New York fire chaplain describes Sept. 11 attacks
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STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) - The Rev. John Delendick, a chaplain for
the New York City Fire Department, is frequently asked why
firefighters went into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11.
They went, he said, because firefighters take an oath, and
"they take that oath seriously."
Delendick shared his memories Thursday in a homily to about 800
worshippers at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Stillwater.
Since Sept. 11, he said, he is constantly reminded of something
the Rev. Mychal Judge - another Fire Department chaplain who died
that day - used to say when he sought his counsel: "What are you
worried about? God is with you."
In remembering the rush to rescue, he said, he is reminded of
how Jesus climbed Calvary and accepted death on the cross.
"When these men climbed the steps of the World Trade Center,
they climbed the hill of Calvary. They saved lives. They earned the
right to climb the hill of resurrection."
Delendick, pastor of St. Michael's Church in Brooklyn, was
invited by St. Michael's in Stillwater to celebrate its 25th annual
Festival Mass of Freedom. He was accompanied by New York
firefighter Danny Prince, who was visiting his brother in Golden
Valley on Sept. 11.
Thursday's service lasted more than two hours, and was a mix of
the sacred and the patriotic. A U.S. flag was suspended from the
ceiling, and members of Stillwater's VFW post served as the color
guard. They were followed down the aisle by Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts
and the Knights of Columbus.
Delendick recalled the many emotions he felt on Sept. 11 and the
days after working at ground zero. On Sept. 14, President Bush
surveyed the scene, and Delendick was given the job of escorting
church leaders to meet him. As news photographers snapped picture
after picture, he said he could feel his anger grow.
At first, he didn't understand his anger, but he later realized
it was because the pictures reflected a mass of twisted steel and
rubble. He felt that the Trade Center's true image was people -
those who worked in the buildings and who were helping the rescue
effort.
"That day, we saw two faces. We saw the face of sheer evil when
the planes hit the tower, and we also saw the face of pure
goodness, all the people who came to the World Trade Center to
help."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press