London's Polish community mourns parish priest

Mgr Bronislaw Gostomski.  Photo: J Lopuszinski

Mgr Bronislaw Gostomski. Photo: J Lopuszinski

A sea of flowers is growing outside the Church of St Andrew Bobola in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, in honour of parish priest Mgr Bronislaw Gostomski,  who was one of the 97 victims of Saturday's plane crash which included Polish president  Lech Kaczynski.

Fr Bronek had gone to take part in a Mass to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, because his church holds the main shrine in Britain commemorating the 23,000 Polish officers killed at Katyn by the Soviets.

A popular priest, Fr Bronek arrived in Shepherds Bush in 2003 and was much loved by his parishioners.  "He was a wonderful priest" said Joanna Kaczorowska, who travels from Wembley each week  with her family, to attend Mass. "Fr Bronek was a great support and friend to me when I lost my daughter. He was  very wise and kind. A person you could trust. People flocked to him with their problems. He always had time for each individual person and really put his heart into the parish."

Joanna said Fr Bronek had tremendous energy and had built up many parish groups, including a choir, youth club, AA, and play groups.He also organised many events and excursions. "He was kind and had a wonderful sense of humour," Joanna said. "He was always there after Mass to greet people. I can hardly believe he has gone. It is a terrible shock."

Alicja Giers said: "I have been crying ever since I heard the news.  My husband and I got to know Fr Bronek when we came to him to get married. At that time we only went to church at Christmas and Easter, but since our wedding we have attended Mass every week. He was a very special priest.  When children ran around during Mass and made a bit of noise he wouldn't get annoyed. He would smile and say: 'it is good to see children here. they are the next generation.' He  knew everyone in the parish. He worked very hard to get the church renovated and was looking forward to the 50th anniversary next year. I am going to miss him so much."

A condolence page has been opened on the parish website. Already, more than 200 entries have been made. To read them (English speakers can use Google Translate) see:

A special Mass for those who died in the plane crash will be held at the Polish Church of St Andrew Bobola in Shepherd’s Bush on Thursday 15 April 2010 at 7pm.

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