Wing and a prayer

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

ACatholic priest who was a per­sonal friend of the late Pope John Paul II is the new chap­lain of Wash­ing­ton Dulles In­ter­na­tional Air­port, where in this un­set­tling age of ter­ror­ist-tar­geted travel more and more faith­ful are kneel­ing down to pray.

“I had a full chapel last Satur­day at the vigil Mass,” the Rev. Philip Ma­jka tells Inside the Belt­way, adding that when he isn’t cel­e­brat­ing the liturgy (the chapel is lo­cated in Ter­mi­nal B, near Gate 30) he is of­ten roam­ing the sweep­ing air­port com­plex.

Clad in his priestly col­lar and sport­ing an of­fi­cial ID badge, “peo­ple of­ten approach me,” the priest notes. “I’m get­ting to know the po­lice, air­port work­ers, and I visit with the trav­el­ers [. . .] wish­ing them a bon voy­age” (and no doubt of­fer­ing up prayers and re­as­sur­ing words in the process).

“And I can go through se­cu­rity with­out tak­ing off my shoes!” Fa­ther Ma­jka boasts. “Maybe that’s go­ing to change, who knows? I have a chal­lenge right now of how to get a bot­tle of wine through [se­cu­rity]. I have to have the Mass wine, you know.”

Like the late pope, Fa­ther Ma­jka, a long­time priest in the Dio­cese of Ar­ling­ton, has Pol­ish roots. He first met then-Car­di­nal Karol Wo­jtyla in 1969 when he was se­lected to be his Wash­ing­ton guide, ac­com­pa­ny­ing the fu­ture pope to the Basil­ica of the Na­tional Shrine of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion and to Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery, and along the cob­ble­stone streets of Old Town Alexan­dria, which re­minded the car­di­nal of his home­town in Poland.

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