The Polish Heritage Society met for the first time on Oct. 24, 2006. Harry Kozikowski and Mary Anne Kelly Zak established the group in 2006 to collect, preserve, and perpetuate the culture and history of the Polish immigrants who had come to Suffield at about the turn of the 20th century. Since its beginning, the PHS has helped to ensure that the foundation of Suffield Polonia will not be forgotten. Many members recorded their family stories. The group created cultural exhibits at the King House and Kent Memorial Library. It organized musical events such as an accordion concert, a folk music presentation and CD, and the annual Polish Christmas carol-sing. For the past few years, the PHS has been present at Suffield on the Green, and a contingent of Polish Americans participated in Suffield’s 350th Anniversary Parade.
Over the past few years, the society has lost many first-generation Polish Americans and its founders, Harry Kozikowski and Mary Anne Kelly Zak. As a result, the PHS Planning Committee has decided on a new direction for the coming year. Our goal will be to attract the interest and participation of second and third-generation Polish Americans and native Poles who immigrated after the fall of Communism. With that new goal, we will discontinue weekday meetings and plan to start having evening meetings by the end of this year.
In the meantime, the PHS will remain active in the community, thanks to the support of the Suffield Historical Society and Sacred Heart Parish. These two organizations are critical to the continuity of the PHS. As the parent organization for the PHS, the Historical Society recognizes the role that Polish immigrants played in developing our town. Hopefully, long-range plans of the Society will include a room dedicated to Suffield Polish History. Given the importance of Catholicism to our Polish ancestors, Sacred Heart Parish sustains that part of our culture. Father Joseph Keough, the pastor, said he “is committed to helping keep this vital community together.” as he reaches out to the members of the St. Joseph parish family in the hope that they will continue to share their Polish culture with the Sacred Heart Parish Family. Whether it is first, second, or third generation, the Polish American experience, like all of our ethnic heritages, is a necessary part of our parish life.” Please stay tuned to future articles and the Suffield Polish Heritage Society Facebook group for announcements of our activities. We will always welcome more participation.