The month of October is finally here, and as we feast our eyes on the vivid colors of the falling leaves, we are once again reminded of the beauty and splendor of God’s creation. Yet for many practicing Catholics, especially those of Polish origin, the uniqueness of this month resides elsewhere.
Since 1986, the month of October has been referred to as the Month of Polish Heritage. It is during this special time that American Polonia reflects on its culture and celebrates its significant contributions to American history. Needless to say, Poles have played a major role in the making of American history ever since the first colonial settlers set foot on the New World back in the 17th century. Polish immigration to America gained momentum at the turn of the 20th century when millions of our Polish ancestors entered the United States bringing along with them profound love and attachment to their native culture and traditions. Among them were five Little Servant Sisters who in 1926 arrived in Brooklyn, NY on a steamship from the Motherhouse of the Congregation in Stara Wies, district Brzozow, Poland.
Since then, the Little Servant Sisters have faithfully served the American Polonia and in the spirit of Edmund Bojanowski, the founder of their mother congregation, they have fostered the Polish character on American soil.
Since the 1970s, the Little Servants’ major preoccupation on American soil has been to serve the elderly, predominantly those of Polish origin though not exclusively. From 1973 to the hall in Woodbridge, NJ became Strawberry Hill Senior Day Center and it remained active until its inevitable demolition in 2006. In 1981, the Little Servant Sisters entered a new venture in Woodbridge, NJ, with the dedication of the newly constructed St. Joseph Senior Residence, now Assisted Living. In 1992, the adjacent St. Joseph’s Nursing Center was added.
Thanks to the continuing effort of the sisters, St. Joseph’s Senior home is a true mainstay of Polishness for American Polonia. The staff and the
sisters who run the facility never fail to adhere to Polish customs. Whether it is serving traditional polish dishes and breaking the “opłatek” wafer at the Christmas Eve dinner, or Blessing of the food and traditional Easter breakfast, the residents can always cherish the centuries-old, folk Polish traditions.
However, the Polishness of St. Joseph’s Senior home does not confine merely to such holidays as Christmas or Easter. In fact, the Polish character and traditions emanate from every detail of the facility. It is enough to look at the menu where such dishes as gołąbki, pierogi, and kiełbasa are a very common choice. Another initiative aimed at upholding and celebrating Polish customs at St. Joseph’s Senior Home is to organize events for the residents and their families where Polish music and traditional folk dances are performed.