Annual Oplatek – December 28, 2007


From: The Polish Times – January 2, 2008
West Side Detroit Polish American Historical Society Holds Annual “Opłatek”The West Side Detroit Polish American Historical Society held its Christmas event entitled ‘Annual Opłatek’ on Friday, December 28, at its headquarters in historic St. Hedwig Catholic Church. The event included a tour of the church and Heritage Room led by society President and church archivist Adam Lis.

St. Hedwig’s was the third Polish parish established on Detroit’s west side. Bishop Foley appointed Father John Mueller pastor on July 3, 1902.

Later on, St. Hedwig’s Parish was dissolved in 1905 until a new group of priests more loyal to Detroit bishops – Polish Franciscans – were recruited to staff and manage St. Hedwig’s Parish.

Father Eustace Bartoszewicz was appointed pastor in 1912 and, five years later, the magnificent church was completed.

Later the parish established a large elementary school and then a high school that survived for 49 years until the out migration of Poles and other from this neighborhood led to its closing. The elementary school closed five years later.

Surprisingly, this neighborhood became a destination point for newly arriving immigrants from Mexico. The priests of the parish, rather than offering Mass in Polish as they did a century ago, now serve the needs of their Spanish-speaking parishioners.

The feature event of the Friday's program was a presentation of polish kolędy led by west side music director/organist Steve Frayer. He sung some of the most popular Polish Christmas carols, including “Dzisiaj w Betlejem,” “Lulajźe Jezuniu,” “Gdy się Chrystus rodzi” and the oldest Polish kolęda (written in 1554) “Anioł pasterzom mówił”.

After the program refreshments were served. Many participants expressed their interest in joining the society.

The West Side Detroit Polish American Historical Society was incorporated as a non-profit organization in February 2006. It exists for the observation, study, appreciation, and preservation of the history of west side Detroit Polonia’s neighborhoods and the Polish-American immigrants who settled and continued to build the community throughout the decades. This includes their descendants and their neighbors, surrounding institutions, businesses, and churches. The society also serves as a repository of historical archives, including artifacts, documents, oral histories, and other significant records relevant to its mission and purposes.

A very special thank you to Sebastian Szczepanski for allowing us to reprint the above article from The Polish Times.

Email from Steve Frayer…
Subject: Dziekuje bardzo!
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007
Dear Adam, Don, Laurie, and members of the WSDPAHS—

I’ve been walking on air all evening after the presentation of koledy this afternoon! To be able to come “home” to the place where my great grandparents were married, where my great aunt and grandmother were baptized, and to be able to share our beautiful koledy was an absolute joy that I’ll never forget! Thank you so much for inviting me to share in your oplatek celebration!

For me, it’s so important to share the heritage that we were brought up with; so that others can remember and through music, be transported back to a more innocent time; to once again see the lights of Busia and Dziadzia’s and Mom and Dad’s tree, to smell the fragrances from the kitchen, to reminisce and perhaps to shed a sentimental tear, to remember the love and warmth that transcends generations as only our koledy can do.

It also was SO GOOD to be able to play in a big beautiful old church once again. Since St. John Cantius closed, there’s been a bit of a loss for me. I miss the grand old organ that I used to play. But, St. John Cantius has earned her rest, and now she belongs to the ages. Being among you today made me reflect on my years in the parish, and made me smile and hold tightly to myself the beauty and majesty of playing for Pasterkas past!

Once again, Dziekuje bardzo! I’ll always be available for the WSDPAHS for whatever they need. May the tiny hand of Jesus born in Bethlehem bless all of you, enable all of you to realize the fulfillment of all of your dreams for the upcoming New Year ahead, and give you peace and fulfillment in all things you undertake.

With gratitude always—

Steve Frayer

To Contact Steve Frayer:
Phone: (734) 427-6776