, St. Stanislaus Kostka... Saturday, November 28, 8:00 PM Lira Ensemble Holiday Show, Cleveland

Do Zobaczenia!
Aundréa and Your PolishYoungstown Team