#NYCatholic: St. Peter’s Church

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#NYCatholic: St. Peter's Church

[cap­tion id=”” align=“aligncenter” width=“975”] St. Peter’s Church, New York, NY[/caption]

Please do not be mis­led by the dis­hon­est anti-​Christian media or by urban leg­ends about New York­ers and New York’s Catholics; see for your­self who these peo­ple really are and what they do…

The Roman Catholic Parish of St Peter has a his­tory of nearly a quar­ter of a mil­len­nium in Lower Man­hat­tan and is home to the Shrine of Saint Eliz­a­beth Ann Seton; Mother Seton is our first American-​born Catholic Saint. Saint Peter’s Church is the old­est parish in New York City. This is a true Amer­i­can Roman Catholic Church, that pre-​dates the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, and its com­mu­nity is truly a reflec­tion of what it really means to be New Yorkers.

Here is their Mis­sion:

We are the Roman Catholic parish of St. Peter’s – Our Lady of the Rosary, encom­pass­ing
St. Peter’s Church, Our Lady of the Rosary (the Seton Shrine) and St. Joseph’s Chapel
(The Catholic Memo­r­ial at Ground Zero).

We are the first Catholic parish in New York State (est. 1785) but our legacy in Lower Man­hat­tan pre-​dates the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. The parish has served as a safe haven both in the past for needy immi­grants and more recently for vic­tims and res­cue per­son­nel in the wake of 9/​11, with­out regard to reli­gion. St. Eliz­a­beth Ann Seton and the Ven­er­a­ble Pierre Tou­s­saint, who per­formed many works of char­ity in this parish, inspire us to a tra­di­tion of ser­vice to the res­i­dents, the many peo­ple who work in the area, and the mul­ti­tude of vis­i­tors who come from around the world. We strive to serve our neigh­bor­hood in that spirit, with wel­come and com­pas­sion for all because we are all chil­dren of God.

The Church is located just a street away from The World Trade Cen­ter, which was attacked by islamic ter­ror­ists on Feb­ru­ary 26, 1993, and, again on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001. Via the St. Peter’s web­site, here is their story about what hap­pened on both occasions:

  • “Prior to Sep­tem­ber 11th we were accus­tomed to look at the Twin Tow­ers as the sym­bol of America’s strength and power in the world of trade, com­merce and finance. But as those build­ings turned to dust before our eyes, we came to look to each other to see where our true strength and power lie. Our true strength was in all those acts of com­pas­sion, those deeds of gen­eros­ity and self-​sacrifice that were per­formed that day and in the days, weeks and months afterward.”

    – Fr Kevin Madigan

    WE WILL NEVER FORGET

    The World Trade Cen­ter cast a shadow over the Church of St Peter’s, a street away. The ter­ror­ist attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 pro­foundly affected our parish and with­out a doubt made us stronger and more con­nected. Here is an account of how we opened our home and hearts at our three places of wor­ship and how faith helped to res­ur­rect down­town in New York City after the ter­ror­ist attacks on 911.

    ST PETER’S CHURCH AND 911 TIMELINE

    At 8:45am, the impact of the first plane hit the first World Trade Cen­ter and shook St Peter’s Church with a vio­lence that caused the parish sec­re­tary, Patri­cia Rug­giero, to scream. She ran out­side and took a look at the enor­mous gash sur­rounded by flames and bil­low­ing smoke. Rush­ing back inside she called out to the pas­tor, Rev­erend Kevin Madi­gan, that the plane had hit the build­ing. Fr Madi­gan looked out the win­dow and saw the almost instan­ta­neous response of fire engines and ambu­lances, and he hur­ried out to find out where the wounded were. At 9:03am, Fr Madi­gan was speak­ing with the police when the sec­ond plane crashed into the South Tower. Debris blew every­where from the sec­ond impact; many larger pieces were on fire.
    “I remem­ber see­ing a wheel of the plane fly over my head”, Fr Madi­gan told Amer­i­can Catholic Magazine.

