Mass, vets memorial ceremony marks 20 years since 9/11


Courtesy/Jake Lamontagne

Speaker Kevin Ryan, class of 1994, reflecting on the events of 9/11 at the memorial.

Tom Canuel, Culture Editor

On Friday, September 10, the Saint Anselm College community held a day of remembrance to remember the lives of civilians and first responders lost by both the college community and the United States. 

The day began with a solemn celebration of Mass in the Abbey Church at 8:30am. Fr. Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., the president emeritus of Saint Anselm College, said the liturgy. In his 15 minute homily, DeFelice recalled his memories of the terrorist attacks 20 years ago. 

“At 12 noon on September 11, 2001, the Saint Anselm College community gathered in this space, unsure about what would happen next. We had seen the unthinkable.”

As he continued, DeFelice called for the college community to not just remember, but to let the commemoration of the events move us towards love. 

“Our faith compels us to pray for peace and to remove all hatred and evil from our hearts.”

Throughout the day, the college community remembered the lives of Richard Keane, Stephen Roach, and Marine Captain Kyle Van De Giesen, three alumni who passed away as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Keene was a member of the class of 1969 who was in a business meeting on the 99th floor of the World Trade Center. Roach was on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. When he realized what was occurring, he called his wife, told her that he loved her, and told her to keep that message forever.

Marine Captain Kyle Van De Giesen was a member of the class of 2002. According to the Alumni association, De Giesen “joined the Marine Corps following his graduation from Saint Anselm partially in response to the attacks of 9/11.” He died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan shortly after.

A memorial service was held to remember and commemorate the lives of the deceased on 9/11. The service was led by the senior vice president for advancement, James Flanagan. Abbot Mark Cooper, Dean Sue Gabert, president Dr. Joseph Favazza, and special guest Kevin Ryan were also present. 

Favazza spoke about the importance of remembering 9/11. Calling for healing from the events of 9-11-2001, Favazza said, “Once we look painful memories in the eye, we can move towards healing.”

Favazza later recalled this in an interview. “It is important to not forget. We have to allow memories to heal to bring us to peace, justice, and love. This changes us for the better.”

On the day of the terrorist attacks 20 years ago, Favazza was a professor at Rhodes College. Favazza recalled later that he was at a breakfast meeting when, towards the end, one of his co-workers received a call about the attack. Favazza did not know anyone personally in New York on that day.

 “I felt a sense of loss and bewilderment. We had no idea of what would happen next, and I couldn’t quite comprehend the gravity of what was occurring.”

The highlight of the memorial service was a reflection from Kevin Ryan, a member of the Saint Anselm College class of 1994. In his reflection, Ryan spoke about Orio Palmer, his brother-in-law who died in the south tower. Palmer was a NYC firefighter who was called into the north tower the day of the attacks. When news broke of the south tower being hit, he ran into the south tower to respond. Palmer repaired an elevator, repaired some communications systems, and climbed up to help citizens find an escape route. Palmer climbed to the 78th floor, the impact zone in the south tower. 

According to Ryan, “Seven minutes after my brother-in-law’s last communication, the south tower collapsed.”

Ryan recalled a saying that was often seen on the fridge at Palmer’s house, stating, “We all must live while we are alive.” This phrase touched Ryan, especially during Palmer’s memorial service.

In an interview after the service, Ryan spoke about his feelings on 9/11. “I felt angry, sad, a sense of emptiness, uncertainty about the future, and a range of emotions.”

During the service, student body president Rit Flandreau and vice president Kevin Chrisom laid a wreath at the Veteran’s Memorial on Alumni quad. The college choir sang “America the Beautiful”, and Abbot Mark Cooper closed the service in a prayer.

 As Dr. Favazza stated during his reflection, “Let us never forget the events of this day.”