- Catholic Review - https://catholicreview.org -

Our Back Pages: Terrorist attack hit too close to home for Loyola Blakefield

Daniel W. McNeil, a graduate of Loyola Blakefield in Towson, was 29 when he was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. (CR file)

Loyola Blakefield will celebrate its annual Mass of the Holy Spirit Sept. 16. The liturgy will include the announcement of the upperclassman who will receive the Daniel W. McNeal Scholarship Award, which honors the memory of a member of the class of 1990 who died Sept. 11, 2001, in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York. 

As reported in the Sept. 20, 2001, edition of the Catholic Review, McNeal, a financial analyst for Sandler O’Neill, was working on the 104th floor of the south tower when a hijacked airliner crashed into the north tower. McNeal called home to reassure family he was alright, but his fate changed when the south tower was struck in a similar attack.

“After receiving his earlier phone message, Mr. McNeal’s family had to endure three days of terrible uncertainty, of not knowing whether their son was dead or alive. … A former Loyola class president who was planning to walk his sister down the aisle at her wedding two weeks after the terrorist attack, Mr. McNeal was remembered as a young man of great moral character and sincere faith.”

Michael Addison Fitz-Patrick, another member of the school’s class of 1990, worked out of the Lutherville office of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, but was in lower Manhattan for a three-week training session, which placed him on the 61st floor of the south tower. A parishioner of Sacred Heart, Glyndon, he was able to get out safely. 

The John Carroll School in Bel Air was also deeply affected, as its freshman class included the daughter of Joseph V. Maggitti, among those in the finance business  who died at the World Trade Center. 

Other headlines in the Sept. 20 edition of the Review, then a weekly newspaper, read “Archdiocesan, other religious leaders warn against hatred,” and “Baltimore Muslim leader calls for greater interfaith efforts.” 

The late Christopher Gaul, then associate editor of the Review, reported on a Sept. 13 interfaith service at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “initiated and organized hastily by Cardinal William H. Keeler soon after the horror of Sept. 11, (it) brought together Christians – Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Protestants – Jews, Muslims and even some Buddhists, to mourn and to comfort one another under the same roof.

The south tower of New York City’s World Trade Center bursts into flames Sept. 11, 2001, after being struck by hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 as the north tower burns following an earlier attack that morning by a hijacked airliner. Nearly 3,000 people died in the collapse of the towers, at the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania when terrorists attacked the United States using commercial airplanes. (CNS photo/Sean Adair, Reuters)

“As Baltimore Mayor Martin J. O’Malley, accompanied by his two daughters dressed in the plaid skirt and white blouse uniforms of Immaculate Conception School, Towson, sat attentively in a front pew, Rabbi Joel Zaiman, leader of the Chizuk Amuno Congregation, called for vigilance in the fight against terror but asked God to ‘save us from our anger.’” 

Gaul continued, “Imam Mohammed Bashar Arafat, director of the Islamic Society of Baltimore and Muslim chaplain for The Johns Hopkins University, pursued that theme noting that ‘Our Lord does not approve of us killing one another,’ and that we need to ‘love and help one another.’

“The United States would lose its soul if it gave into the same hatred that possesses terrorists, said Cardinal Keeler, emphasizing that ‘this is the time for justice, yes, but not for vengeance.’” 

Across the Archdiocese of Baltimore, faith communities gathered to pray and mourn the loss of nearly 3,000 people as airliners hijacked by the militant terrorist group al-Qaeda also crashed in Shanksville, Pa., and the Pentagon, where now-Bishop Richard T. Spencer, an Army chaplain and former pastor of St. Peter in Western Maryland, blessed the bodies of the dead.

At St. Joan of Arc School in Aberdeen, near the military installation of Aberdeen Proving Ground, the pastor observed families solemnly picking up their children before the normal dismissal time.

“There was no talk of soccer practice or homework, only a very deep, genuine love and concern for children,” Father Samuel V. Young told the Review.

More than 600 people gathered for an evening prayer service Sept. 11 at St. Louis in Clarksville, where Monsignor Joseph L. Luca noted that many of his parishioners worked for the Department of Defense, and that some were stationed in the Pentagon. “People are feeling the pain,” he told the Review. “They are trying to encounter the Lord and his healing.” 

St. Casimir in Canton was among the churches that held similar vigils. Ten days later, Conventual Franciscan Father Ross Syracuse, the pastor and a marathoner, jogged the local streets, carrying aloft a small American flag.

The loss of life in Pennsylvania occurred less than 40 miles from St. Michael in Frostburg, where Father Paul Byrnes, the pastor, said his people were “shaken.” 

Email Paul McMullen at pmcmullen@CatholicReview.org

Also see

Copyright © 2021 Catholic Review Media