    Fr Madi­gan rushed back to St. Peter’s to make sure the staff got to safety and then returned to the street. He met the Assis­tant Fire Chap­lain and started walk­ing south­bound on Church Street when the South Tower began to col­lapse at 9:59am. Think­ing quickly, Fr Madi­gan led the assis­tant chap­lain down into the nearby sub­way sta­tion where they took tem­po­rary shel­ter with tran­sit police offi­cers and emerged safely after some of the dust had settled.

    When Fr Madi­gan returned to St Peter’s, he found out the land­ing gear of one of the air­planes had pierced the roof.

    STAG­ING GROUND FOR 911 RES­CUE AND RECOVERY

    Roman Catholics were the most rep­re­sented faith group of those lost in the attacks. The parish can’t be cer­tain of all the mem­bers of the parish who were lost, since many don’t reg­is­ter but we do know that a lec­tor at St Peter’s and a parish­ioner at the mis­sion of St Joseph’s Chapel were killed on that day. After 911 far fewer were com­ing to week­day morn­ing and lunch hour Masses because the roughly 50,000 work­ers in the tow­ers had to work in new locations

    Dur­ing these oper­a­tions, Fr Madi­gan cel­e­brated Mass, heard Con­fes­sion and pro­vided pas­toral care to res­cue work­ers and those allowed to enter the area. The church was open twenty-​four hours a day, seven days a week for the work­ers until the end of Octo­ber 2001 when mar­tial law was lifted and work­ers returned to work downtown.

    The doors of St Peter’s stayed open to America’s heroes, and the church trans­formed into a relief sup­ply sta­tion. “We were the first place they were bring­ing all the emer­gency equip­ment. Every­thing was in dis­ar­ray,” Fr Kevin Madi­gan stated. “Sup­plies were piled six feet high all over the pews, ban­dages, gas masks, boots, hoses and cans of food for the work­ers and the vol­un­teers, many of whom were sleep­ing in the pews on bedrolls.”

    FATHER MYCHAL JUDGE

    Father Mychal Judge OFM, the beloved chap­lain of the New York Fire Depart­ment, was early to the scene of the dis­as­ter, giv­ing abso­lu­tion and prayers for the wounded and dying. Late that morn­ing, he was in the North Tower lobby sur­rounded by res­cue work­ers when the South Tower col­lapsed. The force of the build­ing falling on itself blew cement dust and debris at speeds esti­mated to be 100mph. The impact of the implo­sion was so vio­lent that parts of the com­pro­mised North Tower build­ing fell. Obscured by the cloud of dust, it was only after the inci­dent that the men nearby saw that Fr Judge had been struck down and killed. Fr Kevin M. Smith, another fire chap­lain from Patchogue, NY blessed the body on curb. Even­tu­ally his body was car­ried by two fire­men, an FDNY med­ical tech­ni­cian, a police lieu­tenant and a civil­ian bystander into St. Peter’s and laid in front of the altar. Fr Fuss­ner, a priest at St. Peter’s Church noticed that Fr. Judge’s neck was swollen and appeared to be bro­ken. Rest­ing on the mar­ble, Fr Judge’s body was cov­ered in a white cloth with a fresh stole from sac­risty on top and his chaplain’s badge and hel­met rest­ing on his chest. Fr Fuss­ner added that the fire­men pulled two of the can­dles close to either side of his body and a Fran­cis­can friar later pointed out that the result­ing pose resem­bled à bas-​relief sculp­ture of Christ imme­di­ately behind the body. At around 2pm, two Fran­cis­can fri­ars from Fr Judge’s res­i­dence car­ried his body to a fire sta­tion across from his residence.

