Throughout the Diocese of Trenton, schools and parishes commemorated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that took the lives of thousands and are still having ripple effects 22 years later among their loved ones.
Several parishes included the historic occasion in their regularly scheduled Masses and prayers. St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford, read the names of all who died during weekend Masses Sept. 9-10. In the parishes of St. Rose, Belmar, Nativity, Fair Haven, and St. Leo the Great Parish, Lincroft, daily Sept. 11 Masses were offered on behalf of the victims of 9/11.
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Whiting, spoke during the Monmouth County September 11 Memorial Ceremony at the Mount Mitchell Scenic Overlook, Atlantic Highlands – remembering not only the nearly 3,000 victims, but also those who rushed to their aid.
“We remember and honor the courageous first responders running up the stairs of the burning buildings … to save others at the expense of their own lives,” he said. “We remember and honor the heroic firefighters, police officers, paramedics and civilian support staff members who have suffered and died from illnesses related to the rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of one of the darkest days in U.S. history.”
St. Mary School, Middletown, had planned a prayer service for students in grades five through eight at the parish’s 9/11 memorial, but uncertain weather moved the commemoration indoors, where students led the student body in prayer over the school P.A. system.
“This hit home at St. Mary School; we lost 30-plus parishioners and 70-plus community members,” said Craig Palmer, principal. “It was a tough time. I worked at the New York Stock Exchange from 1982 to 1991, [and] have not been back since 9/11. I knew people who did not come home that day.”
A prayer service began the school day at Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, in the Marian grotto outside the school, led by school chaplain Father Jason Parzynski. Students assisted with the service, including the National Anthem sung by the Madrigal student choir.
St. Dominic Parish, Brick, planned a 7 p.m. Commemoration Vespers in the parish chapel, featuring the parish’s Schola Cantorum de Beata Maria Virgine, conducted by director of sacred music Colton Martin.
“This is our third year – we wanted to mark the occasion in a special way, and decided to have evening prayer,” Martin explained. “It’s a musical commemoration that coincides with the launch of our choir season after summer break.”
The Rosary was led by the St. Dominic men’s Rosary group at 6:40 p.m. before the sung Vespers service. Limited free copies of the prayer book “By Dawn’s Early Light: Prayers and Meditations for Catholic Military Wives” were also available to those who attend.
“It’s been beautiful to see how people commemorate it every year, and to lift up those who are still grieving,” Martin said.
Smith pointed out that 42 new names of New York firefighters were added to the World Trade Center Memorial Wall, representing their members who died of post-9/11 illnesses – bringing the total to date to 331.
“So, as we remember all the victims of 9/11, may each of us seriously recommit to prayer and works to ensure that violence in all of its ugly manifestations including terrorism be mitigated,” Smith said. “We must never forget 9/11 and be ever vigilant that the perpetrators of violence and terrorism never take a holiday – nor can we.”