Members of Halifax’s Polish community gathered at St. Faustina Kowalska Polish Mission yesterday to mourn the tragic deaths of a number of Poland’s top elected officials.
Approximately 100 people filled the pews at St. Faustina’s for Polish-language mass yesterday. Rev. Jan Grotkowski urged his congregation to pray for Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the 95 other political, military and religious leaders who perished in a plane crash on Saturday.
Grotkowski said the Polish community is still in a state of shock from the news.
“It is a very sad time for us,” said Grotkowski, who came to Canada in 2007. “We are here to pray to the Lord for the peace and eternal happiness for their souls …What we can do for them? Just pray.”
Kaczynski was leading a delegation to Smolensk, Russia, where he and other leading Polish figures were to attend a memorial for 22,000 Polish officers slain by Soviet secret police in 1940.
The investigation into the cause of crash is still ongoing.
Urszula Rudz, president of the congregation at St. Faustina, spoke with her mother-in-law in Poland after the crash. She said it was an even bigger shock, considering what the delegation was going to commemorate.
“They are shocked,” said Rudz.
“These people were going to Katyn where 70 years ago big people died there. Now again, big people, the top of the government died in the same place. People are shocked, sad.”
Jan Skora, who came to Canada from Poland in 1984, said Saturday’s crash was “devastating” to the Polish community. But he said he’s also hopeful it will bring that community together.
“It will have some affect on us emotionally and will stay for awhile” he said. “But I think this brings us together again to make sure that we’ll have some second-thinking about what happened in the past and what’s going on right now. It’s terrible right now.”