    Fr. Mychal gave the fol­low­ing ser­mon at a Mass for New York City Fire­fight­ers at Engine 73, Lad­der 42, Bronx, NY on Sep­tem­ber 10, 2001:

    You do what God has called you to do. You get on that ring, you go out and do the job. No mat­ter how big the call, no mat­ter how small, you have no idea of what God is call­ing you to, but God needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us. God needs us to keep sup­port­ing each other, to be kind to each other, to love each other.
    We love this job, we all do. What a bless­ing it is! It’s a dif­fi­cult, dif­fi­cult job, but God calls you to do it, and indeed, He gives you a love for it so that a dif­fi­cult job will be well done.
    Isn’t God won­der­ful?! Isn’t He good to you, to each one of you, and to me? Turn to God each day — put your faith, your trust, your hope and your life in His hands. He’ll take care of you, and you’ll have a good life. And this fire­house will be a great bless­ing to this neigh­bor­hood and to this city. Amen.

    WORLD TRADE CEN­TER CROSS

    Two days after the 911 attacks, Ground Zero looked and felt like hell on earth. The ground was scorched, the air held the odor of incin­er­ated build­ing mate­r­ial and felt heavy with the weight of thou­sands of departed souls. Long shad­ows of autumn sun and lights erected to illu­mi­nate the wreck­age gave the area an amber glow. Police, fire­men, first respon­ders and many vol­un­teers began to search the rub­ble for a few sur­vivors and scarce remains. Many of the men who flocked to the site to vol­un­teer were expe­ri­enced hands that knew how to cut steel and move rub­ble so the search could con­tinue and the area cleared.

    (Frank Silec­cia found the World Trade Cen­ter Cross)
    A vol­un­teer con­struc­tion worker named Frank Silec­chia dis­cov­ered the cross in a carved out area of the pile in the lower core of Build­ing 6. There he spot­ted a cross made of steel stand­ing upright. Fused to one side of the cross was large piece of melted metal that resem­bled a rum­pled cloth which brought to mind the cross and shroud of res­ur­rected Christ. Frank Silec­chia fell to his knees as did many who came to see it later. Fire­fighter John Picarello described what he saw in a story pub­lished by Chris­t­ian Broad­cast News: “Just the way the sun shone down…it looked like an amphithe­ater with benches.” Believ­ers and non-​believers came and bowed their heads or knelt. Many of them came back again and again over the course of eight months to reflect, wor­ship and hope. Mayor Giu­liani remarked that the cross, “kept a lot of peo­ple going”, espe­cially those directly involved in the recov­ery efforts.
    Ten days after the cross was found, Frank Silec­chia took Fr Brian Jor­dan, OFM, a Fran­cis­can priest, to see what he thought was a rev­e­la­tion: that God had not aban­doned us. Fr Jor­dan saw it as a sign. Some time later the men were con­cerned that in the recon­struc­tion efforts the cross might be taken away to a stor­age facil­ity or destroyed, so Fr Jor­dan con­tacted the mayor’s office. Mayor Rudolph Giu­liani replied quickly that, ‘we will keep that cross as a reminder of God’s love for all of us’.
    Fr Jor­dan then reached out to Fr Madi­gan who agreed to host the cross. In Octo­ber 2006, a group of about 150 work­ers from the site, rel­a­tives of those killed in the attack and onlook­ers watched over as vol­un­teer work­ers labored to move the 6,000-lb steel cross three streets and set it down out­doors on the side of the Church at Bar­clay and Church streets. Peo­ple from all over the world and all faiths came to see the cross. In 2011, the relic, borne of the ter­ri­ble events of 911, was lifted by a crane, loaded onto a truck and taken to its cur­rent loca­tion at the 911 Memo­r­ial Museum.

    TRIB­UTE CROSS

    On August 11, 2011, a new cus­tom cross was installed to stand in the same place on the side of St. Peter’s. The mod­ern sculp­ture com­mis­sioned by the Arch­dio­cese of New York, was made by artist Jon Kraw­czyk. Crafted in Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia, the cross was trans­ported through six­teen states to reach New York. On the jour­ney, many stopped the artist to inquire about the cross and share a moment of reflec­tion over the events of 911. The “Trib­ute Cross”, as it is now called, rep­re­sents the res­ur­rec­tion of the neighborhood.

