Bishop O’Connell marks the 20th anniversary of 9-11 with prayer service.  Matt Greeley photo
Bishop O’Connell marks the 20th anniversary of 9-11 with prayer service. Matt Greeley photo
For years, the numbers 911 meant a call for help.

“Now they also remind us of Sept. 11, 2001, the date of the worst terrorist attack on the United States of America and certainly one of the deadliest ever on American soil.”Falling into the temptation of rejecting the Cross and choosing a triumphalist form of Christianity leads to a faith that is superficial and sterile, Pope Francis said.

With these words, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., began a prayer service in remembrance of the attacks taking place 20 years ago.

The prayer service, which was filmed in the Diocesan Chancery, Lawrenceville, by the Department of Multimedia Production, included a reflection from Bishop O’Connell, Readings from Scripture that were proclaimed by Chancery staff members and prayer excerpts from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, and an adapted version from the Prayer of Pope Benedict at Ground Zero, 9/11/15.

“We come together day here and throughout the Diocese of Trenton to remember 2,977 of our fellow citizens who lost their lives 20 years ago in the terrorist attacks on our country at New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C., and the fields of Shanksville, Pa.,” said Bishop O’Connell, who, in 2001, was serving as president of The Catholic University of America, Washington, just seven miles from the Pentagon building where one of the planes crashed.

“We know ‘how’ and ‘when’ these deadliest terrorist attacks in world history happened on an otherwise beautiful Tuesday morning in September 2001,” he said. “The images of this horror are etched in our minds, etched so deeply that they have become permanent scars from the wounds that still remain painful, from the wounds that we all share and that we bring to mind this day.”

Bishop O’Connell admitted that for anyone who was alive on Sept. 11, 2001, it is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the attacks and acknowledged that a prevalent question that has continuously remained on the minds of many Americans ever since is “why.”


Then shifting his focus, Bishop O’Connell spoke about all the good to come out of the tragedy from 20 years ago saying, “Despite our encounters with evil in this world, we find much more good.” The good, he said, was found “in the people like those who helped on that day. They sacrificed to try to save as many people as possible.

“9-11,” he continued, “reminds us of the willingness of people to step up, to step in and to show care and compassion without reservation.

“These are the heroes,” he said of the first responders, the police, the fire departments, the emergency professionals, the ordinary people who cared and who still care.

They are, he said, “heroes one and all.”

Bishop O’Connell concluded his reflection by urging all the faithful to keep their focus on having hope in the risen Lord.

“Today on this 20th anniversary of 9-11, let us commend our dead and let us also commend the living to almighty God,” he said. “For in life and in The prayer service premiered on September 11 on the diocesan YouTube and social media pages.  To view the prayer service, read and listen to Bishop O’Connell’s reflections visit: https://dioceseoftrenton.org/news/diocese-of-trenton-observes-20th-anniversary-of-9-11