Where were you on 9 11 2001? Better: Where were they?

It was just after 10:46:40 PM on the evening of September 11, 2001, in the chapel of the major seminary of the diocese of Wagga Wagga, Australia (14 hours ahead of us), during a Holy Hour (I taught Scripture and languages in that seminary) that one of the seminarians ran into the chapel and – out loud – said that I had to come and look at the television. I ignored him.

A few minutes later another seminarian came in to fetch me saying it was really important. America was being attacked. There are planes… I went. He ran down the long hallway the length of the seminary. I ran as best I could. Now I was worried.

I looked at the television screen and made the sign of the cross. I still tear up and get angry all at the same time.

As I listen to the names of those who died on September 11, 2001 during those terrible attacks, what comes to mind now as well is a scene I saw some hundreds of times play out in Lourdes, France, when I was (helping) to lead the usual afternoon Eucharistic Procession from inside the underground Basilica of Saint Pius X. When the procession came down the huge ramps into the Basilica proper, coming up to the main Altar, I couldn’t help but think that this is how things will look when the little flock on this earth make their way to the gates of heaven. How’s that?

As the wheelchairs and hospital beds on wheels were rolled in, followed by those who hobble along and walk, just as they were, all of broken humanity coming before the Divine Son of the Living God, I then imagined that, as they came in through the gates, they all got up from their wheelchairs and hospital beds, all beginning to leap for joy in their humble thanksgiving and reverence before Jesus, our Messiah, Our Lord and God.

May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

But, again… where were you?


Filed under Terrorism

5 responses to “Where were you on 9 11 2001? Better: Where were they?

  1. pelerin

    I remember the day well. I had just done a little shopping and came home to find my husband glued to the television with a shocked look on his face. He had thought at first that he was watching a film but had only just realised that what he was seeing was for real. We watched together in silence as the tragedy unfolded.

  2. sanfelipe007

    I was in a Catholic school kitchen, preparing lunch for more than 300 students. The print shop worker rushed in to tell me the unfolding news. I was on a second-by-second schedule that covered the more than twelve food items that needed monitoring, so I had no time to stop what I was doing, much less leave the area to watch the news. IIt would be more than six hours before I could tune in. I don’t remember the menu, but I remember where I was.

  3. Cathy

    I was coming out of an aisle in a fork lift. One of my co-workers came in and told us we were being attacked. I remember the towers collapsing and the plea for people to donate blood. All I could think is that there would be very few survivors.

  4. Aussie Mum

    I was in the Wagga Wagga Diocese too, living at the time in its new parish on the outskirts of Albury: the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Thurgoona (now living nearby in Holy Spirit Parish, Lavington). The busyness occasioned by Father Fox’s two-day visit to Thurgoona and Lavington was over and life had gone back to normal. Margaret Grace, the lady who at the time distributed the Immaculate Heart Messenger for Father in Australia, had stayed at my home and Father Fox with Father O’Connell (now deceased) at Holy Spirit Parish Lavington before they travelled on to Wagga. By the evening of September 11th Margaret was on her way back to Queensland and Father Fox was in the air between Australia and Syria. My children were asleep and I was about to turn off the television when the shocking news flashed onto the screen. I shall never forget it. It seemed impossible that the US was under attack – and that civilians were the target – but there it was, pictures showing the horrible reality.
    Our world is broken. It has been since the first sin was committed at the dawn of human history but the movement of history seems now to be accelerating, as if the battle between The Woman and the Serpent of Genesis 3:15 is coming to a head.
    I like what you saw in your mind’s eye Father: “all of broken humanity coming before the Divine Son of the Living God … in their humble thanksgiving and reverence before Jesus, our Messiah, Our Lord and God.” Moreover, in the 19 years since 9/11, the health and mobility I once had has collapsed and so the image of those in “wheelchairs and hospital beds, all beginning to leap for joy” I found both moving and comforting. Thank you.
    Please include Father Patrick O’Connell (Lavington) and Monsignor William Fulton (Albury) when you pray for the souls of Father Robert J Fox and all the faithful departed.

  5. Joisy Goil

    I was preparing for our weekly rosary club meeting at my house. One of the members called and said, “I know you are busy right now, but turn on the TV.” Her words concerned me and I did as she asked. I watched with the phone to my ear and at first we both thought that surely it was a terrible accident. Then, the second plane approached and crashed into the second tower. We both instantly knew this was no accident and we broke into tears. After a few moments she asked ‘what should we do about the meeting? Do you want to cancel?” I said, “No, we need to meet more than ever!”
    Everyone showed up – we didn’t make a single rosary but we prayed as we sat in the living room watched the inferno and listened to the thumps that the news caster explained was bodies of people who jumped from the building hitting the ground.
    That sound still haunts me whenever I think about that day.
    We were in the middle of the agony in the garden when the first tower fell. After we calmed down a little we resumed praying. it was a scary day, but our prayers helped us to stay (relatively) calm. It is a day none of us will ever forget.

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