The 3rd annual Dożynki Mass and Celebration was held at the historic St. Stanislaus Catholic church in Chappell Hill, Texas on Sunday, November 20, 2011. The dożynki or harvest festival is the Polish equivalent of America’s Thanksgiving holiday, a joyful celebration which dates back to the middle ages in Poland. The heart of the celebration is to bring people together in the spirit of gratitude and appreciation to God for all we have been given.
Shortly before the 9 am Mass began, dożynki bouquets were given to the female Mass attendants and the Holy Rosary was led in Polish by Father Antoni Polaniak accompanied by some of the descendants of the early Polish settlers of Chappell Hill. The Mass began with a Dożynki procession with baskets of homemade bread, bowls of salt and a wreath. The procession was led by St. Stanislaus pastor Father Jozef Musiol and Father Antoni Polaniak who were accompanied by religious education youth and adults dressed in Polish folk dress. During Mass, choir director Michael Addicks, accompanied by Brian Marshall on the violin and Michael Kurtin singing, played the organ and led the choir in singing Polish hymns. RE children in Polish folk dress brought the offerings to the altar.
Toward the end of the Mass, Father Jozef blessed the bread and salt, dożynki bouquets and basket and Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz gave a presentation on the tradition of dozynki with the children of the parish seated on the floor in front of him. The basket, bread and salt was carried out of the church in a procession and as the congregation left the church, everyone was handed a piece of the blessed bread which was then dipped in the salt and eaten.
The celebration continued with a procession to the parish hall led by fiddler Brian Marshall and followed by Father Jozef, Father Antoni and the congregation. When everyone was in the hall there was a welcoming and special presentation by the leaders of St. Stanislaus parish. Virginia Hill gave a presentation on “Our Polish Heritage” and then Father Jozef blessed the meal and everyone headed for the food table which was loaded with fried chicken, kielbasa and a large variety of covered dishes including gołąbki, kapusta, pierogi and other delicious Polish foods. A second table held delicious homemade deserts.
As the attendees ate, they were entertained by “Polska Kapela” with Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz, James Mazurkiewicz, Frank Motley, Mark Hopcus, Lawrence Wisnoski and C. J. Jozwiak playing lots of old Polish songs. When the band finished playing, Maryna Kestowicz-Lech from Our Lady of Czestochowa parish in Houston introduced Edward Winiarski who sang some lively Polish dance songs.
At 1 pm, the lights were dimmed for a showing of the Waltz to Westphalia documentary film produced by Joe Weed. The film tells the fascinating story of a Polish folk song’s transformation into an American country fiddle tune. After the film, Brian Marshall surprised the Polish Texans website editor by presenting him with several thank you cards stuffed with money that had been collected from the Texas Polish community as a token of their appreciation.
To round off the day of fun, Brian Marshall and the Texas Slavic Playboys played their unique brand of music at a special dożynki public dance. Among the many musicians and singers were Brian Marshall, Mark Halata, Sonny Janczak, Kevin Syzdek, Chuck Bolin, Charlie Brossman, Dr. Jim Mazurkiewicz, James Mazurkiewicz, Frank Motley and Brian Wisnoski. Father Antoni even got on the stage and sang a couple of Polish songs.