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Polish Ambassador to the United States Visits University of St. Thomas

Polish Ambassador to the United States, Honorable Marek Magierowski, visits University of  St. Thomas campus. Pictured left to right: Ewa Pietrasieńska, Vice Consul of Consulate in Houston, Hans Stockton, Former Director and Professor of International Studies, Michalina Mrugala, Assistant Director for Academic Success, Robert Rusiecki, Chief Consul of Consulate in Houston, Richard Ludwick, President, University of St Thomas, Hon. Marek Magierowski, Polish Ambassador to the United States, Piotr Przybylski, Assistant Director for Polish Studies, St John Paul II Institute, George Harne, Executive Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and John Hittinger, Director, St John Paul II Institute.Making a visit to Houston, Honorable Marek Magierowski, Polish Ambassador to the United States, came by the University of St. Thomas to visit with the St. John Paul II Institute’s Director John Hittinger and meet the University President Richard Ludwick.

“The University of St. Thomas was honored today by a visit from the new Polish ambassador to the United States, Marek Magierowski,” Hittinger said.  “A group of us spoke to the Ambassador about our new Polish Studies Program and the influence of Pope John Paul II on Poland and the world.  In light of current events in east-central Europe, the Ambassador expressed his confidence in the strength of Polish-American friendship. We also made plans to discuss programs for the exchange of students between Poland the United States.”

Ambassador Magierowski will return to the University of St. Thomas campus on Wednesday, Feb. 23, to meet with Polish Americans living in Houston. This is an invitation-only event. Please contact the Polish Consulate in Houston for more information about the meeting.

Strong Polish Presence in America, Texas and Houston

There are 10 million Americans of Polish descent in the United States. Poles immigrated to Texas in the mid-19th century, making homes in places that included College Station, Panna Maria and Brenham where they were farmers. Today, Houston has a large Polish population estimated at 80,000. In addition, many Polish companies are doing business in Houston in the oil and gas sector and the Texas Medical Center.  Houston has a Polish/American Chamber of Commerce. Two years ago, Poland opened a consulate in Houston, and only four cities in the Americas can claim the distinction. Also, Houston’s Polish parish, Our Lady of Czestochowa, located on Blalock Road in Spring Branch, celebrates Mass in Polish.

UST Offers Polish Studies Program, Study Abroad in Poland

In 2021, UST launched its new program of Polish Studies at the St. John Paul II Institute. Undergraduates can earn a minor in Polish Studies in online courses including Introduction to Polish culture, the history of Poland in the 20th Century, the Polish language, as well as courses in Polish art, film, literature and politics.

Saint John Paul II Institute at UST

The Institute was founded in 2019 to facilitate the understanding of the life and work of St. John Paul II in the context of Polish history and culture.  The Institute offers courses on the thought of John Paul II for both graduate and undergraduate students. A capstone course features travel to sites in Poland that have special relevance to the life and work of John Paul II.  The flagship Master of Arts in Saint John Paul II Studies has more than 40 students enrolled from more than a dozen states and various countries around the globe including Australia, Italy, Cameroon, the Philippines and Lesotho.

Dr. Hittinger has co-written several articles with Piotr Przybylski, Assistant Director for Polish Studies, on the UST JP II Studies and Polish Studies programs for the Kuryer Polski, a Polish American journal based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and other Polish American publications.

For information, contact Dr. Hittinger, director of UST’s Saint John Paul II Institute, at hittinger@stthom.edu or 713-525-2155.