By Maria Ferris | Correspondent
On the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, messages of peace were not only heard in the homily in St. David the King Parish, West Windsor, but from the victims as well.
“If we are to survive, we must forgive,” said Ted Suarez, whose son David died after two planes were hijacked and flown into New York City’s World Trade Center. David Suarez worked in the North Tower.
Suarez admitted that although he doesn’t always understand God’s will, “I accept the plan.”
“I remember Mohamed Atta in my prayers,” he added, referencing the hijacker who piloted the plane into the North Tower.
Suarez was among nearly 50 faithful who attended an evening 9/11 Memorial Mass Sept. 11. The parish lost three members in the attacks – Suarez, Michael Cunningham and John Ryan – along with several relatives of parishioners.
In his homily, Father Timothy Capewell, pastor, who celebrated the Mass, reflected on the “unthinkable act of violence” and referred to Pope Francis’ sentiments made during the Pope’s visit to Ground Zero in 2015, where he called for peace in homes, families, schools, communities and peace in places where war and pain never seem to end.
Parishioner Jon Kelly was in New York City on Sept. 11. He said he asks God “to instruct every heart that tries to open up to him” to turn away from hate such as that which led to the terror attacks. Kelly knew Franciscan Father Mychal Judge, chaplain to the New York City Fire Department, who was killed by debris while praying over victims of the Twin Towers.
The chaplain, Father Capewell said, “was a priest who simply wanted to go where God needed him to go. He never refused whatever God was calling him to do.”
After Mass, Father Capewell reflected on how the attacks impacted his parish, but also the lasting effects they had on faith.
“It [Sept. 11] can bring out hatred for the culprits who did this, or we can follow the path of Christ – peace and forgiveness,” Father Capewell said.
“God can forgive us our sins unlimited times – then we have to forgive those who have hurt us as well,” he said. “We can get disheartened when tragic events like this happen. What we try to do is rejoice in God’s grace and strength, and that gives us courage and peace.”
“There’s a lot of good people in the world. They want to answer the call of God to be good Catholics, good Christians, to be loving and forgiving,” Father Capewell, added, referencing as an example how strangers have been helping strangers during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
When asked how society can make sense of good and evil, Father Capewell said, “All I can think of is the great line from St. Paul, who said where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.”
Father Capewell admitted that encountering loss is a life lesson.
“We will lose loved ones, and some day it will be our turn to go home,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be a faith strong enough that brings us peace and helps us draw to God and his promise of eternal life.
“Our faith tells us that they [loved ones] are with the Lord in heaven, and we shall be reunited with them one day.”