Turning to church in tragedy - Catholic Courier

Turning to church in tragedy

Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001?

I was a rookie reporter in the newsroom of the Batavia Daily News, sweating it out on deadline for the afternoon paper.

The day was clear and sunny and it was Primary Day, although I can’t remember if my story for the day was election-related. Regardless, it was not as important as the tragedy that was about to unfold.

Many of the details of that day are a blur, but I remember the murmuring crowd of people gathered around a 13-inch newsroom television, the panic as multiple planes crashed, and the AP wire reports, accurate and not, of strikes on the Pentagon and on the White House.

Soon, we reporters were told to go out in the community and come back with whatever stories we could find.

My first — premature — thought was to call the churches in the area to gauge their response. Many, though, had not yet heard the news and certainly had not yet had time to plan prayer services or vigils. However, in the days after, those churches were packed with people, religious and not, who said countless prayers and sought guidance, comfort and perspective.

I thought back to Sept. 11 years later when I needed to make an emergency call to a priest for help connecting with a funeral home. As my fingers shook and I could barely stand upright, I thanked God that I had landed in a parish, knew my priest’s name and was able to trust him to point me in the right direction.

It’s natural for us to seek out our churches when tragedy strikes.

But I can say from experience that it helps to be there first, for our churches, when it’s not an emergency.

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