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Entries : Polish Roman Catholic Union of America
Polish Roman Catholic Union of America

Polish Roman Catholic Union of America

The Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCU) is the oldest Polish fraternal organization in the United States. Founded in 1873 by the Reverend Vincent Barzynski and the Reverend Theodore Gieryk, it held its first convention in Chicago the following year, at Reverend Barzynski's St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish. Adopting as its motto “For God and Country,” the group committed the PRCU to ethnic unity, mutual aid, insurance and death benefits, the care of “widows, widowers and orphans,” and “absolute obedience to the bishops, and pastors anointed by them.” Dominated by the clergy in its early years, the PRCU emphasized its Catholic character, especially in contrast to its more secular rival, the Polish National Alliance (PNA).

By the turn of the century, the PRCU, already 12,500 strong, had paid out more than one million dollars in death benefits. In the years that followed, in addition to providing war relief during both world wars, the PRCU dedicated itself to educational institutions, libraries, hospital work, home mortgage assistance, support for youth athletics and activities, cultural preservation projects, Polish and English language instruction, and its long-standing commitment to life insurance for Poles in Europe and America. Membership peaked in the mid-1950s, when the PRCU served more than 175,000 Polish Americans in some 1,075 lodges nationwide. At the close of the twentieth century it listed more than 300 lodges in the greater Chicago area and nearly three times that number in 23 states outside of Illinois.

Haiman, Miecislaus. Zjednoczenie Polskie Rzymsko-Katolickie w Ameryce, 1873–1948. 1948.
Parot, Joseph John. Polish Catholics in Chicago, 1850–1920: A Religious History. 1981.