9-11 Reflections – Profile: Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J.

Submitted by Web Communications on September 7, 2011

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.

Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J.

Title: Assistant to the President and Alumni Chaplain

Town: Fairfield, CT

 

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In the Book of Job, 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.

At 2 p.m. on that most gorgeous September afternoon, those members of the Fairfield University community still on campus gathered on the plaza in front of the Egan Chapel to celebrate Mass for those who had died and for those who mourned their loss.

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.

Then came the memorial services. Rarely was there a funeral because rarely was there a body to be brought into the church. I found myself in Holmdel, New Jersey, Tottenville on Staten Island, and Belle Harbor and Oyster Bay on Long Island remembering the repose of the soul of a Fairfield graduate and trying to console a grieving family.

What stands out in my mind most from those weeks after September 11 were the eulogies, most often given by a brother or sister of the deceased. Those words have found their way into many of my sermons since then.

I especially remember the words of the younger sister of Christopher Slattery ’92. She described how, when Chris left to begin his studies at Fairfield, she would look across Long Island Sound from her home in Oyster Bay and wonder which light on the Connecticut shore line was the light of his dormitory room. Now, she found herself looking into the heavens wondering which star marked the light of Chris’ presence in Heaven.

For those who died in the “Attack on America,” may they rest in peace, and may we, the living, never forget the meaning of their lives and the meaning of that tragic day.

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