Web Exclusive

Franciscan University’s Response to 9/11

Franciscan Magazine Homepage > Autumn 2022 > Franciscan University’s Response to 9/11

Web Exclusive

Franciscan University’s Response to 9/11

Remembering the national tragedy that struck 21 years ago.

Autumn 2022 | Melissa Zifzal

In This Article

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which took the lives of nearly 3,000 people, shook the Franciscan University community, which quickly united in prayer. The campus newspaper, The Troubadour, and the University’s alumni magazine, Franciscan Way, recorded the events of that frightening time.

Soon after the attacks, the lawn of the J.C. Williams Center became a central area for prayer, with the Blessed Sacrament exposed for a portion of the time on a pyramid of votive candles, and praise and worship and the Rosary held there also. A Holy Hour in Christ the King Chapel followed.

“Our response at this time of national crisis must be one of prayer and support for those who are suffering,” Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, then chancellor, said.

As the country struggled to come to grips with the tragedy, President George W. Bush called for a national day of prayer and remembrance on September 14, 2001. Students gathered to pray the Rosary at the flagpole and attended multiple prayer services, Masses, and benediction in Christ the King Chapel, where adoration was held as well. In addition, students raised approximately $1,800 for the National Red Cross Fund, and Franciscan University Student Association later sponsored a blood drive.

More than 4,000 miles away, Franciscan students participating in the University’s study abroad program in Gaming, Austria, were comforted by hundreds of Gaming residents, Austrian military personnel, and local dignitaries who assembled in the courtyard of the Kartause Maria Thron Iesu for a ceremony to show their support for the Americans.

“We would all like to take this opportunity to express our solidarity with you and your nation … May God bless and protect the people of America,” said Walter Hildebrand, the Austrian architect who restored the Kartause. Following the ceremony, the Austrian attendees signed a declaration of solidarity that was delivered to the American Embassy in Vienna.

The tragedy cast a shadow on the 10th anniversary of the study abroad program. A celebration planned for October 1 that was to have included members of the Board of Trustees, major administrators, and other University supporters was canceled. President Father Terence Henry, TOR, and Deacon Dr. Stephen Miletic, then dean of Faculty, traveled to Gaming as scheduled to deliver prayers and support from Steubenville. While there, Father Terence lifted the University’s weeks-long restrictions on student travel throughout Europe but cautioned the students to move about in groups and to keep a low profile. A few students returned home, but the majority remained.

Back on campus, junior Faith Hickey donated to the University a chunk of debris from the World Trade Center and a damaged firefighter helmet that belonged to her father, Sean, a member of Battalion 117 based in Queens who was among the first rescue workers at the site. The mementos are part of an annual September 11 remembrance display inside the St. John Paul II Library.

Each year, the lives of the September 11 victims are honored by 2,977 American flags placed on the library lawn. Members of Franciscan University’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom marked the 20th anniversary in 2021 with the annual flag display and provided an information table to help educate fellow students about the loss of life at the three crash sites.

Go to Top