We remember where we were and who we were, at the moment of curiosity when the first plane hit, and of disbelief when the second plane hit its twin. We remember our shock and horror at the collapse of the towers, and how the world as we knew it had shattered.
For many of Fairfield University’s staff, faculty, and students who were on campus the morning of September 11, 2001, these memories are permanently tied to the University.
Photos by Jean Santopatre
“In the Book of Job,” says Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J., Assistant to the President and Alumni Chaplain, “one messenger after another comes to Job to tell him of the destruction of his fields, his herds, his servants, and finally his family. So it was for those of us who worked in Bellarmine Hall on September 11, 2001. Over and over again, messengers from the second floor – where there was a small TV set – came down to tell us on the first floor of the attack on the North Tower, the attack on the South Tower, the attack on the Pentagon, the crash in Pennsylvania, the collapse of the South Tower, and finally the collapse of the North Tower.”
Adds Jean Santopatre, University Photojournalist, who was on her way to work when she first heard the news, “I thought, oh, a small plane must have clipped the building…but when I arrived at Bellarmine Hall, the halls were abuzz and the TV’s were on in various offices reporting what was really taking place at the World Trade Center. Our Public Relations team huddled together to watch the events unfold until the University closed and went into lock-down.”
By mid-afternoon, between 1,000 and 1,500 members of the University community had gathered for an impromptu mass held on the Egan Chapel plaza, according to Mark Reed, Vice President of Administration and Chief of Staff. Recalls Carolyn Rusiackas, Associate Director, Office of Campus Ministry, “At times of uncertainty, tragedy, and shock, we did at Fairfield what we do best – we instinctively drew together as a university community to pray. A Mass was offered that afternoon, and as always when we need the strength of God’s care in the unknowing, we turned to Him.”
Adds Jim Fitzpatrick, ’70, M.A. ’72, Assistant Vice President of Administration and Student Affairs, “As many Americans in the tri-state area remember, it was a glorious late summer day. There was not a cloud in the sky over the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola as the special Mass was celebrated mid-afternoon. Everyone was praying for the victims, but I’m sure there was total confusion as to what else we were praying for.”
With ground zero only 59 miles away from campus, the devastating news was in the air and even visible in the sky. Recalls Reed, who was Dean of Students at the time, “[We took] a ride to the [Fairfield] beach … to touch base with students. We walked out to the sea wall at Lantern Point, and it was such a clear, sunny day that we could see the smoke from lower Manhattan across Long Island Sound.”
When the smoke cleared, the reality of the terrorist attacks set in. “The next several days were extremely difficult for everyone on campus as bodies began to be identified,” recalls Rusiackas. “Alumni House became the heartbeat of the campus community,” she says; Fr. Allen adds, “In the days ahead, I would walk up to Alumni House from Bellarmine Hall. We had a list of over 100 names and home telephone numbers of University alumni who worked in or near the World Trade Towers. One by one, we called each number trying to discover who was alive and who was lost.”
Ten years later, we remember how our University community came together in grief, strength, service, and engagement in the days, weeks, and years that followed this unthinkable moment in our collective memory. And how today, Fairfield’s commitment to global citizenship is woven into the fabric of our mission, faithful and resolute – tighter and stronger with every year passing.
We remember our alumni who were lost on September 11, 2011.
- Michael Andrews ’89
- Jonathan Cappello ’00
- Chris Dunne ’95
- Steve Hagis ’91
- Joe Heller ’86
- Mitch Jacobs ’69
- Michael Lunden ’86
- Frank McGuinn ’74
- Patrick McGuire ’82
- William Micciulli ’93
- Marc Murolo ’95
- Christopher Orgielewicz ’87
- Johanna Sigmund ’98
- Christopher Slattery ’92
The following scholarships honor those lost in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
- Christopher Slattery ’92 Fairfield Memorial Scholarship
- H. Joseph Heller and Michael P. Lunden ’86 Memorial Scholarship
- Michael R. Andrews ’89 Memorial Scholarship Fund
- Jonathan Neff Cappello ’00 Scholarship
9/11 10th Anniversary Schedule of Events
A 5-day commemoration of 9/11 at Fairfield University will culminate in a 10-year anniversary Mass in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 11 a.m. All events are open to the public. Read more.
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