Remember the Catholic Heroes of 9/11


Let what they did never be forgotten. Here are a few of the many Catholic heroes of 9/11 the Gregorian Institute’s American Catholic Hall of Fame has covered in the past:

Tom Burnett, a daily-Mass goer, father and businessman, helped take down United Airlines Flight 97.

Father Peter Philominraj, was saying Mass that morning in Our Lady of Victory near the World Trade Center. He immediately organized Eucharistic Adoration, then went outside to anoint the sick and hear confessions.

Father Mychal Judge gave general absolution to firemen, then died with them.

John O’Neill was head of WTC security. Of the 2,606 who died in New York, 16% were only there to help. Many of these were Irish and Italian; their deaths were marked by Mass cards like this one.

Let Gen. Timothy Maude stand for the victims. Gen. Maude, a Knight and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, died when the plane hit his Pentagon office.

Judith Toppin wrote an account of  Paul Carris’s sacrifices rescuing her from the World Trade Center. Carris went on to be ordained a Catholic deacon.

Some heroes were made in the days that followed 9/11. Father Geno Sylva told the National Catholic Register about his experience blessing body parts at Ground Zero and ministering to families.

Jason Read was a first responder who converted to Catholicism at Ground Zero (seeing a priest there was central to his conversion story) and went on to be an Olympic gold medalist.

It took a faith like Will Jimeno’s to force an Oliver Stone movie to note the power of the faith. “What kept me going was my faith in God that my mother instilled in me as a Catholic,” Jimeno says.

Timothy Stackpole, 42, on his way home after his regular shift, made a U-turn and headed back to the World Trade Center. He had barely survived a 1998 fire. After a recuperation that took years, the father of five — and marriage preparation speaker — returned to his post in March 2001. A priest and a firefighter were among the last people to see Stackpole alive. “He went in but wouldn’t let me go in with him until I got a mask,” said the firefighter. “Then the building came down.”

Police Officer Jerome Dominguez, 37, was helping people down from the 20th floor of the north tower when his co-workers told him he had better get downstairs. But he headed up instead, to get more people out. He was never seen again. “Thank God we have faith,” said his father. “That’s how we hold up.”

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is now available on Audible. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, Hoopes served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.