Polish American Journal
Buffalo, New York
“Father Majka the Airport Priest”
~ On a Wing and a Prayer ~
Text & Photo: Richard Poremski
Caption: A Shepard Minding His Airport Flocks. Reverend Cannon Phillip S. Majka is depicted on a concourse at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Dulles, Virginia 26 miles west of downtown Washington D.C. The airport’s interfaith chapel is the active site of Father Majka’s ongoing ministry after his official retirement from the priesthood.
DULLES, VIRGINIA – So if you find yourself at Dulles International Airport feeling stressed and frazzled before your departure flight. And mainly it’s because of the TSA security check point procedures that entail very long snaking queues, various document presentations, partial disrobing, shoe shedding, full body scanning, bag searching, questioning, etc. And after suffering through all this trauma do you long to discover an island of tranquility among all the flotsam and jetsam being churned up by the heaving sea of humanity around you before being jammed into an airplane and taking off into the wild blue yonder?
Well if you are on Concourse A you are in luck – just proceed directly to Gate 32. It’s the prime location of the airport’s inviting interfaith chapel staffed by Roman Catholic priest Reverend Cannon Phillip S. Majka. This has been his ongoing ministry since 2006. Besides all the weary travelers, Father Majka also ministers to the airport’s pilots, cabin crews, and ground support personnel as they continuously seek to balance their hectic work – and its demanding schedules – with their personal and family lives. Being constantly in service to everyone, it’s as though Father Majka is propelled by at least a few drops of high octane aviation fuel mixed into his bloodstream.
Father Majka was ordained in New Britain, Connecticut 54 years ago and celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 2015. He is a member of – and the chaplain to – many of the Polish American groups and clubs in the greater Washington, D.C. area, not to mention being Vice President of the National Conference of Catholic Airport Chaplains since 2010. Many much-deserved awards, honors and medals have flown his way from various Polonia organizations and the universal Roman Catholic Church, both here and abroad, and very proudly from Poland. Diplomatically, in 1999 he was awarded the Knights Cross, of the Order of Merit, of the Republic of Poland.
For those seeking peace and tranquilly of the interfaith chapel is indeed a real refuge; it’s the polar opposite of a busy airport environment. It is well appointed with pews, chairs, and with an impressive large concave dome radiating a heavenly soft light over the altar where mass is celebrated. One section of the floor is covered with colorful prayer rugs, and there is an arrow-sign pointing in the direction of Mecca for Muslim faithful to properly direct their prayers. There is also consideration for those of the Jewish faith, and additionally there is a large and diverse collection of religious books, tracts, pamphlets, and other related reading materials. The resulting chapel is a perfect safe environment with something for everyone, even if its just to sit quietly to think or meditate.
But the chapel, like any other chapel, is in and of itself is an inert sacred space. But when you factor in an active multiplier of ecclesiastical force – exactly like Father Majka – it is then transformed into a very sacred place.
So now at 81-years-young, with his feet on the ground and with his head in the clouds, the Reverend Canon Philip S. Majka metaphorically continues to fly in a divine holding pattern in the airspace immediately above the Washington Dulles International Airport Interfaith Chapel – much to the benefit of us all.
Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau
February 10, 2020