    ST JOSEPH’S CHAPEL BECAME A FEMA COM­MAND STATION

    On Sep­tem­ber 11, the cloud of dust and ash from the implod­ing World Trade Cen­ter tow­ers also engulfed St Joseph’s Chapel. Dur­ing the week of the dis­as­ter, the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA) des­ig­nated the chapel as a com­mand sta­tion. The Chapel and its fur­nish­ings were a great help to the res­cue effort and even altar cloths were used as tem­po­rary ban­dages. Fol­low­ing the res­cue oper­a­tions, the chapel became a tem­po­rary sanc­tu­ary where con­struc­tion work­ers, police offers and fire­fight­ers could come to eat, email their fam­i­lies, talk with spir­i­tual coun­selors and rest from the phys­i­cally, emo­tion­ally and spir­i­tu­ally exhaust­ing work at Ground Zero. The priests of St. Joseph’s con­tin­ued to cel­e­brate Mass in a gym nearby..

    After open­ing her arms to so many, the chapel inte­rior suf­fered exten­sive dam­age. The pul­pit, pews and chairs, which were moved out­side, were destroyed in a rain­storm. After a degree of nor­malcy resumed in the down­town Bat­tery Park City neigh­bor­hood, the idea for a Catholic Memo­r­ial was brought up in dis­cus­sions about the need for a ren­o­va­tion. The ini­tial thought was to express the jour­ney of grief and heal­ing the parish had taken as a faith com­mu­nity. But as we clar­i­fied our vision through dis­cus­sion and prayer, we deter­mined to cre­ate a memo­r­ial that would respond in a broader way to the event from a Catholic per­spec­tive. The memo­r­ial also affirmed our belief that life is stronger than death and love is stronger than hate.

    Fundrais­ing com­menced and the Mis­sion of St Joseph’s Chapel received the sup­port of Car­di­nal Edward M. Egan and Mayor Rudolph Giu­liani. In a let­ter, Mayor Rudolph Giu­liani wrote, “St Joseph’s Chapel in Bat­tery Park City is cre­at­ing a Catholic Memo­r­ial at Ground Zero to honor those who were lost, and pay trib­ute to those who responded with such hero­ism and brav­ery in the face of mor­tal dan­ger.” (Read full let­ters writ­ten by Car­di­nal Egan, Mayor Giu­liani and Fr Madigan.)

    Fr Madi­gan and a com­mit­tee of parish lead­ers com­mis­sioned art­work to honor the heroes of 911 for “their brav­ery, sac­ri­fice and love.” (Details about Catholic Memo­r­ial art­work.)

    In May 2005, Car­di­nal Edward M. Egan held a cer­e­mony to bless the refur­bished St Joseph’s Chapel. Car­di­nal Egan remarked that, “the memo­r­ial affirms the pres­ence of God in a place that has tested the faith of many.” The com­pleted Catholic Memo­r­ial at Ground Zero hon­ors those who died, those who per­formed heroic and self­less acts on that day, and all of us who sur­vived to bear wit­ness. The memo­r­ial com­pli­ments the 911 National Memo­r­ial and gives vis­i­tors an oppor­tu­nity for prayer and reflec­tion in a quiet sanctuary.


    OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY REACHES OUT TO BRETHREN

    After Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001, Our Lady of the Rosary held a memo­r­ial ser­vice for the sixty-​seven British and twenty-​four Cana­dian cit­i­zens who died in the World Trade Cen­ter attack. The church kept its doors open and, for seven Sun­days, hosted the ser­vices of Trin­ity Epis­co­pal Church. Trin­ity had to shut its doors until they were assured the his­toric build­ing was struc­turally sound. Two months later when Trin­ity held a cer­e­mony at their reopen­ing, they thanked
    Fr Peter Mee­han, the pas­tor of Our Lady of the Rosary and Seton Shrine, for the generosity.

