A photo of Poland's late president Lech Kaczynski was prominently displayed during Sunday mass at Our Lady of the Bright Mount Catholic Church. Members of the Polish community filled the pews, uniting to share their sadness over the plane crash that killed the president, his wife and more than 90 others.
"I couldn't believe it. I cannot understand why so important person and people, the elite of the crème de la crème were together in one airplane," said parishioner Barbara Sokolowska. People attending the service say Kaczynski was a popular president.
"He was really good and he knew what to bring to our country," said another parishioner Gregory Luczak. "We all supported him and he always made the right decisions, we thought. So, it's really sad that he's gone," said parishioner Kinga Brynda.
The fact that the tragedy happened as the leaders were traveling to the site where 22,000 Polish officers were massacred by the Soviet Secret Police 70 years ago deepens the pain.
"The fact that it happened on the anniversary of another Polish tragedy just made it all the more poignant for all of us I think," said parishioner Regina Skwaruzynska. "But Poland is a very strong nation and, you know, we have to go on."
The timing reminds the polish community of another sad anniversary. Pope John Paul II died on April 2 five years ago.
After the Sunday service, dozens of people lined up to sign a condolence book in memory of the president and the other victims.
"People have a great hope. I think that this sacrifice will be like a new beginning for us," said Mark Ciesielski, priest of Our Lady of the Bright Mount Catholic Church.
The community is reaching out to comfort friends and family in Poland.