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Annual Painesville Founder's Day Breakfast; Pasterka: Shepherd's Mass and Three Kings Day

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On Saturday, January 6th, we attended the annual Painesville "Founder's Day Breakfast" put on by the "Downtown Painesville Organization" in the Holden Center at Lake Erie College.

On this occasion, Mr. Lee Coffee, Jr., did a re-enactment of Sgt. Emanuel Stance who was a "Buffalo Soldier" which, according to Wikipedia, was a nickname given to the African-American Calvary by Native American tribes who often contested them. Sgt. Stance was the first post-civil war African-American soldier to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery during an action when a kidnapped pioneer child was rescued from the Apaches. Mr. Coffee chose Sgt. Stance as the focus of his presentation because he was fascinated by his complexities; on one hand he was a person who came into his own and fulfilled his leadership potential through his military service but on the other hand he could often be quite cruel and could never get a handle on his drinking; accordingly, he was self-destructive.

Mr. Coffee, himself, is a native of Painesville and was there with his family. He, himself, served in the U.S. Army for over 20 years and is also the Founder and CEO of "To the Resue" (just what Sgt. Stance and others like him did) which "is an enterprise that provides strategic planning, workplace diversity, team building and leadership development workshops to corporate, non-profit, and government employees." Its website is www.torescue.com

After his military service, he was inspired by a visit to the the "Geronimo Springs Museum" in New Mexico to find out more about the the role that African-Americans have played in our armed forces over the years and is now a recognized authority on this topic. We learned from him that African-Americans have fought in all the wars that the United States has engaged in including the Revolutionary War (1775-1783).

Mr. Coffee expressed his admiration for Painesville and its history by recalling that in the 1850's its people often assisted slaves attempting to escape to Canada. At the end of his presentation, he presented his own check to Mr. Aurora Martinez, the Director of the Morley Library in Painesville, because he wanted to make "a contribution for the future" and because so much of his self-education was accomplished through reading. 

Quite a few of the people we know in Painesville turned out for this annual event including several member of the Painesville City Council. In addition, we enjoyed connecting with a person who immigrated to the United States from Europe years ago and is currently a permanent resident; thus, we gave her/him our contact information at "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" in case citizenship plans were in the works.

 

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On Sunday, January 7th, we met another immigrant who was Ms. Agatha Golub who came here from Poland quite a few years ago. Ms. Golub was instrumental in organizing the "Pasterka" (Shepherd's Mass and Three Kings Day) program that took place at St. Casimir Church on Sowinski Avenue that afternoon. A genuinely humble person, Ms. Golub told us that it was "an honor" for her to be able to assist on such a special occasion.

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Wikipedia defines "Pasterka" as "a Midnight mass celebrated by Roman Catholics during Christmas between 24 and 25 of December across Poland. A close translation of the name would be the 'Shepherds' Mass' (literally: 'that which belongs to the shepherds in Polish), in reference to the Biblical shepherds, who were visited by an angel and told of the birth of Christ..."

We were told by our friends Dr. Mitchell Bienia and Mr. Stan Zadnik that due to the fact that many people find it tough to get out so late on Christmas Eve the decision was made to conduct the "Pasterka" program once more. Actually a second "Pasterka" celebration, taking place in rotating Polish churches in the Southwestern suburbs of Cleveland, was a tradition from 1977-2005 until it was cancelled due to waning attendance. Last year, however, the practice was revived at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Lorain and this year was the time to hold it at St. Casimir Church and next year it will take place at still another location.

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Since January 6th, was "Three Kings Day" reference was also made to it during the course of the "Pasterka" mass which was conducted in Polish by Father George Kusy who came to us from St. Cyprian Parish in Perry Township and in English by Father Eric Orzech who is associated with both St. Casimir and St. Stanislaus Church.

During his sermon, Father Orzech talked about the importance of Christmas Eve to those of the Catholic faith. He termed it a necessary time of "reconciliation and forgiveness" which is why it was deemed so important that this mass by given a second time for accessibility reasons. 

Before the proceedings started, Dr. Bienia told us that the carols we would hear would not be bouncy or upbeat in the traditional Christmas carol sense but would instead be more like lullabys; beautiful in their simplicity and melodic which was exactly what they proved to be.

All told, we heard it from several people that "Pasterka" was a requisite part of the Polish heritage that is practiced wherever people of Polish descent live throughout the world. It was also said that it should be shared with others so we felt very welcomed and were glad that we were able to attend.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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