    THE FIRST ATTACK IN 1993

    Feb­ru­ary 26, 1993, a truck loaded with bombs, parked in a pub­lic garage below the North Tower of the World Trade Cen­ter and exploded. Ter­ror­ists set of the pow­er­ful home­made bomb by way of a twenty-​foot fuse. The blast killed six inno­cent civil­ians. The bomb was pow­er­ful enough to cre­ate a 200 by 100 foot hole in the build­ing. Approx­i­mately a thou­sand office work­ers suf­fered smoke inhala­tion injuries. One hun­dred and twenty four of those injured were res­cue per­son­nel. Sev­en­teen kinder­garten­ers were trapped when the elec­tri­cal power line was knocked out and one woman in labor was air­lifted out of the area to a hospital.

    The ter­ror­ists intended for the North Tower to come crash­ing down and top­ple the South Tower. Seven men have been con­victed for their role in the attack but only six have been caught.

    Many have for­got­ten the first truck bomb­ing of the World Trade Cen­ter in the wake of 911. A son of a vic­tim in the attacks, Stephen Knapp Jr., is quoted in the New York Times: “It started on Feb. 26, it played out on 9/​11, and it is still going on now.”

    Our Parish has not for­got­ten. Every Feb­ru­ary, the fam­i­lies and friends of peo­ple who died and those who were injured, hold a memo­r­ial Mass at St. Peter’s Church.


  • This account of what tran­spired on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 and in the after­math of the attacks has been pre­pared by parish vol­un­teers. The research and fact check­ing con­tin­ues and will soon include fur­ther quotes from our clergy.

May God con­tinue to bless St. Peter’s Church, parish, and peo­ple, and may the Good Lord for­ever bless New York, Amer­ica, and you as well.

*******

MJ Steven­son, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla of the Resis­tance at MareZilla​.com. She lives in a wood­land shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her fam­ily and a large pack of guardian com­pan­ion ani­mals — includ­ing Siber­ian Husky Dal­ma­t­ian Lab Pup­pies and their par­ents. Zilla is a proud New Yorker and a parish­ioner of Saint Denis Church in New York’s Hud­son Val­ley.

See also by Zilla at DaTechGuyBlog:

Remem­ber­ing Saint Scholastica

St. Peter’s Church, New York, NY

Please do not be misled by the dishonest anti-Christian media or by urban legends about New Yorkers and New York’s Catholics; see for yourself who these people really are and what they do…

The Roman Catholic Parish of St Peter has a history of nearly a quarter of a millennium in Lower Manhattan and is home to the Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton; Mother Seton is our first American-born Catholic Saint. Saint Peter’s Church is the oldest parish in New York City. This is a true American Roman Catholic Church, that pre-dates the American Revolution, and its community is truly a reflection of what it really means to be New Yorkers.

Here is their Mission:

We are the Roman Catholic parish of St. Peter’s – Our Lady of the Rosary, encompassing
St. Peter’s Church, Our Lady of the Rosary (the Seton Shrine) and St. Joseph’s Chapel
(The Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero).

We are the first Catholic parish in New York State (est. 1785) but our legacy in Lower Manhattan pre-dates the American Revolution. The parish has served as a safe haven both in the past for needy immigrants and more recently for victims and rescue personnel in the wake of 9/11, without regard to religion. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Venerable Pierre Toussaint, who performed many works of charity in this parish, inspire us to a tradition of service to the residents, the many people who work in the area, and the multitude of visitors who come from around the world. We strive to serve our neighborhood in that spirit, with welcome and compassion for all because we are all children of God.

The Church is located just a street away from The World Trade Center, which was attacked by islamic terrorists on February 26, 1993, and, again on September 11, 2001. Via the St. Peter’s website, here is their story about what happened on both occasions:

  • “Prior to September 11th we were accustomed to look at the Twin Towers as the symbol of America’s strength and power in the world of trade, commerce and finance.  But as those buildings turned to dust before our eyes, we came to look to each other to see where our true strength and power lie.  Our true strength was in all those acts of compassion, those deeds of generosity and self-sacrifice that were performed that day and in the days, weeks and months afterward.”    

