Start Date

13-11-2015 4:45 PM

End Date

13-11-2015 6:00 PM

Abstract

A Brief PRCUA History

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. I would first like to express my grateful thanks to Loyola University and the Chicago Catholic Immigrants Conference for hosting this forum and discussion on the history and influence of the Polish people in Chicago and the part that the POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION of AMERICA played in it.

The Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCUA), is the mother of all Polish American fraternal organizations. The PRCUA was established in Detroit, MI, in 1873 by Rev. Teodor Gieryk, Rev. Wincenty Barzynski, C.R. and Jan Barzynski, editor of the Missouri Polish newspaper Pielgrzym. The following year, the organization moved to Chicago’s near north side, where a large population of Polish immigrants was concentrated.

The purpose of the Union was to unite all Polish Catholics into a mutual aid society of Christian unity dedicated to meeting members’ physical and spiritual needs. The PRCUA urged its members to blend their Polish culture and deep religious faith with American ideals, to create a Polish American community based upon dedication to “God and Country” – the organization’s motto.

From its inception, the PRCUA pioneered social programs to assist its members financially by collecting donations for widows, orphans and the needy. In its early years, the organization raised funds to build an orphanage and hospital in Chicago and donated funds to build a Polish seminary, as well as churches and parochial schools, from New England to the Midwest.

In 1886, a life insurance system was initiated, providing a source of income for the PRCUA, and thereby enabling it to initiate programs in response to members’ growing social needs. That same year, the PRCUA established a publication, which underwent several name changes, but has been published as Narod Polski since 1897.

In 1897, the PRCUA was the first fraternal to open membership to women. Two years later, it granted women the right to vote – two decades before the U.S. Constitution did so. This sparked the growth of the PRCUA and by 1902, membership had reached 19,000 nationwide.

In response to this expansion, the PRCUA built its headquarters at the corner of Augusta and Milwaukee in Chicago – the same building that it occupies today. In the large building, the PRCUA opened a Polish Library in 1915, and the Museum and Archives of the PRCUA in 1935. Today, those autonomous non-profit institutions are known as The Polish Museum of America (PMA) and its Library. This was the first ethnic museum in America. The world renowned Museum is recognized as a priceless treasury that preserves Poland’s and Polish America’s past, as well as its art, customs, traditions and culture. Its Library boasts over 90,000 volumes and the largest collection of Polish books in the USA.

The PRCUA has promoted camaraderie among its members by sponsoring national sports tournaments, Polish dance and language schools, presentation balls for teens, holiday gatherings, and much more, including the Polish traditions of SWIECONKA at Easter and OPLATEK sharing at Christmas.

The PRCUA has a 142-year legacy of charitable endeavors. During labor strikes in early America, the PRCUA could be counted on to send assistance to Polish workers. During times of war, floods, and martial law in Poland, money was collected to send food, medical supplies and ambulances to the Polish people. The PRCUA has generously supported SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, MI, the Polish Museum of America and other institutions.

The PRCUA is currently licensed to sell life insurance and annuities in 24 states. It also offers its members low-cost home mortgages, as well as scholarships, grants and loans for higher education.

Today, the PRCUA is the largest Polish Roman Catholic fraternal benefit society in the United States with approximately 50,000 members. The PRCUA enjoys financial stability generated by its low-cost life insurance programs and excellent annuity programs. The organization looks forward to a bright future, built upon its legacy of 142 years of effectively serving the needs of its members and the Polish American community.

Share

COinS
 
Nov 13th, 4:45 PM Nov 13th, 6:00 PM

Polish Roman Catholic Union of America

A Brief PRCUA History

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. I would first like to express my grateful thanks to Loyola University and the Chicago Catholic Immigrants Conference for hosting this forum and discussion on the history and influence of the Polish people in Chicago and the part that the POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC UNION of AMERICA played in it.

The Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCUA), is the mother of all Polish American fraternal organizations. The PRCUA was established in Detroit, MI, in 1873 by Rev. Teodor Gieryk, Rev. Wincenty Barzynski, C.R. and Jan Barzynski, editor of the Missouri Polish newspaper Pielgrzym. The following year, the organization moved to Chicago’s near north side, where a large population of Polish immigrants was concentrated.

The purpose of the Union was to unite all Polish Catholics into a mutual aid society of Christian unity dedicated to meeting members’ physical and spiritual needs. The PRCUA urged its members to blend their Polish culture and deep religious faith with American ideals, to create a Polish American community based upon dedication to “God and Country” – the organization’s motto.

From its inception, the PRCUA pioneered social programs to assist its members financially by collecting donations for widows, orphans and the needy. In its early years, the organization raised funds to build an orphanage and hospital in Chicago and donated funds to build a Polish seminary, as well as churches and parochial schools, from New England to the Midwest.

In 1886, a life insurance system was initiated, providing a source of income for the PRCUA, and thereby enabling it to initiate programs in response to members’ growing social needs. That same year, the PRCUA established a publication, which underwent several name changes, but has been published as Narod Polski since 1897.

In 1897, the PRCUA was the first fraternal to open membership to women. Two years later, it granted women the right to vote – two decades before the U.S. Constitution did so. This sparked the growth of the PRCUA and by 1902, membership had reached 19,000 nationwide.

In response to this expansion, the PRCUA built its headquarters at the corner of Augusta and Milwaukee in Chicago – the same building that it occupies today. In the large building, the PRCUA opened a Polish Library in 1915, and the Museum and Archives of the PRCUA in 1935. Today, those autonomous non-profit institutions are known as The Polish Museum of America (PMA) and its Library. This was the first ethnic museum in America. The world renowned Museum is recognized as a priceless treasury that preserves Poland’s and Polish America’s past, as well as its art, customs, traditions and culture. Its Library boasts over 90,000 volumes and the largest collection of Polish books in the USA.

The PRCUA has promoted camaraderie among its members by sponsoring national sports tournaments, Polish dance and language schools, presentation balls for teens, holiday gatherings, and much more, including the Polish traditions of SWIECONKA at Easter and OPLATEK sharing at Christmas.

The PRCUA has a 142-year legacy of charitable endeavors. During labor strikes in early America, the PRCUA could be counted on to send assistance to Polish workers. During times of war, floods, and martial law in Poland, money was collected to send food, medical supplies and ambulances to the Polish people. The PRCUA has generously supported SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, MI, the Polish Museum of America and other institutions.

The PRCUA is currently licensed to sell life insurance and annuities in 24 states. It also offers its members low-cost home mortgages, as well as scholarships, grants and loans for higher education.

Today, the PRCUA is the largest Polish Roman Catholic fraternal benefit society in the United States with approximately 50,000 members. The PRCUA enjoys financial stability generated by its low-cost life insurance programs and excellent annuity programs. The organization looks forward to a bright future, built upon its legacy of 142 years of effectively serving the needs of its members and the Polish American community.