The audience sat silent and attentive, facing forward. Even the usual banter of children seemed to be hushed. All eyes were turned to the priest at the front at the altar, and the framed portrait of a happy couple, surrounded by bouquets of flowers.
Residents of Scarborough’s Polish community were mourning the tragic death of Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski, his wife and dozens of Poland’s top government officials.
As solemn worshippers filed out of Our Lady Queen of Poland Roman Catholic Church at the end of the hour and a half mass into the bright sunshine, many were reluctant to comment on the death of the president and how they felt about it.
One parishioner simply said that many things are still left unknown for the people of Poland surrounding the horrific crash, as the magnitude of the loss was huge.
The community had gathered for mass at the Malvern church on the day the couple was put to rest in Poland. Speakers encouraged parishioners to stay strong and continue to pray for Poland, and for Polish people residing in Scarborough.
Every seat in the pews was filled — yet at times, the church was still enough to hear a pin drop.
Throughout the sermon there were many mentions of the Katyn massacre, that saw thousands of Polish prisoners of war executed in 1940. It was the 70th anniversary of this event that Katczynski and 95 others were planning to attend when their plane crashed in western Russia as it approached Smolensk airport for landing. There were no survivors.
Outside, two Polish flags fluttered at half mast from the large cross in front of the church. The foot of the cross was adorned with candles as an ongoing vigil for the fallen president and the many officials killed on April 10.[iframe: src=”http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=108169640912917082889.000484e6dcd742f052604&ll=50.289339,-25.664062&spn=79.093341,149.414063&z=2&output=embed” width=”550″ height=”350″ scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″]