    – Fr Kevin Madigan

     

    WE WILL NEVER FORGET

    The World Trade Center cast a shadow over the Church of St Peter’s, a street away.  The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 profoundly affected our parish and without a doubt made us stronger and more connected.  Here is an account of how we opened our home and hearts at our three places of worship and how faith helped to resurrect downtown in New York City after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

    ST PETER’S CHURCH AND 9/11 TIMELINE

    At 8:45am, the impact of the first plane hit the first World Trade Center and shook St Peter’s Church with a violence that caused the parish secretary, Patricia Ruggiero, to scream.  She ran outside and took a look at the enormous gash surrounded by flames and billowing smoke. Rushing back inside she called out to the pastor, Reverend Kevin Madigan, that the plane had hit the building.  Fr Madigan looked out the window and saw the almost instantaneous response of fire engines and ambulances, and he hurried out to find out where the wounded were. At 9:03am, Fr Madigan was speaking with the police when the second plane crashed into the South Tower. Debris blew everywhere from the second impact; many larger pieces were on fire.
    “I remember seeing a wheel of the plane fly over my head”, Fr Madigan told American Catholic Magazine.

    Fr Madigan rushed back to St. Peter’s to make sure the staff got to safety and then returned to the street.  He met the Assistant Fire Chaplain and started walking southbound on Church Street when the South Tower began to collapse at 9:59am. Thinking quickly, Fr Madigan led the assistant chaplain down into the nearby subway station where they took temporary shelter with transit police officers and emerged safely after some of the dust had settled.

    When Fr Madigan returned to St Peter’s, he found out the landing gear of one of the airplanes had pierced the roof.

    STAGING GROUND FOR 9/11 RESCUE AND RECOVERY

    Roman Catholics were the most represented faith group of those lost in the attacks.  The parish can’t be certain of all the members of the parish who were lost, since many don’t register but we do know that a lector at St Peter’s and a parishioner at the mission of St Joseph’s Chapel were killed on that day.  After 9/11 far fewer were coming to weekday morning and lunch hour Masses because the roughly 50,000 workers in the towers had to work in new locations

    During these operations, Fr Madigan celebrated Mass, heard Confession and provided pastoral care to rescue workers and those allowed to enter the area.  The church was open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for the workers until the end of October 2001 when martial law was lifted and workers returned to work downtown.

    The doors of St Peter’s stayed open to America’s heroes, and the church transformed into a relief supply station. “We were the first place they were bringing all the emergency equipment. Everything was in disarray,” Fr Kevin Madigan stated. “Supplies were piled six feet high all over the pews, bandages, gas masks, boots, hoses and cans of food for the workers and the volunteers, many of whom were sleeping in the pews on bedrolls.”

    FATHER MYCHAL JUDGE

    Father Mychal Judge OFM, the beloved chaplain of the New York Fire Department, was early to the scene of the disaster, giving absolution and prayers for the wounded and dying.  Late that morning, he was in the North Tower lobby surrounded by rescue workers when the South Tower collapsed.  The force of the building falling on itself blew cement dust and debris at speeds estimated to be 100mph. The impact of the implosion was so violent that parts of the compromised North Tower building fell.  Obscured by the cloud of dust, it was only after the incident that the men nearby saw that Fr Judge had been struck down and killed.  Fr Kevin M. Smith, another fire chaplain from Patchogue, NY blessed the body on curb.  Eventually his body was carried by two firemen, an FDNY medical technician, a police lieutenant and a civilian bystander into St. Peter’s and laid in front of the altar.  Fr Fussner, a priest at St. Peter’s Church noticed that Fr. Judge’s neck was swollen and appeared to be broken.  Resting on the marble, Fr Judge’s body was covered in a white cloth with a fresh stole from sacristy on top and his chaplain’s badge and helmet resting on his chest.  Fr Fussner added that the firemen pulled two of the candles close to either side of his body and a Franciscan friar later pointed out that the resulting pose resembled a bas-relief sculpture of Christ immediately behind the body.  At around 2pm, two Franciscan friars from Fr Judge’s residence carried his body to a fire station across from his residence.

