CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 September 2018

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United States bishops mark 10th anniversary of Nine/Eleven 2001

 

WASHINGTON (CWNews.com): The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched The Catholic Church Remembers Website on August 12 to mark the 10th anniversary of Nine/Eleven 2001.

The Website highlights the firsthand experiences of pain and hope from the disaster.

Available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/september-11/, the site includes six video vignettes, including recollections of Edward Cardinal Egan, the then-archbishop of New York, who became involved in the tragedy moments after it happened, when the mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, asked him to head for St. Vincent’s Hospital.

This was the beginning of the soul-searing days tending to the sick on stretchers and administering the sacrament of the sick to bodies pulled from the smouldering rubble where the Twin Towers fell.

Cardinal Egan also speaks movingly of Ground Zero, which he dubs Ground Hero, as well as the funeral Masses that followed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The Website also presents reflections of the many priests who served at Ground Zero.

“If I had to sum up Nine/Eleven, I would say it was a time in which people taught this nation and the world how to be strong and how to be willing to sacrifice themselves for others,” the cardinal says in one video. “It was a terrible tragedy, it was a crime, but it was a magnificent manifestation of courage and willingness to sacrifice self.”

He describes finding closure at Ground Zero with Pope Benedict XVI in April 2008, as the pope met with victims’ families, lit a candle and prayed.

“There was so much goodness there that the evil was, I think, not only conquered, it was smothered,” Cardinal Egan says.

The website also includes Father Donald Rutherford, a two-star general, who is now head chaplain in the United States military forces. He was based at the Pentagon, which was hit by a plane on that fateful day.

He describes the pre-Nine/Eleven 2001 days in this way. “It was kind of a carefree world where you never had been attacked before. I think now it says that we’re all vulnerable... We look at the young soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that we work with everyday… they are a faithful people. We saw their faith grow that day.”

A woman Muslim chaplain from the Army Reserves, Shareda Hosein, was both applauded for her military service and scorned for her Muslim dress immediately after the attack. “I feel the resiliency of my faith as the biggest strength in helping build bridges of understanding with my fellow Americans,” she comments.

“I have persevered with patience, a loving kindness, non-judgment and taken a stand to live in a pluralistic America that has liberty and justice for all, no matter what race, gender, religion or personal affiliation,” she testifies.

Beverly and Thomas Burnett said that they saw their son, Thomas, and others, drafted unknowingly, as the first citizen-soldiers in the war on terrorism.

“Little more than one hour into the war, America won its first battle against terrorism,” the couple says. They describe their son speaking via cell phone to his wife about a plan to take back a hijacked plane and his last words were, “We’re going to do something.”

Young Burnett and others died over the skies of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, but brought down a plane they judged was headed for the nation’s capital.

New York City firefighter, Kenneth Zaveckas, who lost 343 workmates—24 of them close friends—when the Twin Towers imploded, asks why he was allowed to live. He was on loan from Manhattan to a unit in Brooklyn, the only borough unit ordered to stay and protect another suspected target, the Hasidic community.

“I still try to figure out what God was thinking and why I deserved to be spared twice that day,” he reflects.

Father James Martin, culture editor of America magazine, says, “In this hell I found grace. I thought what is God like? God is like the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save someone. That’s how much God loves us. And I saw this love expressed in the great charity of all the rescue workers who gathered at the American Golgotha.”

Monsignor Anthony Sherman held funerals for those lost in the inferno. “Nine/Eleven led us all into the very depths of the mysteries of human suffering, death and resurrection. We discovered that we cannot obtain nor find all the answers to the atrocities we experienced. Yet, with God’s grace, we also experienced the height of human sacrifice and the ability of our brothers and sisters to manifest heroic love.”

Franciscan Father Joseph Bayne, chaplain to the New York Erie County Emergency Services, reflects, “I did not see the devil’s face at Ground Zero. I saw the face of God in the people working, caring, sweating, crying, rescuing, recovering and being very spiritual in their very humanness.”

Father Paul Wierichs, a former chaplain to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, adds, “People came together in unity that day. We can all remember where we were on Nine/Eleven, because we were all together.”

‘Nine/Eleven led us all into the very depths of the mysteries of human suffering, death and resurrection. We discovered that we cannot obtain nor find all the answers to the atrocities we experienced. Yet, with God’s grace, we also experienced the height of human sacrifice and the ability of our brothers and sisters to manifest heroic love’