Members of the Ottawa Polish community packed into St. Hyacinth Parish yesterday evening for a special memorial Mass held for the victims of the plane crash in Smolensk, Russia on Saturday.
Among the 96 deceased were Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife. Many of the passengers on the plane were Polish diplomats and high-ranking military personnel.
Roger Furmanczyk, president of Ottawa Polonia and his wife, Renata, met Kaczynski in October 2008 when they visited the John Paul II Catholic University in Lublin.
“It is a great shock and tragedy for us. The crash of 96 persons from Poland is a catastrophe for the Polish people here in Ottawa, Canada and the world,” Furmanczyk wrote in a statement.
“This is terrible news for the Polish communities to lose so many great men and women in Poland this morning on their way to Russia to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, when the Soviets killed thousands of Poles.”
There is almost no parallel of a country losing so many high-ranking members of the government in one day, said Ryszard Bojarski, a member of the Ottawa branch of the Polish Combatants’ Association in Canada. Bojarski moved to Ottawa from Poland 20 years ago. His friends and family have told him that the entire nation is in a state of mourning.
“They are crying. It’s a catastrophe, like someone died from their family,” he said. “That’s very sad.”
Last night, St. Hyacinth held a memorial mass for all the reposed souls of the deceased. Polish Ambassador Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz attended the service.