To commemorate the 19th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry of Newark presented a virtual 9/11 Memorial Prayer Service. Students from Rutgers-Newark, NJIT and Essex County College participated in the hour-long service held via Zoom.

Campus Minister Matthew Cherrey, a 22-year-old graduate student at NJIT and Westfield resident, organized the event. “We thought this virtual prayer service would be a great way to spiritually connect with the students we serve,” he said.

Cherrey said the opening prayer during the service, reflecting and honoring those who perished. “We dedicate this service to those who died on the planes and those who died in the buildings. We dedicate it to the first responders who sacrificed their lives to save others. We pray for the souls of the dead, and for the souls of their friends and relatives,” he remarked.

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During the prayer service, students participated in the readings and recited the rosary. The director of campus ministry for the Archdiocese of Newark, Father Jim Chern, also spoke. He noted how there are now college students who were born after 9/11 and have no recollection of that day. He also discussed how the world has changed since the attack.

“9/11 changed our history, changed our lives. But how can 9/11/20 and every day after that be a way for us to change history, change our world again? Meaningful ways, that things can become different,” Father Chern reflected. “It was a diabolical and twisted vision of God that the terrorists had embraced that caused this catastrophic change. What if as Catholic Christians, we had a deeper, more radical embrace of the Gospel? What if our desire to know, to love and to serve Jesus Christ was more our true life’s focus and desire? What could happen?”

Father Chern added: “As we gather this evening for this annual remembrance of all those we lost on September 11th and rightly pray for the victims and their families, the heroes and those who selflessly laid down their lives in service to others in need, may we include an intention that our hearts may remain open, receptive and obedient to the call of the Lord to become the saints He calls us to be, not simply for our own sanctification but for a world in desperate need of saints.” 

Starting this week, the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry of Newark is offering a rosary prayer for the special intentions of the community every Monday afternoon, Bible study on Wednesday afternoons and faith and fellowship every Friday night. They also pray the liturgy of the hours every night.

Esmeralda Cameron contributed reporting.