University City

Youth plan Sept. 11 memorial service

On Sept. 11, 2001, many of the youth group leaders at St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church were only 6 years old.

They remember seeing the planes on television and worrying about relatives who lived in New York. They remember seeing worried adults. Some weren't sure if what they were seeing on television was real.

Ten years later, these teenagers have helped put together a service remembering Sept. 11, which will be at 6:30 p.m. today at the church.

The service will be a time of prayer and remembrance, and a survivor who fled the World Trade Center will speak.

"(Sept. 11) is a very important event in our history as Americans, and it is important that we are together and remembering those who were deeply impacted in the attacks," wrote youth leader Bayli Rossman, an 11th grader at Central Cabarrus High School, in an email. And, she added, the day is "part of who we are."

The idea for the service began with St. Thomas Aquinas youth minister Katie Herzing, who was a teenager in 2001. That day, she said, would be the significant historical event for this generation.

"They all remember it," Herzing said of the youth group. "It was a very significant event for them. Now, 10 years later, they can remember and pray for everyone who is still affected by it."

Herzing said discussions about Sept. 11 have raised issues about the best ways to solve conflicts. The youth group also has talked about living out faith at every moment, not just in times of trouble.

Under the direction of Fr. Remo DiSalvatore, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, the youth group has planned a remembrance service that will include reflective prayer and recitation of the Rosary. Youth leaders include Rossman, Daniela Jeldres, Matt Meyer, Sarah Angermeyer and Tabitha Sims.

Bob Hogan, a Charlotte resident who was in a World Trade Center tower during the attacks, will speak about his experience and answer questions. Hogan is a parishioner at St. Mark Catholic Church.

"He tells the story of recognizing how the Lord saved him, and by the grace of God he's still here," Herzing said. "He talks about recognizing where God is working every day in our lives."

Youth leaders hope today's service will an opportunity for the community to come together to remember and recognize how it has affected people.

"The event on 9-11was a tragic occurrence," wrote Sims, an 11th grader at Hickory Ridge High School. "Most feelings you possess when you hear about this horrible day are hatred, but as a Catholic I believe we need to look at this with the eyes of forgiveness."

The Sept. 11 service is open to the community and will be at St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church, 1400 Suther Road.