Never Forget. That’s what we said after the islamic terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, but many barely remember anymore, to our great disgrace. That was the second time the Twin Towers in Manhattan were attacked, but it seems the world was eager to forget the first World Trade Center bombing, which happened on February 26, 1993 – twenty-four years ago this Sunday.

St. Peter’s Church is near the World Trade Center; here is what they have to say about that day:

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.

The person credited as being the mastermind behind this evil act of islamic jihad, the so called “blind sheikh”, Omar Abdel-Rahman, died this past Saturday in prison, but he was treated to a grand funeral that was attended by thousands of admirers in Egypt:

He was convicted in the World Trade Center bombing—as well as plotting a wider “war of urban terrorism”—in 1995. His death was met with statements of mourning from al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, his hometown was filled with chants of “we will defend you with blood and soul, Islam” for his funeral. “If he were a bad man, people from all over the country wouldn’t have came to attend his funeral,” said a lawyer who traveled more than 100 miles to be there.     MORE

Here  is some more information about the attack, via History.com:

In September 1992 explosives expert Ramzi Ahmed Yousef arrived in New York City on a flight from Pakistan and began planning an attack on the World Trade Center, with the alleged goal of toppling the north tower into the south tower. He received help from followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind, Egyptian-born Muslim cleric who spoke in sermons of destroying the “edifices of capitalism.” The plotters rented a storage locker in New Jersey, where they stockpiled urea, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and other ingredients for making bombs. They simultaneously concocted a nitroglycerin trigger at a nearby apartment and scouted out the World Trade Center’s underground floors.

On February 26, 1993, the plotters loaded their homemade bomb, which weighed about 1,200 pounds, into a yellow Ford Econoline van they had rented from a Ryder dealership in New Jersey. Two of them then drove it across the Hudson River into Manhattan, made their way south to the World Trade Center, entered the basement parking garage between the north tower and a hotel, parked in an illegal spot on a ramp, lit four 20-foot fuses, got into a car that had trailed them and sped off.

At 12:17 p.m. the bomb exploded, knocking out the World Trade Center’s sprinklers, generators, elevators, public address system, emergency command center and more than half of the high-voltage lines that fed electricity to the complex. The FBI later called it the “largest by weight and by damage of any improvised explosive device that we’ve seen since the inception of forensic explosive identification.” Six people died, including a pregnant woman. More than 1,000 others were injured, mostly from smoke that snaked its way up the stairwells and elevator shafts. Yet both towers remained standing.

As rescue workers dug for victims, survivors began making their way out by any means possible. A woman in a wheelchair was carried down 66 flights of stairs by two friends. A class of singing kindergartners descended from the 107th floor. A group of engineers stuck in an elevator pried open the doors and then used car keys to cut a hole in the sheetrock walls leading out to a 58th-floor women’s bathroom. Nearly 30 people with medical conditions were taken to the roof and whisked away by police helicopter. By late that night, the buildings had been completely cleared. They would not reopen for nearly a month.

Investigators sifting through the rubble soon came across the vehicle identification number for the rental van, which had been reported stolen the day before the attack. FBI agents then arrested Mohammad Salameh, who had rented the van under his own name, when he returned to the Ryder dealership to ask for his $400 deposit back. Subsequent arrests were made of Ahmad Ajaj, Nidal Ayyad and Mahmoud Abouhalima. In March 1994 a federal jury convicted the four of them for their role in the bombing, and they were each sentenced to life behind bars.

Meanwhile, authorities uncovered a related plot in which followers of Sheikh Abdel Rahman planned to blow up the George Washington Bridge, the United Nations headquarters and other New York City landmarks. In that case, the sheikh and nine co-defendants were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other terrorism-related charges. A third case led to life sentences for Yousef, who was captured in Pakistan in 1995, and the driver of the rental van, who was captured in Jordan that same year. Only one suspect, who fled to Iraq after being questioned and released by the FBI, remains at large.

