On a day when the entire country came together to mourn those lost in terrorist attacks a decade ago, the Fordham University community marked the occasion with full slate of memorials and masses.
While the ceremonies on Sunday, Sept. 11, focused on remembering the 39 Fordham students and alumni who died that day, they likewise emphasized Christian messages of peace, forgiveness and love.
More than 1,500 people gathered at masses at the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses for anniversary remembrances and a traditional Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham.
On what he called the “solemn and somber day for our nation,” Father McShane drew his homily from the Book of Sirach and the Gospel of Matthew, declaring that “living well is the best revenge.”
“God’s first impulse is always to show mercy, and to act with compassion. God is quick to forgive those who forgive others and reach out and love,” he said.
“In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, we are all of us called to live life not with conspicuous consumption, and not to engage in the wrath of shock and awe. Rather we are called to live lives of conspicuous compassion, to give ourselves over to programs of charity, self sacrifice and love. If we live our lives in this way, I assure you that the terrorists of Sept. 11 win nothing.”
At Rose Hill, the University church was filled beyond capacity with students, community and members of the Security Traders Association of New York (STANY), who had attended a memorial luncheon hosted by John Tognino (FCLS ’75), chairman of Fordham’s Board of Trustees.
The luncheon honored some 44 STANY members who were killed, and another 164 who were inducted posthumously into STANY from firms like Cantor Fitzgerald, Keefe Bruyette & Woods and the New York Stock Exchanges. For Arthur Pacheco, a senior managing director for Bear Stearns at the time, it was a time for personal catharsis.
“I hired some of those kids; they were like my own children,” he said. “We may never have closure for what happened, but we all need consolation as we continue to make sense of it.”
Tognino, former executive vice president of global sales and member affairs at NASDAQ, described the chaos of that day and the shutdown of the nation’s trade and financial houses following the attack. He recounted the extraordinary efforts by STANY and the financial communities—some of which lost entire offices of employees—to get back up and running.
“Hundreds of our colleagues were missing,” said Tognino, who was in lower Manhattan on 9/11. “But the tragedy brought out the best in us. There was no shortage of heroes.”
After the mass, a procession of alumni, students, faculty, administrators and community members led by a color guard stretched from one end of the campus to the other. Those wishing to pay respects at Fordham’s 9/11 memorial in Finlay Gardens carried white carnations and yellow roses along a walkway lined with American flags. Students from Fordham’s interreligious council read the names of all 39 alumni and students who were killed on that day.
At Lincoln Center, community members attended an evening mass at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle and then walked silently to the 9/11 memorial on the Robert Moses Plaza for a candlelight vigil.
In addition to a reading of the names of those who perished that day, those assembled listened to Cait Hynes, a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Education, speak publically for the first time about her father Walter Hynes.
Hynes, a captain from Ladder 13, Engine 22 of the New York City Fire Department, was one of 343 members of the FDNY to die in the collapse of the World Trade Center. After a decade of silence, she said she decided to speak so as to better preserve the memory of him.
“I was only 12 years old when my dad died, but I will never forget the type of person he was and what he meant to me” she said, noting that he was also a lawyer and an owner of the Harbor Lights Pub in Rockaway, Queens.
“Even though he was always busy, he always had time for me and my sisters. He was always there to cheer us on at our soccer games, treat us to ice cream, take the family to Disney world or just help me with my math homework,” she said. “My dad was the type of person who truly lived his life for others.”
Eight men in her father’s fire company died that day, and Hynes said it was important to note that the bravery and selflessness they displayed that day was not unusual. That knowledge, and the love and compassion that everyone from fellow community members to total strangers have shown her, have helped tremendously, she said.
“I believe that through the people I have met, I have come to know the bond of human love,” she said.
“You will never hear me say I am glad 9/11 happened. I would give anything to go back in time and see my dad again. But for all the pain and all the tears, I can still appreciate the good things that came from that day. Over the past ten years, I have met people who I may have never otherwise known—people of every color, creed, age, nationality and walk of life. The stories of their generosity and compassion are far too numerous to tell.”
At a reception afterward, Joseph Pellicone, a senior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center from Monmouth County, N.J., reminisced about how he was attending fifth grade at the time. Although no one from his family was killed, a classmate’s father was on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pa.
“I just remember confusion. We saw some kids going home, and not knowing what was the cause of it, and at the end, we found out about the trade center going down,” he said.
“My uncle worked right near there, and I remember him telling us how he ran from the towers. My uncle has always had problems with his legs, and the fact that he was able to keep running and he made it out okay, is just a miracle.”
Chantal Freeman, an FCLS junior from Chicago who sang in the choir at the mass, felt she needed to spend the day coming together and sharing with other people.
“It’s a time when we have to really take a step back and realize how we were in the world, and how consumed we are with ourselves in a way,” she said. “But it also brought us together, made us a stronger country in terms of loving our country.”
On Saturday, the University celebrated a Day of Service, in keeping with the call byPresident Obama “reclaim that spirit of unity” in the country.
Some 130 students from Rose Hill volunteered in the Bronx doing gardening, hosting a car wash and working in local soup kitchens. Before heading out to work on projects at the New York Botanical Garden, the Bainbridge Garden, Crotona Point Park and the Moshulu Parkway, they listened to talks by the Reverend Erika Crawford, Protestant chaplain in the department of campus ministry and Orlando Rodriguez, Ph.D., a professor of sociology who lost his son in the attacks and was the subject of a forthcoming documentary, In Our Son’s Name.
Heidi Hynes, executive director of the Mary Mitchell Center in the Crotona section of the Bronx also spoke, and she appealed to students to think of violence outside the confines of the one-on-one type exemplified by 9/11, and think about persistent inequality as a form of social violence.
(Inside Fordham senior writer Janet Sassi contributed to this story.)