For most of us, September 11th remains a lived experience. We have our stories of that fateful day that we might recall on this 22nd anniversary of 9/11. That is why we continue to keep up our annual tradition of the 9/11 Service that will be held tomorrow at 6:30 pm, here at St. Matthias. Thanks to the Fire Companies of Franklin Fire District # 1 who are hosting this service to honor the emergency service members who were killed on September 11, 2001, including our parishioner FDNY Firefighter John M. Collins, who graduated from St. Matthias School and Immaculata High School. Since this is held in our church at 6:30 pm, we will not have the weekly adoration tomorrow. I invite as many as possible to attend this memorial service as we have clear memories of this tragedy that left a deep wound and indelible mark on our nation’s collective memory.
But there is a whole new generation, born after 9/11, for whom 9/11 holds no memories. It has become a history lesson that could become folklore with the passage of time. That is all the more reason for us to keep this anniversary as an opportunity to enlighten our younger generation about this historic tragedy that struck our nation. They need to be present at the anniversary ceremonies so that they can understand the pain and agony – physical and emotional – of those who suffered and continue to suffer. I am asking our parents, especially those with children in St. Matthias School, to come tomorrow with their children to this year’s 9/11 Memorial Service at 6:30 pm.
I am grateful to Bill Cullen, a former fire Chief and John Hauss, Director of the Fire Prevention Office of Franklin Township and others who are taking the lead in organizing this important event.
Today is also ‘National Grandparents Day’ – a time to honor grandparents and grand-friends for their contributions to our families, neighborhoods and communities. You may remember we had already celebrated this in June with “the World Day for grandparents and elderly” that Pope Francis had instituted. It was on the Sunday closest to the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. The US bishops Conference had postponed it to coincide with our national celebration of grandparents today — the Sunday after Labor Day. Celebrating it again is simply another reminder for us all to show greater understanding and respect to grandparents and elderly who are often ignored by many. It is an opportunity to publicly affirm the identity and importance of grandparents who play a vital role in families.
We know that Pope Francis has been championing the cause of all the marginalized of the society. He has condemned the “throw away” culture that tend to push aside the grandparents and the elderly. He has invited the world to respect them and learn from their wisdom. His exhortation is worth listening to: “From the elderly we received the gift of belonging to God’s holy people. The Church, as well as society, needs them, for they entrust to the present the past that is needed to build the future. Let us honor them, neither depriving ourselves of their company nor depriving them of ours. May we never allow the elderly to be cast aside!”
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal