From the Northeast to the South, the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 was a particularly poignant one for Holy Name Province, which lost Mychal Judge, OFM, the beloved New York City Fire Department chaplain who is thought to be among the first to die in the World Trade Center as he rushed in to help.
For many clergy, ministries and caregivers, Mychal has become the face of those who served selflessly that day, casting aside his own safety to run into the building. His memory lives on vibrantly.
For this year’s anniversary, F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, vice president for the Franciscan Mission at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y., preached the homily during Mass at the University Chapel. Edward was in New York on 9/11 and was among the friars who recovered Mychal’s body after firefighters moved him from the twin towers and took him to the firehouse opposite St. Francis Church.
Around the Province, friars and ministries offered Masses, prayer services and commemorations.
Western New York
The SBU community was especially touched because Mychal was a 1957 graduate. The college community remembered him, along with two other alumni who perished that day.
Francis Di Spigno, OFM, executive director of university ministries, led the campus prayer service at 12:20 p.m. at the campus 9/11 Memorial, near Plassmann Hall.
Black-and-white portraits of the three alumni stood on easels next to the memorial, upon which people placed yellow and green carnations at the close of the service. Attendees were also invited to sign the portraits, which will be given to the familes of the three victims.
In addition to Mychal, the community mourned graduates Rob Peraza, ‘94, ‘96, and Amy O’Doherty, ‘00.
The university also held a Mass and reflection in the chapel. Francis presided and Ed gave the homily.
A special exhibition at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts was prepared and installed by St. Bonaventure student Karen Vester. It featured paintings by the late Cole Young, a former professor of art at SBU; historical information about Ground Zero; and a dedication to the alums who were killed. The Saint of 9/11, a documentary on Mychal’s life, was shown.
Daniel Riley, OFM, director of Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Retreat Center in West Clarksville, N.Y., posted a podcast about Sept. 11 on the ministry’s website.
Upstate New York
In the Capital Region, Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., partnered with the New York State Museum to commemorate with the opening of the “Sometimes Words are Not Enough” exhibit at the Sarazen Student Union and Yates Gallery throughout September.
The artwork, called the “Union Square Scrolls,” was done by New York University students who laid paper scrolls out on the ground in Union Square, which, at the time, was a place of public mourning. As people gathered, they expressed their thoughts and emotions through statements, poems, prayers and drawings. More than 200 scrolls were later collected and stored by the New York State Museum. Originals and reproductions are on display for the first time at Siena.
In 2009, students in Siena’s social work and sociology departments began creating an electronic archive of the scrolls. More than 85 Siena students volunteered hundreds of hours to transcribe inscriptions into a searchable database, which is now part of the exhibit. Once that part of the project is complete, that database will be open to the public.
The college also held a Mass on Sept. 11, led by Siena College president Kevin Mullen, OFM.
The well-attended Mass began at Foy Hall, which featured a 9/11 Memorial Wall that listed the names of the members of the Siena community who died that day. From there, a procession led to the St. Mary of the Angels Chapel for the Mass.
During his homily, Kevin spoke about the slogan that is often used when commemorating the events of 9/11, “Always remember, never forget.” He said that he has often heard this slogan used as a “war cry,” but he urged people to think of it in the context of forgiveness. He encouraged everyone to “draw upon our faith tradition to pray.”
“Forgiveness can never be limited,” he said.
In Sullivan County, the community of Holy Cross Church in Callicoon sponsored a memorial event on Sept. 11 in Callicoon Creek Park. Religious and civic leaders as well as veterans and fire departments took part, according toIgnatius Smith, OFM, pastor of Holy Cross. “On Sunday evening, a memorial Mass was prayed for Fr. Mychal and all those who died on that sad day,” he said. An article titled “Father Judge, trained in Callicoon, was attack’s first victim,” appeared in the Sept. 9 Sullivan County Democrat.
Artist Robert Lenz, OFM, of Holy Name College, Silver Spring, Md., painted an icon of peace, showing Abraham as the father of all believers, with Christians, Muslims and Jews all gathered on his lap in paradise. Joseph Rozansky, OFM, of the Order’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office in Rome, is reproducing the icon for the Assisi gathering this year. “It will eventually make its way around the world as bookmarks in 11 languages, doing its healing work,” said Robert.
