• February 2, 2015
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The winners of the plebiscite “Pole of the Year” awarded

“Everyone from the ten deserves such a cup, since we all play in one orchestra together” – said Sister Michaela Rak, the winner of the Readers’ Plebiscite promoted by “Kurier Wileński” magazine “Pole of the Year 2014”.

The award ceremony was held on Sunday, February the 1st in the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius. It is the 17th edition of the competition, which aims is to award those who contributed to the issues of Poles in Lithuania the most in the last year. The ocean of flowers, countless honest expressions, the room full of guests, touching speeches of winners, great sense of humor of the host Anna Adamowicz (also the winner of the title “Pole of the Year 2004”), congregational prayer and singing the legendary “Barka”, the concert of well-known musicians from the Vilnius Region – all of these made the atmosphere of Sunday ceremony especially warm. But let’s start from the beginning.

Sister Michaela Rak, the founder of St. Michael Sopoćko Hospice in Vilnius, was the winner of our traditional plebiscite by getting 1759 votes from the Readers. It is the second award that was given to Sister Michaela lately. At the end of last year, Sister Michaela was the first Pole to be awarded a St. Christopher statuette, given to people and institutions prominent in Vilnius. She stayed in Gorzów Wielkopolski before, where she was one of the founders of St. Kamil Hospice.

– Politics, charity, science, culture, economy, and other spheres of life must go together. One cannot marginalise them saying that something is more and less important.

Everyone from the ten deserves such a cup, since we all play in one orchestra together. We play the same piece – it is the love that leads to heaven – said much touched Sister Michaela while receiving the crystal cup. – Let’s play in that orchestra together, without a glitch, and let the God conduct us! This year’s winner once again pointed out that she was grateful for the hard work, selfless and honest help offered to the sick, and performing the mission together by the staff members and charity workers from the Vilnian hospice.

Apart from Sister Michaela, among the honorary ten were also the starost of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania in the Lithuanian parliament Rita Tamašunienė, the head teacher of Jozef Obrembski Gymnasium in Mejszagola Alfreda Jankowska, the head teacher of John Paul II Gymnasium in Vilnius Adam Błaszkiewicz, the dean and parish priest of the Parish of the Finding of the Holy Cross in Vilnius pr. Rusłan Wilkiel, the editor of the portal Wilnoteka.lt Walenty Wojniłło, the former long-standing director of the Administration of Local Government of Šalčininkai district Bolesław Daszkiewicz, the chairperson of the Social Committee for Care of Old Rossa Alicja Klimaszewska, the chairperson of the Association of Poles in Lithuania in Vandžiogala (Kaunas District) Ryszard Jankowski, and the dean of the Faculty of Economics and Informatics of the University of Bialystok in Vilnius prof. Jarosław Wołkonowski.

The ten candidates to the title (from the total number of them put in for the competition by the readers) were chosen by the Plebiscite Management, which consists of the winners of plebiscites from previous editions. The Readers of the magazine voted for the winners by sending tickets with names of their favorites. The number of tickets was counted by the Plebiscite Management at the beginning of January. The competition would be impossible without readers; therefore, ten of them were given special awards from the editorial board during Sunday ceremony.

– It is a traditional competition. Readers, who put the candidates in for the competition, and then vote for them by sending tickets, play the most important role. The management, which consists of the winners of plebiscites from previous editions and chose candidates, is a very important body. It is a very difficult and delicate task – said the executive editor of “Kurier Wileński” magazine Robert Mickiewicz. – Of course, the competition would not be possible without people on this stage. These people are the symbol of Polishness in Lithuania. Thanks to their work, the Vilnius Region is getting richer.

Member of the Parliament Rita Tamašunienė, who took second place, spoke as well. She thanked the organisers for organising the competition, and Readers for their votes. – I thank, above all, for voting for charity this time, i.e. for Sister Michaela, who is living proof of true charity. Thanks to her, sick and lonely people find joy in their lives, receive help, and are loved. I am glad that our society is spiritually healthy, and that they vote for deserving people – said Tamašunienė.