    Fr. Mychal gave the following sermon at a Mass for New York City Firefighters at Engine 73, Ladder 42, Bronx, NY on September 10, 2001:

    You do what God has called you to do. You get on that ring, you go out and do the job. No matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea of what God is calling you to, but God needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us. God needs us to keep supporting each other, to be kind to each other, to love each other.
    We love this job, we all do. What a blessing it is! It’s a difficult, difficult job, but God calls you to do it, and indeed, He gives you a love for it so that a difficult job will be well done.
    Isn’t God wonderful?! Isn’t He good to you, to each one of you, and to me? Turn to God each day — put your faith, your trust, your hope and your life in His hands. He’ll take care of you, and you’ll have a good life. And this firehouse will be a great blessing to this neighborhood and to this city. Amen.

    WORLD TRADE CENTER CROSS

    Two days after the 9-11 attacks, Ground Zero looked and felt like hell on earth.  The ground was scorched, the air held the odor of incinerated building material and felt heavy with the weight of thousands of departed souls.  Long shadows of autumn sun and lights erected to illuminate the wreckage gave the area an amber glow.  Police, firemen, first responders and many volunteers began to search the rubble for a few survivors and scarce remains.  Many of the men who flocked to the site to volunteer were experienced hands that knew how to cut steel and move rubble so the search could continue and the area cleared.

    (Frank Sileccia found the World Trade Center Cross)
    A volunteer construction worker named Frank Silecchia discovered the cross in a carved out area of the pile in the lower core of Building 6.  There he spotted a cross made of steel standing upright.  Fused to one side of the cross was large piece of melted metal that resembled a rumpled cloth which brought to mind the cross and shroud of resurrected Christ.  Frank Silecchia fell to his knees as did many who came to see it later.  Firefighter John Picarello described what he saw in a story published by Christian Broadcast News: “Just the way the sun shone down…it looked like an amphitheater with benches.”  Believers and non-believers came and bowed their heads or knelt.  Many of them came back again and again over the course of eight months to reflect, worship and hope.  Mayor Giuliani remarked that the cross, “kept a lot of people going”, especially those directly involved in the recovery efforts.
    Ten days after the cross was found, Frank Silecchia took Fr Brian Jordan, OFM, a Franciscan priest, to see what he thought was a revelation:  that God had not abandoned us.  Fr Jordan saw it as a sign.  Some time later the men were concerned that in the reconstruction efforts the cross might be taken away to a storage facility or destroyed, so Fr Jordan contacted the mayor’s office.  Mayor Rudolph Giuliani replied quickly that, ‘we will keep that cross as a reminder of God’s love for all of us’.
    Fr Jordan then reached out to Fr Madigan who agreed to host the cross. In October 2006, a group of about 150 workers from the site, relatives of those killed in the attack and onlookers watched over as volunteer workers labored to move the 6,000-lb steel cross three streets and set it down outdoors on the side of the Church at Barclay and Church streets.  People from all over the world and all faiths came to see the cross.  In 2011, the relic, borne of the terrible events of 9-11, was lifted by a crane, loaded onto a truck and taken to its current location at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

    TRIBUTE CROSS

    On August 11, 2011, a new custom cross was installed to stand in the same place on the side of St. Peter’s.  The modern sculpture commissioned by the Archdiocese of New York, was made by artist Jon Krawczyk.  Crafted in Malibu, California, the cross was transported through sixteen states to reach New York.  On the journey, many stopped the artist to inquire about the cross and share a moment of reflection over the events of 9-11.  The “Tribute Cross”, as it is now called, represents the resurrection of the neighborhood.

    ST JOSEPH’S CHAPEL BECAME A FEMA COMMAND STATION

    On September 11, the cloud of dust and ash from the imploding World Trade Center towers also engulfed St Joseph’s Chapel. During the week of the disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated the chapel as a command station.  The Chapel and its furnishings were a great help to the rescue effort and even altar cloths were used as temporary bandages.  Following the rescue operations, the chapel became a temporary sanctuary where construction workers, police offers and firefighters could come to eat, email their families, talk with spiritual counselors and rest from the physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting work at Ground Zero.  The priests of St. Joseph’s continued to celebrate Mass in a gym nearby..

