Professor Fr Ryszard Rumianek, Rector of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, was among those on board the presidential plane that crashed near Smolensk in Western Russia last Saturday.
The 96 passengers and crew who died on the 20-year-old, Soviet-designed Tupolev plane were en route to a ceremony to honour the 20,000 Polish soldiers killed by Soviet troops in the Katyn forest during World War II 70 years ago. Smolensk is not far from Katyn.
Poland's President Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria, numerous leaders of the government, the military service and several prominent religious leaders were killed in the crash which occurred while the plane attempted to land during heavy fog
Last October, the 67-year-old Rumianek was awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for outstanding achievements in scientific and educational activities in pastoral work.
He was ordained in 1972 by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński shortly after graduating from the Metropolitan Seminary in Warsaw. After studiying at the Biblical Papal Institute in Rome and at the Gregorian University in Rome from 1974 to 1979, he became a member of the Episcopal Council of the Archdiocese of Warsaw and a plenipotentiary of the diocesan property.
Although established as a university in 1999, the Wyszyński University traces its origins to the Warsaw Theological Academy, created by Polish communist government after it closed the theology departments at the University of Warsaw and Jagiellonian University. The academy did not receive full acceptance by the Polish church until the collapse of communism in 1989 when state control over the institution lapsed.
Today, the university has seven faculties and 24 fields of study. It employs 672 academics and enrols 18,000 students.
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