'Father Miro' receives award
Richard Schnepf, left, Polish ambassador to the United States, was among those who attended a gala in May 2013 honoring the Rev. Miroslaw Stelmaszczyk -- Father Miro -- of Holy Family Church in East Deer by a nonprofit group that promotes educational and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Poland, and the understanding of Polish culture and history.
Photo by Courtesy of KOSCIUSZKO FOUNDATION
The Rev. Miroslaw Stelmaszczyk of Holy Family Catholic Church of East Deer is known by a number of names: Father Miro, the Potato Pancake Prince and, now, Polonian of the Year.
The Pittsburgh chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation bestowed its most prestigious cultural award to Father Miro at the organization's 29th annual Polonian of the Year luncheon last weekend at the DoubleTree hotel in Green Tree.
The Kosciuszko Foundation is a nonprofit that promotes educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and Poland and the understanding of Polish culture and history.
Father Miro, 62, was born in Kraszewice, Poland, and worked nine years in Poland as a priest before coming to the United States in 1986.
He has served in a number of churches in the region including St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Carnegie, St. Clare of Assisi in Clairton, St. Catherine of Sweden in Hampton, and his current position, pastor of Holy Family Church.
Several dignitaries attended Saturday's ceremony including Richard Schnepf, Polish ambassador to the United States, and the Polish consulate in Pittsburgh, Jan Saykiewicz.
According to John Bartus, president of the Pittsburgh chapter of The Kosciuszko Foundation, Father Miro won his group's annual cultural award for a number of reasons.
Among his accomplishments, Father Miro led the opening prayer of a legislative session of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011 and for a similar government event for the parliament in Canada.
“Let's face it, he's like the Pied Piper,” Bartus said.
“If he wasn't a priest, he would have made a great diplomat.”
Father Miro's enthusiasm is infectious as evidenced by his motto: “Celebrate Life.”
Adding to his legend, Father Miro makes what many consider the best Polish pancakes in Western Pennsylvania.
“He's not just there at the ethnic festivals,” Bartus said. “He actually makes the pancakes.”
Bartus added that even with Father's Miro's popularity, he still is very humble.
Past recipients of the Polonian of the Year award include former state Rep. Michael Dawida and Timothy Kuzma, president of the Polish Falcons of America.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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