Before heading home across the Atlantic, Slovak Republic President Ivan Gasparovic and other dignitaries traveled from the NATO summit in Chicago to Lisle on Monday evening to officially open the Consulate of the Slovak Republic in Chicago. The ceremony held at the Krasa Center at Benedictine University also included the installation of Rosemary Macko Wisnosky as honorary consul, a position left vacant in 2010 when Thomas Klimek Ward retired.
The entrance to the spacious Krasa Center was enhanced with an exhibit of contemporary artwork by three prominent Slovak artists. Instrumental music was performed by Benet Academy and Benedictine University students as guests arrived. Before the installation ceremony began, CEOs from a number of U.S. businesses had participated in a scheduled business meeting arranged with President Gasparovic at Benedictine. And the stage was set for a memorable cultural event.
After a warm welcome, the large audience listened with the help of an interpreter as President Gasparovic; Dr. William Carroll, President of Benedictine University; Mrs. Judy Biggert, U.S. House of Representatives; H.E. Mr. Peter Burian, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the U.S.; and H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajcak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic provided history with optimism about “great things ahead for America and the Slovak Republic,” to use Biggert’s words.
Carroll considered it an honor for Benedictine University to host the special installation of the honorary Slovak consul for two reasons.
“Rosemary is a long serving Benedictine University Trustee and a wonderful advocate and supporter of Slovakia,” noted Carroll, reflecting on the college’s founding in Chicago as St. Procopius College by the Benedictine monks of St. Procopius Abbey in 1887.
“This installation also reminds Benedictine University of its roots as an institution founded to educate Czechoslovakian immigrants. The values instilled in these immigrants by the early monks of St. Procopius Abbey are the same values we instill in our students today.”
“I have great pride in my heritage,” Wisnosky noted in an earlier statement. “Through the years I have developed wide networks of people in Slovakia and in the United States that have continued to enrich my understanding of the culture and history in the region. As honorary consul, my first interest is helping to develop economic ties between the two countries.”
Wisnosky expressed gratitude to her family and she said she was “humbled and honored that so many came” to her installation. “Thank you in advance for that support that I will seek from you,” she said with emphasis.
During the ceremony, the Benet Academy Madrigal Choir, directed by Brian Wand, sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and Slovakia’s national anthem, “Nad Tatrou Sa Blyska.” Veselica, a Slovak folk ensemble from Chicago, also performed.
In the role of honorary consul, Wisnosky will help organize official Slovak visits, help develop Slovak commercial, economic and tourist events, extend assistance to scientists, artists, journalists, teachers, students and others, and assist citizens of the Slovak Republic abroad who find themselves in distress, as defined by international law.
The consular office is located at 34 S. Washington Street, Naperville. For an appointment, contact Wisnosky at (630) 816-1634 or Chicago@HonorarySlovakConsul.com.
Did you know? Rosemary Wisnosky, a Naperville resident of Slovak heritage, has been actively involved in cultural exchanges, economic development and various diplomatic efforts with Slovakia throughout the past 25 years. She served as a founding member of the Slovak American Cultural Society of the Midwest in the late 1980s. A few years later, Naperville Mayor Samuel Macrane asked her to be on a task force to identify several cities within emerging Central and Eastern European democracies that would be good candidates to become a sister city. The task force established 31 criteria and held competitions with several cities. Because of many similarities to Naperville, Nitra, Slovakia, was ultimately selected, and a partnership between the two cities was formalized in 1993. Wisnosky sat on the Sister Cities Commission and became its second chair.
Wisnosky also assisted Thomas Klimek Ward who served in the position from 1995 until 2010. When he retired, he recommended that Wisnosky be named to that position.
Wisnosky has traveled to Slovakia numerous times. In 1993, she went there to ratify the Sister City agreement and visited again in 1996 in an official capacity. In 1998, she returned to Slovakia as part of a delegation to celebrate the 750th anniversary of Nitra receiving a royal city charter. Then, in 2000, she traveled to Slovakia with Ward because each of them was being named “Honored Citizen of Nitra.” It was the first time the award was given to anyone not born on Slovak soil. The honor was later bestowed on Mayor Pradel as well. Wisnosky’s entire family joined her at that time and visited the ancestral villages of Rosemary’s grandparents.
In 2011 Wisnosky visited Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, for her honorary consul candidate interview, which was led by senior members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During her stay, with assistance from the Slovak government, she and her colleague, Juraj Siska, introduced several interested U.S. businesses to potential Slovak business partners.
A past president of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, Wisnosky also is a member of the Rotary Club of Naperville and the Board of Directors of the Heritage YMCA Group.
Photos by Jo Lundeen and PN.
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