It is worth pointing out that all candidates – like never before – were unanimous in conviction that the winner of this year’s competition must be Sister Michaela. – I am glad that this year’s winner is a person who more than all of us contributed to the creation of the positive image of a Pole in Lithuania – pointed out Adam Błaszkiewicz.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the management of “Kurier Wileński” magazine Zygmunt Klonowski pointed out that the final of this year’s plebiscite was especially moving, and that by looking at the list of winners one could describe the history of the Vilnius Region. – Before every competition, I ask myself what most important can be said of a winner. What good has he or she done? This time I had a problem, not because nothing has been done, but because so much has been done! Sister Michaela came to Lithuania alone; she arrived in a foreign city, not knowing anyone, and she managed to achieve so much. Apparently, if someone believes in what he or she does, even the impossible becomes possible – said Zygmunt Klonowski.

Many honourable guests attended the ceremony of the 17th edition of the plebiscite “Pole of the Year”, among which were minister-counsellor and Consul General of the Republic of Poland Stanisław Cygnarowski, minister-counsellor and the director of Trade and Investment Promotion Section of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland Henryk Szymański, the director of the Polish Institute in Vilnius Małgorzata Kasner, Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania from AWLP (Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania) and the chairman of the Association of Polish teachers in Lithuania “Macierz Szkolna” Józef Kwiatkowski, Vilnius Deputy Mayor from AWPL Jarosław Kamiński, the secretary of the Association of Poles in Lithuania Edward Trusewicz, the Mayor of the Šalčininkai District from AWLP Zdzisław Palewicz, the director of administration of the local government of the Vilnius Region Lucyna Kotłowska, the chairman of the Polish University of Third Age in Šalčininkai Antoni Jankowski, the director of Stanisław Moniuszko Culture Centre Apolonia Skakowska; the representatives of local governments of the Vilnius Region, Švenčionys District, Trakai District and Širvintos District. During the ceremony, a congratulatory letter from the signer of the Act of Independence of Lithuania and the chairman of the radio station “Znad Wilii” Czesław Okińczyc was read.

After the official ceremony, there was a concert performance prepared for the guests. The members of “Klub Miłośników Pieśni Biesiadnej” performed on stage. After each song the audience gave a big hand to Jasia Mackiewicz, Jarosław Królikowski, Diana Woroniecka, Teresa Markiewicz, Ryszard Bryżys and Zbigniew Sinkiewicz.

“KURIER WILEŃSKI” THANKS THE SPONSORS

The project was co-funded within the framework of the Polish funding of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. It was also supported by Baltisches Haus (“Ika”chain stores), the Insurance Company COMPENSA, Lisenas Company, Kamion bakery and the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius.

The winners of the plebiscite “Pole of the Year” from previous years:

1998 – Jan Mincewicz
1999 – Jan Sienkiewicz
2000 – Zofia Matarewicz
2001 and 2005 – Waldemar Tomaszewski
2002 – Ksiądz Wacław Wołodkowicz
2003 – Ksiądz Dariusz Stańczyk
2004 – Anna Adamowicz,
2006 – Józef Kwiatkowski
2007 – Barbara Kosinskienė,
2008 – Antoni Jankowski
2009 – Leonard Talmont
2010–  Zdzisław Palewicz
2011–  Jadwiga Sinkiewicz
2012 – Edward Trusewicz
2013 – Maria Rekść

I dearly thank all of you who voted for me in the plebiscite “Pole of the Year 2014” – both for the appreciation expressed on the Internet pages and filling the tickets. I thank the Plebiscite Management and staff members of “Kurier Wileński” magazine, and all who gathered during the ceremony, and all the Media which promoted the project. I especially thank and express my appreciation to charity workers and staff members of the Hospice – thank you for being with us! Thanks to you, mission Hospice is more recognisable. The hospice will still be ready to help and be with those in need.

With kind regards and gratitude, Sister Michaela Rak

Translated by Tomasz Szatkowski within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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