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Two Bishops and Four Priests Also Killed in Tragic Polish Plane Crash

By Deacon Keith Fournier
April 12th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The loss of two Bishops and four priests only adds to the great loss suffered by the Polish people.  Let us make the words of St. Faustyna our own: "I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbors. All my neighbors' sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart...." Let us do the same.

SMOLENSK, Poland (Catholic Online) - On Saturday, April 9, 2010, tragedy struck the Polish people. Their beloved President Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria, and numerous leaders of the Government, the military service and the leadership of the Church were killed in a tragic plane crash. It occurred over Smolensk, Russia, while the plane attempted to land during heavy fog.

Smolensk is not far from Katyn, the site where 20,000 Polish officers were massacred by troops of the former Soviet Union during World War II. In a twist of irony, the passengers were en route to commemorate the 70th anniversary of that tragic event. Russian and Polish authorities were gathering to mourn the loss, remember the dead and pledge their solidarity to one another for the future.

The crash occurred on the weekend of the Second Sunday of Easter. The Sunday when, since the year 2000, the Universal Catholic Church commemorated the message given by the Lord to a Polish Saint, Sister Faustina Kowalska. The Lord told St. Faustina: "Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy."

She wrote in her diary "I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbors. All my neighbors' sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart in such a way that it even physically destroys me. I would like all their sorrows to fall upon me, in order to relieve my neighbor."

Included among those who died were three Christian leaders, Army chaplain and Bishop Tadeusz Plozki, Orthodox Archbishop Miron Chodakowski and Evangelical military pastor Adam Pilsch. Pope Benedict called the faithful throughout the world to prayer and solidarity with the Polish people during their time of loss. In his message to the Polish Parliament he spoke of his "profound sorrow" and entrusted the dead to the "goodness of our merciful God."

The Catholic Bishop killed in the crash was Tadeusz Ploski of the Military ordinariate. He was 53 years old. Bishop Ploski was born in 1956 in Lidzbark Warminski in the northeast of Poland. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Warmia in 1982. He studied Canon Law at the Catholic University of Lublin and later obtained a Doctorate.

As a priest he served the Polish Bishops as a Canon lawyer. He became the editor of the Diocesan newspaper and Chaplain to the College of Education and the Academy of Agriculture and Technology in Olsztyn. In 1992 he was assigned to minister to the faithful in the Polish military. Even in the military he served as a correspondent for Vatican Radio and Catholic News Sources.

Fr. Ploski published 150 articles about Canon Law. He was a highly regarded expert on pastoral care and law in the military services. He was consecrated a Bishop by the Venerable Pope John Paul II for the Military Ordinariate.

He was not the only member of the clergy killed in the horrible crash. Orthodox Archbishop Miron Chodakowski, the Orthodox chaplain to the Polish military Brigadier General and Bishop of Hajnówka was also killed. In addition, four priests, Father Jan Osiński, field chaplain; Father Bronisaw Gostomski, Father Jósef Joniec, Father Zdzisaw Król and Father Andrzej Kwaśnik,  all lost their lives.

Archbishop Chodakowski was 52 years old. He was born in 1957 in Bialystok. In 1978 he was tonsured and ordained a deacon. In 1979 he was ordained a priest and a hieromonk. He served as the governor of the monastery church. St. Humphrey the Great in Jableczna.

He became Rector of the Orthodox Theological Seminary. In 1984 he was appointed pastor of the parish church of Annunciation of Our Lady in Supraśl. In 1990, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and was governor of the monastery in Supraśl.

In 1998 he was consecrated as a Bishop of the  Hajnówka diocese. Also in 1998, the Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski appointed bishop Miron as Brigadier General and Orthodox Ordinary of Polish Army. In 2003 he earned a doctorate in theology and in 2008 Bishop Miron was raised to the rank of archbishop.

The loss of two Bishops and four priests only adds to the great loss suffered by the Polish people. We invite our readers around the globe to remember the dead and pray for the Polish people during their time of great loss. Let us make the words of St. Faustyna our own: "I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbors. All my neighbors' sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart...." Let us do the same.

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