Retired Bishop Thomas V. Daily remembers exactly where he was when he heard about the attacks on the Twin Towers.
Bishop Daily, who was Bishop of Brooklyn at the time, was sitting in his seventh-floor office at 75 Greene Ave. in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. He was speaking with a priest of the diocese, telling him about a new assignment.
When a diocesan official told the bishop what had happened, he rushed to his office window. “I could see the smoke. I actually could see the second plane going into the building. It looked like it went right through the building,” recalled Bishop Daily.
The bishop then decided he would go to St. James Cathedral in Downtown Brooklyn and celebrate the noon Mass for the victims of the terrorist attack.
The cathedral sits at the intersection of Tillary and Jay streets, only a block from the Brooklyn Bridge, which many people were using to flee from Manhattan.
“I stood outside and I was inviting them to come for Mass,” said the bishop. “It was an eerie situation. The people were covered with dust. They were almost like in a daze, like in a paralyzed state.
“So, some came into the church and we celebrated Mass with them. I felt it was the best thing I could do for them at the time.”
On the following day, Bishop Daily accompanied then-Father John Delendick, the chaplain to the city’s firefighters, to Ground Zero, where he comforted and spoke with some of the first responders.
“People were helping in many different ways, doing what they could do,” said Bishop Daily.
“But it was like being in shock, just looking around and seeing what was going on.”
Bishop Daily recalled some of the names of people he personally knew who perished in the destruction. People like hero Firefighter Timothy Stackpole, who had just been promoted to captain and was only on his second day back on the job after an extended sick leave. Only two days prior, Bishop Daily was with Stackpole and his family while Tim was being honored at the Great Irish Fair. This weekend, the Great Irish Fair will be held again and a memorial award in the name of Capt. Stackpole will be part of the opening ceremonies.
Also part of the Great Irish Fair that year was Father Mychal Judge, O.F.M. Cap., who concelebrated along with Bishop Daily the opening Mass at the fairgrounds. The Brooklyn-born Father Judge was a Fire Dept. chaplain at the time and he was there to help honor Capt. Stackpole. Ironically, Father Judge was among the first to die at the World Trade Center site as he was ministering to the victims rushing from the towering inferno.
Everyone has a story about where they were when the Towers fell. Everyone knows someone who died or a family affected by the awful events of 9/11.
As the days following the attacks passed, churches remained open. Special Masses and other prayers of remembrance were conducted.
Ten years later, the memories are still vivid in our minds. This weekend, while prayers were not permitted at the dedication of the national memorial to 9/11 in Lower Manhattan, parishes throughout the city were filled, reminiscent of those terrible times following the initial attacks.
The front page of The Tablet from the week of 9/11/01 carried the headline, “Let Us Pray.”
Ten years later, we remember and we still pray.