Local Priest among Victims of Polish Plane Crash

Father Gostomski was killed alongside President

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Father Bronislaw Gostomski receiving the Hammersmith Soceity Award in May 2008

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West London's Polish community have been filling churches to mourn the victims of Saturday's Russian plane which included a much loved local parish priest, Rev Canon Bronislaw Gostomski of St Andrew Bobola Church in Leysfield Road, Shepherds Bush.

Father Gostomski was among 96 people who died in the tragedy, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, and many of the country's top statesmen and officials.

Father Gostomski was the president's personal chaplain and had served at the W12 church for eight years. His colleague, Father Marek Reczek, told the BBC: "It is a very difficult time for our parishioners. Many of them have been coming into the church to pray. They have been crying,"he said. In a BBC report, some parishoners broke down as they paid tribute to the popular priest.

Today the church's website is inviting all parishioners and friends of Father Gostomski to attend a Prayer Vigil with masses taking place throughout the day.

People are also invited join prayers from Monday until Thursday April 15, when a funeral mass will take place at 7pm.

West London Poles also paid their respects at Ealing's Polish Roman Catholic Church and at the Polish Cultural Institute in Hammersmith's King Street, where they have been laying flowers and signing a book of condolence.

The Polish delegation, who died when the plane crashed in thick fog as it approached Smolensk, had been on their way to a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre of thousands of Poles by Soviet forces during World War II.

Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative Councillors issued the following statement: "The terrible news about the plane crash in Russia which has taken the lives of the Polish President and senior Polish military leaders has also claimed the life of a popular and inspiring local priest. Rev Canon Bronislaw Gostomski was a good man whose simple Christian decency was an example to us all and he was the focus for many in the London Polish community.

"St Andrew Bobola's church in Leysfield Road, where he served, is one of the busiest churches in London. His tragic and unexpected death is a great loss to all of us in Hammersmith. We offer our sincere condolences to his congregation."

Dirk Hazell, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for neighbouring Chelsea and Fulham also expressed his sadness over Gostomski's death: "In living memory, Poland has had to endure vastly more than its fair share of tragedy. This included the appalling Katyn massacre which Poland's leaders were today flying to Smolensk to commemorate.

"It is much more than sad that Poland has today lost so many of its leaders in various walks of life."

The Polish Church in Shepherd's Bush won a prestigious Hammersmith Society award two years ago after its restored exterior was deemed to have made “a significant contribution to the local area”.

Father Bronislaw Gostomski received the award at a prize-giving ceremony, together with the Chairman of the church council, Artur Lozinski.

April 11, 2010