WASHINGTON, DC – The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, (AMS), has received an unexpected Christmas gift: a check for $18,800 donated in honor of 15 U.S. Marines and a Sailor who died in a plane crash last year in Mississippi.
The AMS received the check last week from 206 Tours of Hauppauge, NY, a Catholic tour company that specializes in pilgrimages to the Holy Land and other sacred destinations. The company sent the check on behalf of Father Przemyslaw J. Nowak, who serves as a spiritual director on some of the company’s pilgrimages.
In a Dec. 10 letter to His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, 206 Tours President Milanka Lachman explained that the donation was raised from the proceeds of an upcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome. The pilgrimage will take place from Dec. 26, 2018 to Jan. 7, 2019. It will be led by Father Nowak, a native of Poland and a priest of Paterson, NJ.
The letter included a note from Father Nowak, asking that the donation be put toward the seminary formation of future priests and military chaplains. The letter noted that on the priest’s website at www.pilgrimages.com/frnowak, Father Nowak said of the 16 servicemen killed in last year’s crash, “We are grateful for their service and pray for them and their families.”
In an email to the AMS, Father Nowak explained: “When I read about 16 U.S. servicemen killed in the plane crash in Mississippi, I started to pray for their souls and their families! I had a sincere desire to do something to honor them and the ultimate sacrifices of their lives. I thought about raising funds from a pilgrimage with 206 Tours. I asked Ms. Lachman, and we got permission from AMS. It is a blessing that we can donate this amount towards the formation of seminarians willing to be future chaplains in the U.S. Military, who will serve servicemen and women and their families. Thank God and the Blessed Mother that we can help AMS.”
Right after the July 10, 2017 crash of the KC-130T transport plane near the town of Itta Bena, MS, Archbishop Broglio expressed “heartfelt condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this terrible accident.” This week, after receiving the gift in their honor, Archbishop Broglio expressed his gratitude to 206 Tours and Father Nowak.
Archbishop Broglio said:
“I am deeply grateful to Father Nowak and 206 Tours for their generosity which will help the AMS provide priests for those who need them in circumstances such as disasters, but also in the more every-day situations. May Almighty God bless all of the pilgrims as they walk in the footsteps of our Lord.”
According to a Marine Corps investigation into the crash, the transport plane was on a cross-country flight from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina to Naval Air Facility El Centro in southern California when a corroded propeller blade broke loose in mid-flight, shooting from the left wing into the fuselage, prompting a chain reaction in which a propeller on the right wing snapped and cut through the aircraft, causing the plane to disintegrate.