On 9/11 anniversary, faith leaders nationwide offer prayers, comfort and hope for our country

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Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, marks the 21st anniversary of the terror attacks that claimed thousands of American lives, wounded many others and caused appalling destruction.

Many Americans will spend the day (and a big part of the weekend) reflecting on the events of that day, while others will reach for lessons, understanding and prayer about the need to rely on God in times of suffering.

As the nation remembers all those those and harmed, faith leaders from around the nation shared thoughts, prayers and remembrances with Fox News Digital of that day and what we all might seek to remember.

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“Looking back on 9/11, we remember the fragility of our world and our inability to proactively avoid every tragedy,” said Dr. James Spencer, president of the D.L. Moody Center in Northfield, Massachusetts.

A man walks through the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial at sunrise across from New York’s Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J. 
(Reuters/Gary Hershorn)

“We live in a broken world with people who too often see violence and murder as the solution to the problems they perceive,” added Spencer. 

“Yet we also live in God’s world,” he continued.

“We should see the tragedy of fallenness in the 9/11 attacks, along with the glimmer of God’s image and wisdom in the way that women and men of all sorts recognized evil acts and rallied together to help those harmed by it,” he said.

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Patti Garibay, national executive director of American Heritage Girls, a faith-based program dedicated to building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country, told Fox News Digital that “9/11 is a day we will never forget.”

Said Garibay of American Heritage Girls, "Every citizen felt an overwhelming need to do something, anything to help the survivors" of 9/11. 

Said Garibay of American Heritage Girls, “Every citizen felt an overwhelming need to do something, anything to help the survivors” of 9/11. 
(iStock)

She added, “Every citizen glued to the television felt an overwhelming need to do something, anything to help the survivors … And so it began, individual by individual, community by community unified over a common concern — an unjust loss of thousands of innocent lives.”

“An idea of a community sock collection for firefighters started as a spark for one young American Heritage Girl Troop member,” said the Cincinnati-based Garibay.

“My own college-aged daughter insisted on making the trek to New York City to help the Red Cross at the site.”

Army Reserve Sgt. Edwin Morales kneels in memory of his late friend Ruben Correa, a firefighter who died during 9/11, at the National September 11 Memorial. "Out of the literal ashes grew hope, unity and a renewed sense of community and country," said one faith leader to Fox News Digital.

Army Reserve Sgt. Edwin Morales kneels in memory of his late friend Ruben Correa, a firefighter who died during 9/11, at the National September 11 Memorial. “Out of the literal ashes grew hope, unity and a renewed sense of community and country,” said one faith leader to Fox News Digital.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Noting that her daughter’s “remembrance of this event is not of the evil wrongdoing caused by misguided terrorists,” she said that it was, rather, “of the courageous helpers who, without concern for their own lives or health, joined in a common cause.” 

“On that day,” Garibay also said, “it did not matter who you were [or] where you were from — humanity was helping humanity. Out of the literal ashes grew hope, unity and a renewed sense of community and country.”

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Rabbi Pinchas Taylor, founder of The Ark Torah Study and Coaching Program in Plantation, Florida, told Fox News Digital that the question, “Where were you on 9/11?” is one that “still haunts us 21 years later.” 

He said, “The grief of the nation never fully goes away, and we pray that God uplifts the souls of the victims, brings strength to their families and protects all of us against future attacks.”

The sun rises behind the Postcards 9/11 memorial by New York architect Masayuki Sono on Staten Island, New York. "In the midst of that darkness, we saw the bright lights of the courage of citizen heroes whose bravery cost them their own lives," Bishop Robert Brennan of Brooklyn told Fox News Digital.

The sun rises behind the Postcards 9/11 memorial by New York architect Masayuki Sono on Staten Island, New York. “In the midst of that darkness, we saw the bright lights of the courage of citizen heroes whose bravery cost them their own lives,” Bishop Robert Brennan of Brooklyn told Fox News Digital.
(KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

“This day was not only a physical attack within the borders of our nation, but an attack on our values and way of life.”

