Passionist Fr. Paul Wierichs is in NYC for the 9-11 Memorial. Father Paul was FBI chaplain in New York at the time of the attack. He will be part of the FBI Memorial Service where he will offer the following reflection.
We come together today to remember. It is important that we do this because it is all part of being a human being and being in the larger family of humanity.
Most of us carry with us a picture of loved ones. At times we may look at them and it will bring a smile to our face, a good memory.
Sad to say, some people want to forget 9-11 and move on. That can’t be done. We cannot wipe out memories. Memories are important. Look at history.
Each year, at Passover, Jews remember their enslavement in Egypt and the great Exodus led by Moses. That is why the Old Testament is so vital to the continuity and survival of the Jews Christians; too, mark their calendar with such important days of remembrance as Christmas and Easter. Jesus tells us “Do this in remembrance of me”. In the Catholic Church we remember great men and woman that have gone before us. We call them saints.
As a country, we remember our own history. We have a calendar of remembrance. July 4 is the central celebration of American independence and individual freedom. We celebrate Thanksgiving Day and other great days in American history. We build monuments so that we remember great people of our history.
I personally remember that day 9/11. I came in when the New York Office called me thinking I would be there for only a day. I did not go home for three weeks. I remember so many men and women especially our own FBI office, NYPD and FDNY asking for me to hear their confession, give them a blessing and yes “Father please hug me”.
I remember sad tragic pictures of people crying, shaking and asking “why”. I lost my own friends that day. FBI Agent Lenny Hatton, SAC John O’Neil who just retired, Some of my good friends in the FDNY and NYPD who use to come on retreat at my Passionist Retreat House.
We can’t forget all the “little people” who went to work not knowing that it would be their last time seeing their family, waiters, bus boys, secretaries, men and women trying just to live for their families. We must not and cannot forget these people too.
“Americans will want to remember 9-11 for many years to come. What form that remembrance will take will be seen in the years ahead. The fact that this horrendous nightmare has been reduced to the numbers 9-11 means that this date will not be forgotten.” (Samuel Blumenfeld)
- V. Rev. Paul Wierichs, C.P.