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Reflections on 9/11 and life in NYC Print
Guest column
Thursday, Sep. 15, 2011 -- 12:00 AM

Editor’s note: Sr. M. Marcia Vinje, a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary, recently moved from Madison to work at Our Lady of Pity Parish in Staten Island, N.Y. Following are her reflections on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and other experiences.

The 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, are very much in the awareness of everyone in New York.

Everyone has a story about who they knew that died that day, or why their relative should have been at the World Trade Center but for various reasons they were not there that day or came later. The stories of God’s providence are phenomenal.

The victims of the tragedy have a portion of a street named after them as a memorial; the block I live on is dedicated to Anne Marie, who lived close by.

There is a high security alert so you see extra police all around the city. Although they said they would be stopping cars on the bridges to check them, I did not see it as I rode through the city.

Because of the security alert I took public transportation to a catechetical workshop — my first experience riding the ferry (greetings from the Statue of Liberty), subway, and commuter train.

Remembering 9/11

Most churches are having special Masses or prayer services for the victims of 9/11 and their families. Archbishop Dolan will celebrate Mass for the New York Fire department in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

On September 11, we will have a Mass here at our Schoenstatt Shrine and dedicate a memorial garden in our backyard.

The Gospel of today urges us to forgive and so I feel moved to pray for the terrorists who were the instruments of this tragedy. May God have mercy on them and turn the hearts of others who out of hate or ignorance seek to destroy innocent people.

Adjusting to life in New York

I am getting adjusted to New York life even though the mindset is very different from the Midwest.

The international experience is amazing. Our neighbors are from Albania, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, as well as native New Yorkers.

Staten Island is very Catholic and people are so kind once you break through the protective barrier they put up toward strangers. The parish I work at, Our Lady of Pity, is ethnic Italian and Filipino, many first or second generation.

Experiencing storms

I experienced the August 23 earthquake while at Mass in our Schoenstatt Shrine. Just at the elevation of the host the house swayed a bit; many did not even notice it, others thought they were feeling faint, or the Holy Spirit was blowing through. I think larger buildings were more affected; a number had to be evacuated until damage estimates were done.

Preparing for Hurricane Irene was an experience. Bridges were closed and public transportation stopped, which is a huge change for New York.

Here at our home we lost a tree that blocked our street in falling, and our basement flooded with two feet of water, doing quite a bit of damage.

We Sisters do not have flood insurance, but God is so amazing. Just yesterday we received a donation of appliances and furniture that replace most of the large objects we lost.

Many volunteers have helped us with the clean-up and the neighboring parish will let us use their facilities until our basement meeting room can be reconstructed.