    After opening her arms to so many, the chapel interior suffered extensive damage.  The pulpit, pews and chairs, which were moved outside, were destroyed in a rainstorm.   After a degree of normalcy resumed in the downtown Battery Park City neighborhood, the idea for a Catholic Memorial was brought up in discussions about the need for a renovation. The initial thought was to express the journey of grief and healing the parish had taken as a faith community.  But as we clarified our vision through discussion and prayer, we determined to create a memorial that would respond in a broader way to the event from a Catholic perspective.  The memorial also affirmed our belief that life is stronger than death and love is stronger than hate.

    Fundraising commenced and the Mission of St Joseph’s Chapel received the support of Cardinal Edward M. Egan and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  In a letter, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani wrote, “St Joseph’s Chapel in Battery Park City is creating a Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero to honor those who were lost, and pay tribute to those who responded with such heroism and bravery in the face of mortal danger.”  (Read full letters written by Cardinal Egan, Mayor Giuliani and Fr Madigan.)

    Fr Madigan and a committee of parish leaders commissioned artwork to honor the heroes of 9/11 for “their bravery, sacrifice and love.”  (Details about Catholic Memorial artwork.)

    In May 2005, Cardinal Edward M. Egan held a ceremony to bless the refurbished St Joseph’s Chapel.  Cardinal Egan remarked that, “the memorial affirms the presence of God in a place that has tested the faith of many.”   The completed Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero honors those who died, those who performed heroic and selfless acts on that day, and all of us who survived to bear witness.  The memorial compliments the 9-11 National Memorial and gives visitors an opportunity for prayer and reflection in a quiet sanctuary.


    OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY REACHES OUT TO BRETHREN

    After September 11, 2001, Our Lady of the Rosary held a memorial service for the sixty-seven British and twenty-four Canadian citizens who died in the World Trade Center attack. The church kept its doors open and, for seven Sundays, hosted the services of Trinity Episcopal Church. Trinity had to shut its doors until they were assured the historic building was structurally sound.  Two months later when Trinity held a ceremony at their reopening, they thanked
    Fr Peter Meehan, the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary and Seton Shrine, for the generosity.

    THE FIRST ATTACK IN 1993

    February 26, 1993, a truck loaded with bombs, parked in a public garage below the North Tower of the World Trade Center and exploded.  Terrorists set of the powerful homemade bomb by way of a twenty-foot fuse.  The blast killed six innocent civilians.  The bomb was powerful enough to create a 200 by 100 foot hole in the building.  Approximately a thousand office workers suffered smoke inhalation injuries.  One hundred and twenty four of those injured were rescue personnel.  Seventeen kindergarteners were trapped when the electrical power line was knocked out and one woman in labor was airlifted out of the area to a hospital.

    The terrorists intended for the North Tower to come crashing down and topple the South Tower. Seven men have been convicted for their role in the attack but only six have been caught.

    Many have forgotten the first truck bombing of the World Trade Center in the wake of 9/11.  A son of a victim in the attacks, Stephen Knapp Jr., is quoted in the New York Times:  “It started on Feb. 26, it played out on 9/11, and it is still going on now.”

    Our Parish has not forgotten.  Every February, the families and friends of people who died and those who were injured, hold a memorial Mass at St. Peter’s Church.


  • This account of what transpired on September 11, 2001 and in the aftermath of the attacks has been prepared by parish volunteers.  The research and fact checking continues and will soon include further quotes from our clergy.

May God continue to bless St. Peter’s Church, parish, and people, and may the Good Lord forever bless New York, America, and you as well.

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla of the Resistance at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals – including Siberian Husky Dalmatian Lab Puppies and their parents. Zilla is a proud New Yorker and a parishioner of Saint Denis Church in New York’s Hudson Valley

See also by Zilla at DaTechGuyBlog:

Remembering Saint Scholastica