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placeholder 9/11:


Thieves strike Antioch church

Oakland Cathedral begins series of concerts through December

Crowd gathers for Twilight by the Lake

At relocated interfaith service, life, legacy of Rev. King recalled

St. James parish celebrates Mother of Vailankanni festival

New book aids parishes in ministering to gays

Gala aids Oakland sculpture honoring 25 peace leaders

College students spend summer vacation working with poor

Events target teens, parents

Youth group in San Leandro

Principals receive Medal of Merit

• Deacon Hector Victoria
• Sister M. Alice Gough, SHF
• Father Ralph Murphy, SDB
• Sister Mary Leonard Donovan, SHF
• Mary Lou Stelly

Group offers faith events on topics for young people

Church has evolving answer on reality of Adam and Eve

Serra High christens $21M arts, science, pool complex

Study finds cohabitation more harmful to children than divorce

Rice Bowl grant applications sought

Casa Vincentia sets fundraising goal

Film project seeks Cristeros

Interfaith Blood Drive exceeds goal

placeholder September 5, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA

9/11: 10 YEARS AFTER

‘Folks have wondered
where Christ was that day’

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we are naturally drawn back to the events of that day, and our own personal recollections and responses to that tragedy. We remember all those who perished on that day, and recall the service and heroism of first responders, including firefighters, police officers, paramedics and regular citizens. This also affords us the opportunity to reflect as a people of faith 10 years later.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was about to preside at the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Columba in Oakland, when I received a phone call from a friend suggesting I turn on the TV and watch the events unfolding from the World Trade Center in New York City. After celebrating Mass, I received a phone call from Oakland Fire Department Chief Gerald Simon, who asked me if I could report to the City of Oakland’s Emergency Operations Center, which had been activated. There, along with the command staff from OFD, Oakland Police, Port of Oakland, the Mayor’s Office and other city officials, we monitored the events unfolding across the country. Within the EOC, there were 12 large TV screens — each of them tuned to various TV stations reporting on the attacks. I have to admit that by the end of the day, I was emotionally spent. I’m sure that you were, too.

Within the next few days, the Oakland Fire Department mobilized the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue California Task Force 4, comprised of members of different fire departments from throughout the Bay Area. We held an evening of briefing, support and prayer for them and their families at the San Leandro Main Library a few days before they were deployed to work at Ground Zero.

First and foremost, we remember and commend to God’s loving care those who perished at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Numerous members of our Catholic community here in the East Bay have lost spouses, siblings, parents and friends as a result of the 9/11 attacks. We surround you with our love and prayers at this particularly difficult time. We hold you and your loved ones close to our hearts and thoughts.

From the perspective of being a chaplain to numerous first-responder agencies in the East Bay, and because much of my pastoral work involves firefighters and police officers, I can’t help but think about the sacrifices they made in responding to the tragic events of that day, particularly members of the Fire Department of New York, who lost 343 personnel, and the 60 NYPD/Port Authority police officers who died. Officially listed as the first victim of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center is Father Mychal Judge, OFM, the chaplain of the FDNY, who died ministering to firefighters on-scene.

Throughout the past 10 years, I have had numerous conversations with first-responders regarding 9/11, and most of the folks I’ve spoken with admitted that they would have done the same thing as their New York counterparts — their job was (and is) to save lives and respond to those in need — it’s the way they were trained. So as we remember those who died on 9/11, we also express our gratitude for the emergency responders within our communities who continue to serve and protect our lives and property. The sacrifices made by such personnel at the World Trade Center remind us of the difficulties of their profession.

Folks have wondered where Christ was that day. I have struggled with that question as well. My sense is that Christ was in the hearts of those who gave of themselves in the service of others at 9/11. Christ was in the face of all who sacrificed to save, comfort, grieve with, consoled or helped others. I would even venture to say that this was a sorrowful day for God, to see God’s children suffering like this. God was crying that day, as God pains to see such tragedy, even in today’s wars, conflicts, famine and violence.

As we remember the events of 10 years ago, may we never forget those who have died, and those who made sacrifices so that others would live. We are also challenged to seek God’s will and direction for us. The scripture readings for Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, invite us to seek and be instruments of God’s forgiveness and healing. It’s a pretty appropriate set of readings for Mass on that day, and something indeed for us to reflect upon.

(Father Jayson J. Landeza is parochial vicar at St. Felicitas Catholic Church, San Leandro.)

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