- Great Hall
- September 29, 2023
- Friday, 7PM to 10PM
- (773) 782 – 2600
Contact event manager
We cordially invite you to a very special Exhibition Opening Event and Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Museum’s Founder:
PRCUA. 150 Years of Cultural, Financial, and Spiritual Growth
Friday, September 29, 2023, 7pm
Free admission - donations for PMA activities are encouraged and highly appreciated
Small bites and drinks
Optional: wear a hat, fascinator, or full vintage / vintage-inspired outfit to pay homage to a bygone era
Museum Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm
Regular admission: $10
The Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCUA), founded in 1873, stands as one of the United States’ oldest and largest ethnic fraternal benefit societies. With a legacy steeped in unity and community, PRCUA continues to honor its rich heritage and shape a promising future.
The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and witness the profound journey of Polish immigrants who played a pivotal role in shaping both the PRCUA and the vibrant community it fostered. Experience a curated collection including vintage photographs, intricate banners, organizational pins and ribbons, ledger books, documents and diplomas, sports trophies, symbols of devotion, heritage, patriotism, cultural pride and fraternalism.
The Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCUA), headquartered in Chicago, IL, is a fraternal benefit society established in 1873 by Rev. Teodor Gieryk, Rev. Wincenty Barzyński, C.R., and John Barzyński, in Detroit, MI.
From its inception, the PRCUA has been a pioneer in implementing social programs to support its members. In 1886, the organization introduced an innovative insurance system. Concurrently, the PRCUA launched a publication, which has undergone several name changes but has continued as Naród Polski since 1897.
In 1897, the PRCUA led the way in granting equal membership rights to women, over two decades prior to American women receiving the right to vote.
In 1913, the organization built its headquarters at Milwaukee Avenue and Augusta Boulevard in Chicago – the same building that it occupies today. In 1915 the PRCUA opened a Library and in 1935 it founded Museum and Archives, known today as The Polish Museum of America (PMA).
The PRCUA encouraged its members to harmonize the finest aspects of their Polish culture and religious faith with the values of their newly-acquired American ideals. This harmonious blend laid the foundation for a Polish American community, firmly rooted in their commitment to “To God and Country,” the motto that epitomized the organization’s ethos.
The PRCUA has 150-year legacy of supporting charitable endeavors. Since the founding it has generously contributed substantial funds to construct churches and schools within the Polish American community. Further, it collected donations for widows, orphans and those in need as well as raised funds to build an orphanage and a hospital. Notably, during both World Wars PRCUA members extended aid to Polish refugees. In a show of solidarity during the 1980s martial law, the organization successfully raised funds for the procurement of ambulances dispatched to Poland.
The organization continues to support charitable causes and to promote camaraderie among its members by sponsoring national sports tournaments, social events and youth programs, including Polish language and dance schools.
The PRCUA is currently licensed to sell life insurance in 27 states. In addition to offering low-cost life insurance programs to its members, it also makes low-interest home mortgages, college loans and educational scholarships available to its members.
“On October 3, 1873, a group of leaders from Polonia gathered at St. Albertus Church in Detroit, MI to form an organization that would unite them. Their common bond was based on the cultural traditions brought with them from their motherland and their Roman Catholic faith. This idea came to fruition that day and has remained alive with us.”
James Robaczewski, PRCUA President
“Looking back over 150 years is no easy task. So much has changed. (In 1873)…America was still three years from the celebration of its Centennial and our beloved homeland was under foreign rule. Life was tough, money was very scarce and luxury was a dream for most. This gave rise to our Union, to help unite and protect with fraternal benefits, the thousands immigrants coming from Poland in search of a better life. We were founded to fill this important need in Polonia in 1873 and we continue to this day, fulfilling a need that still exists in Polonia in 2023. We continue to be a source of strength and unity in a fraternal atmosphere in an ever changing and complex world.”
Very Reverend Canon Walter J. Ptak
PRCUA National Chaplain