Local Polish-Americans honor fallen president, first lady

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta


Members of the PRCUA Rogalin Polish dance troupe attend the memorial mass in traditional Polish costumes.

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta


The Rev. Walter Ptak uses the homily to speak to parishioners about the tragedy.
Photo by Sue Suchyta

Photo by Sue Suchyta


Both the American and Polish flags fly at half mast last Sunday outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.

Polish Americans held a memorial mass at 10:30 a.m. last Sunday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in remembrance of Poland President Lech Kaczynski, the first lady and 94 other victims of an April 10 plane crash near Katyn, Russia. The group was traveling to Russia to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s execution of 22,000 Polish military officers. According to the 2000 census, 23 percent of Wyandotte’s population is of Polish ancestry.

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Polish-American members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church joined Poles around the world last Sunday in mourning Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, Maria, and 94 other victims of an April 10 plane crash near Katyn, Russia.

The Rev. Walter Ptak celebrated a memorial Mass last Sunday in remembrance of the victims, who were traveling to mark the 70 anniversary of the Soviet Union’s execution of 22,000 Polish military officers.

“I have been thinking a lot about how fragile our lives are and how we must be rooted firmly in our rich Catholic faith,” he said during a homily in English during the 10 a.m. Mass, which normally is celebrated in the Polish language. The English remarks also were published in the weekly parish bulletin.

Faith is the only way to make sense out of the “ironic tragedy,” Ptak said.

“Life as we know it often changes quickly,” he said. “We are lulled into a false sense of security and say, ‘That could never happen to me.’”

“Those boarding that plane (April 10) began their day like every other day: fully expecting to return home after the commemoration at Katyn, and yet they didn’t.

“If we are not rooted in our Catholic faith, this indeed would be the greatest of all tragedies. Yet our Catholic faith tells us otherwise.

“Where Christ reigns, sin and death have been trampled underfoot. I know that includes the forest of Katyn, made even redder by the blood of those who perished there (April 10).”

Ptak reminded parishioners of the Polish national anthem’s opening lines, which say that “Poland will not perish as long as its people survive.”

“I suggest that in light of this double tragedy at Katyn, the people of Poland, all Polonia and people of faith everywhere affected by this calamity reflect on this line with one minor change,” Ptak said. “Poland has not perished, as long as we believe!”

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