He also said, “America is not built by steel or concrete, nor by consumerism, technology or entertainment. America is built upon eternal values: that every human being is created in the image of God and endowed with inalienable rights.”

“Every human being was created with purpose, and together we share a history and a destiny.” 

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“In Jewish tradition,” he noted, “mourning a tragedy also inspires a call to action. Terrorists may have succeeded in taking precious lives, destroying buildings and shaking our nation, but they will never succeed in destroying our foundation.”

He added that we must “march forward under the mantle of our national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’” and be “empowered to be a greater beacon of light and liberty around the world.”

“We will never forget those who died that day here in New York, in Washington, D.C., and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and those who died in the years since from 9/11-related illnesses.”

Archbishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington, Va., told Fox News Digital that in this time of remembrance, “we stand together as a country to mourn all who were killed or injured in these attacks, and for their families whose lives were changed forever.” 

He also said, “We also remember and honor the bravery and service of all the first responders, medical personnel and so-called ordinary people who risked their lives to assist in any way they could.”

He continued, “May we be united in prayer, especially this week, for all those who died in the attacks of 9/11, and for all those who served that day and ever since. We commend them to God’s infinite love and ask that He look after all those who protect our nation, and bless us with His peace.”

Visitors gather to pay respects during the Flight 93 National Memorial's annual Luminaria on the eve of 16th anniversary ceremony, five years ago, of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "May God unite us once again," said one person.

Visitors gather to pay respects during the Flight 93 National Memorial’s annual Luminaria on the eve of 16th anniversary ceremony, five years ago, of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “May God unite us once again,” said one person.
(Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Sheri Few, founder and president of United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) headquartered near Columbia, South Carolina, said that we must “restore American patriotism. Americans need to recall the patriotism that followed 9/11 and work to build pride in our country again.”

She added, “We need to love one another, appreciate our differences and rebuild the unity that was so prevalent on 9/12. God bless our great nation and may God unite us once again without being prompted by tragedy.”

“Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good” (Romans 12:21). 

Bishop Robert Brennan of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., said that “the approach of September 11th finds us reflective, recalling the attacks of that day in 2001.”

He added, “We will never forget those who died that day here in New York, in Washington, D.C., and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania — and those who died in the years since from 9/11-related illnesses.”

He also said, “Looking back at that horrible day, we witnessed the worst of humanity in the violent destruction of human life.”

“In the midst of that darkness, we saw the bright lights of the courage of citizen heroes whose bravery cost them their own lives, the bravery of first responders who answered the call to serve knowing they were likely risking their lives and the goodness of people who reached out to support and console one another.” 

President George W. Bush is shown greeting firefighters, police and rescue personnel while touring the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attack in New York City on Sept.14, 2001. Image courtesy National Archives.

President George W. Bush is shown greeting firefighters, police and rescue personnel while touring the site of the World Trade Center terrorist attack in New York City on Sept.14, 2001. Image courtesy National Archives.
(Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

He added, “In a spirit of hope in the midst of sorrow, we draw on the words of St. Paul; “Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

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Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA, based in Greenville, S.C., told Fox News Digital, “The attacks on 9/11 were horrific. We must never forget the lives that were lost and the families that were destroyed — nor should we ever forget the brave men and women who put their lives on the line for the sake of their fellow Americans. 

He added, “We must never forget the sense we had of being an American, of being united and celebrating our union together as One Nation Under God.”

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Hancock also said, “In the midst of the worst evil, we saw the greatest good. In those moments of terror and heart-wrenching loss, the heart of our nation was revealed.”

“We saw many examples of men willing to step up and risk everything to save others,” he said. “[They displayed] bravery harnessed by wisdom, action tethered by self-restraint, self-assertion marked by self-control and honor clothed in humility.”

Maureen Mackey of Fox News Digital contributed reporting to this article.

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