Heckuva guy, that Rahman, huh? This is who they celebrate, as our own murdered dead are largely forgotten by our country.

This Sunday, please remember: John DiGiovanni, Robert Kirkpatrick, Stephen A. Knapp, William Macko, Wilfredo Mercado, and, Monica Rodriguez Smith and her unborn child. Please remember their families, and remember all who were wounded that day as well. Please pray for an end to islamic terrorism.

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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. 

See also by Zilla at DaTechGuyBlog:

Remembering Saint Scholastica

#NYCatholic: St. Peter’s Church

 

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

Saint Scholastica was born in Italy in the year 480 A.D., and she was the twin sister of Saint Benedict of Nursia (AKA The Father of Western  Monasticism).  She was called to serve The Lord at a very young age and her name means “she who has leisure to devote to study”.  Her feast day is February 10, and it is an Obligatory Memorial.

Scholastica is the Patron Saint of nuns may be called upon for intersession:

In 543 A.D., Saint Scholastica died of natural causes. Here is a story about her life and legacy, and something amazing that happened shortly before her passing:

Life
Scholastica was born in 480 in Nursia, Umbria, of wealthy parents and according to Gregory the Great’s Dialogues, was dedicated to God from a young age. She and her brother Benedict were brought up together until the time he left to pursue studies in Rome.

A young Roman woman of Scholastica’s class and time would likely have remained in her father’s house until marriage (likely arranged) or entry into religious life. But wealthy women could inherit property, divorce, and were generally literate. On occasion several young women would live together in a household and form a religious community.

Benedictine tradition holds that Scholastica lived in a convent at Plumbariola about five miles from Monte Cassino and that this was the first “Benedictine” convent. However, it has been suggested that it is more likely that she lived in a hermitage with one or two other religious women in a cluster of houses at the base of Mount Cassino where there is an ancient church named after her. Ruth Clifford Engs notes that since Dialogues indicates that Scholastica was dedicated to God at an early age, perhaps she lived in her father’s house with other religious women until his death and then moved nearer to Benedict.

The most commonly told story about her is that she would, once a year, go and visit her brother at a place near his abbey, and they would spend the day worshiping together and discussing sacred texts and issues.

One day they had supper and continued their conversation. When Benedict indicated it was time for him to leave, perhaps sensing the time of her death was drawing near, Scholastica asked him to stay with her for the evening so they could continue their discussions. Not wishing to break his own Rule, Benedict refused, insisting that he needed to return to his cell. At that point, Scholastica closed her hands in prayer, and after a moment, a wild storm started outside of the guest house in which they were housed. Benedict asked, “What have you done?”, to which she replied, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” Benedict was unable to return to his monastery, and they spent the night in discussion.

According to Gregory’s Dialogues, three days later, from his cell, he saw his sister’s soul leaving the earth and ascending to heaven in the form of a shining white dove. Benedict had her body brought to his monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had prepared for himself.

Legacy
Scholastica is the foundress of the women’s branch of Benedictine Monasticism.

She was selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin: the Austria €50 ‘The Christian Religious Orders’, issued 13 March 2002. On the obverse (heads) side of the coin Scholastica is depicted alongside Benedict.

The Franciscans offer on their website this reflection on Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict:

Scholastica and Benedict gave themselves totally to God and gave top priority to deepening their friendship with him through prayer. They sacrificed some of the opportunities they would have had to be together as brother and sister in order better to fulfill their vocation to the religious life. In coming closer to Christ, however, they found they were also closer to each other. In joining a religious community, they did not forget or forsake their family but rather found more brothers and sisters.

What a remarkable woman she was, and what a beautiful relationship she and her brother had. May we all learn from her example. My humble suggestion for honoring her memory is to get in touch with your siblings if you have any, and make peace with them if you need to. You will be glad that you did!

*******

MJ Stevenson 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 animal companions.