On Sept. 11, Erick Lopez, OFM, gave the homily at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md., collaborating withJacek Orzechowski, OFM. Among their thoughts in the anniverary reflection were:
“When I forgive, I do charity not only to the one who hurt me, but also to myself. Forgiveness is a journey to make my own life easier. If you have been hurt, you know that forgiveness does not happen once and for all. You have to work on it every day. Every day you wake up and all the emotions are there: from anger to grief, and everything in between. You have to start all over again, every single day.”
“We have witnessed the failure of policies built on vengeance and retaliation. When we point our finger toward the culpability of another, there are three fingers pointing at ours. We need to look into the mirror and have the courage to recognize the painful truth: as individuals and as a nation, we have hurt others. Our leaders have manipulated our grief and our fear in order to justify war. … Pax Christi USA’s statements are accurate: We have justified torture, war, and the killing of innocent civilians as collateral damage. We have justified the death of thousands of Americans and the stealing of our national wealth abroad, while here at home, we keep the most vulnerable suffering: the children and the elderly.”
“So, when we are vulnerable, where should we look for security? We look for security by building bridges of solidarity rather than building walls of fear, by reaching out to others with compassion and justice, by recognizing that our pain is the same pain that others have felt, by admitting our interdependence with our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world. Our ultimate source of security is God. Everything else is an illusion: money, power, and war are just illusions.”
The friars of St. Anthony Shrine in Boston commemorated 9/11 with a “Weekend of Recovery and Healing,” with hundreds of participants.
A “We Will Remember Them” banner listing the names of all 9/11 victims hung outside the shrine from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Many people stopped to see the banner.
People needing quiet reflection visited the “Chapel of Remembrance,” where hundreds of candles flickered, quiet music played, and “Faces of Courage,” an original oil painting by Marion McGrath, depicting Mychal Judge being carried away from the World Trade Center, was displayed.
Several times throughout the weekend, the movie The Saint of 9/11, released in 2006, was shown.
On the morning of Sept. 9, Emeric Meier, OFM, celebrated a special memorial Mass for members of the Boston financial community lost in the attacks on 9/11. “Use the events from 2001 for healing and recovering, not revenge,” he said.
On Sept. 11, J. Patrick Kelly, OFM, new guardian and executive director of the shrine, in association with the shrine’s Fr. Mychal Judge Recovery Center, led a large group in a poignant “Recovery and Healing” prayer service, which included a “how to” segment on meditation. At 4 p.m., he offered a Mass of recovery.
“All of the events of the weekend were very moving,” said Barry Langley, OFM. “We gave out red carnations and people were taping them to the banner on the wall in front of the Shrine and taking pictures. That was something to see.”
“The liturgies were very touching and well prepared. Our music was wonderful. I noticed more than a few tears,” said Ronald Stark, OFM.
“I spoke with a Boston firefighter who told me he was sent to New York City immediately after the events of 9/11 and stayed there for three months. His story was a sad one,” said Daniel Murray, OFM.
“Seeing all of the people coming in and out of the Shrine during the course of the weekend was beautiful,” said John Maganzini, OFM. “The remembrance rituals here have been very meaningful. So many people stop to read the names, to pray, to come into the first floor chapel to pray.”
St. Bonaventure Parish in Paterson, N.J., where Daniel Grigassy, OFM, is the pastor, along with the Franciscan Sisters, Secular Franciscans and Knights of Columbus of Council #240, sponsored a memorial prayer service at 1 p.m. on Sept. 11, at the nearby grave of Mychal Judge in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. David Schlatter, OFM, of Holy Name College, Silver Spring, provided one of the Bells of Remembrance. On the evening of Sept. 11, Dan spoke about Mychal Judge at the candlelight memorial service sponsored by the Borough of Oradell N.J.
The Paterson police escorted a procession of cars after the 11:30 a.m. Mass to the cemetery, where an honor guard presented the flag for salute and the singing of the National Anthem.
Further south, Patrick Tuttle, OFM, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Greenville, S.C., offered St. Francis’ prayer for peace at a Furman University vigil for interfaith clergy, including Christian denominations, a Buddhist priest, two Muslims, a rabbi and a Sikh. Each offered words from their sacred books or a prayer for peace. Patrick brought a large picture of Mychal Judge to display.
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, recently published the book Life is Too Short: Stories of Transformation and Renewal After 9/11. Jocelyn Thomas contributed research to this report.