Please welcome new member Joe who is the great nephew of Father Francis Pluta, the commandant of the Balachadi orphanage near Jamangar, India, during World War 2.
Joe gives his own most interesting introduction below
"Father Pluta was a parish priest in the small village of Rovina in the Kresy region of Poland before the war. In 1939, he was arrested by the Soviets for being a Catholic priest and also for being a Polish Army chaplain with the rank of Captain. He was taken to Siberia where he was sentenced to death. He escaped death when the Nazis invaded Russia and the Soviets freed the remaining Polish Army officers. In 1942, his bishop ordered him to accompany a group of approximately 160 Polish orphans to India.
Once in India, an orphanage was built near the small Indian village of Balachadi near Jamangar. An Indian Maharaja, Jam Saheeb, was the driving force behind this orphanage as he made the initial invitation to host a Polish orphanage. This orphanage grew much larger than the original 160 orphans and needed
many highly dedicated people to run it as well as generous financing contributed by many.
After the war, the new Polish government claimed all Polish orphans were wards of the state of Poland and should be returned to Poland. No problem. Father Pluta and an English Army Officer Clarke worked with the Maharaja to have Father Pluta, Officer Clarke and the Maharaja adopt the Polish orphans so they could not be involuntarily returned to Poland. For this, Father Pluta was arrested by the new Polish government as an International Child Kidnapper. These charges were later dropped.
After the war, the Balachadi orphans went to many countries. I see that some of them from Poland and Australia post regularly on your site.
I have read the excellent recently published book, The Second Homeland, by Dr. Bhattacharjee of India. This book is about the Balachardi orphanage. I started communicating with Dr.
Bhattacharjee and she suggested that I locate the surviving Balachadi orphans living in the United States and Canada in hopes that we can have a reunion. Dr. Bhattacharjee and her colleague will attend the reunion and I can think of no finer keynote speaker for the reunion.
There were two main groups from Balachadi who came to the United States. The first group was 31 boys who went to Orchard Lake Seminary near Detroit, Michigan. The second group was 50 girls who went to the Sisters of St. Bernadine in Reading, PA. I have been in contact with both institutions and they are highly supportive of the reunion. Ceil Jensen, Geneologist from Orchard Lake, is seeing if we can hold the union there. Orchard Lake held a reunion for the 31 boys about 4 years ago. Ms. Jensen is researching the names and contact information of the attendees of the last reunion.
Sister Jacinta (Ella Respondowska) of
the Sisters of St. Bernadine was one of the original 50 girls who went there. She has provided my the names and contact information for the surviving girls.
I have located a few of the Balachadi orphans living in the United States who were not part of either of these groups. I hope to locate more survivors living in the United States or Canada. I will contact them to see their interest in a reunion. If we determine to have a reunion, we will explore the feasibility of inviting all surviving Balachadi children throughout the world.
Here is where I need help. I need help locating the Balachadi children living in Canada and the United States. Once I gauge their interest in a reunion, we will see if a reunion is feasible. Once we decide to have a reunion, and we determine the reunion facility is large enough for a larger gathering, I will need help contacting all other Balachadi children
throughout the world to invite them to the reunion.
I see that you have members who are passionate about this subject and are living in the United States or Canada. Anyone who want in on this project is most welcome.
Father Pluta had two lifelong dreams. The first was to have the orphans in the orphanage educated so they could return to Poland after the war and help Poland rebuild. The second was to build a church in honor of Mary. In the early 1950s he helped build Our Lady of Czestochowa church in London, Ontario. He died in 1990 and is buried outside of Toronto.
Please feel free to post this message including my personal contact information.
And a very warm welcome to you also Joe. I hope you get a very successful response from our members.