Ed. Note: Below is the text of the opening of the interfaith prayer service we co-sponsored on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It was delivered by Scott Wright and Jean Stokan, both former Pax Christi USA National Council members. Among the speakers during the prayer service were Pax Christi USA Teachers of Peace Kathy Kelly and Colleen Kelly. Other Pax Christi USA members who led or spoke at the service included Judith Kelly, Pax Christi USA National Council member Josephine Garnem, Bob More, and Dan Moriarty. Special thanks to lead organizer Bob Cooke of Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore.

Links to photos and the video of the service are at the bottom of this page.


We would like to invite you to join us in remembering where you were today, twenty years ago …

Many of you were in New York City on 9/11; in the months and years that followed, some of you traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo.

In the days immediately following 9/11, my family and our three-year-old daughter took the train to New York City. We spent the entire day accompanying family members of the victims in Washington Square and Union Square. Everywhere you could see little altars, with vigil lights, flowers, pictures of loved ones, and messages scribbled on poster board: “Have you seen my father? My brother? My daughter?” They were on the 71st floor, the 32nd floor, and wearing this or that…”

In that brief period between 9/11 and October 7, when the bombs began to fall on Afghanistan, people in cities across the United States and the globe marched with a clear message: “Our grief is not a cry for war.”

Today we come together as a global community united in sorrow, as we accompany American, Afghan, and Iraqi families who lost loved ones on 9/11 and in the wars that followed. For these families, the war is not over. Their grief and their cries continue to pierce our hearts, echoed in these words from Scripture:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

As people of many faiths, and people of good will and compassionate hearts, we share a common hope for Peace, Salaam, Shalom. May we do everything in our power to protect human life, welcome refugees, challenge militarism across the globe, and recommit ourselves to nonviolence, knowing that violence and war are always a defeat for humanity.

In the days immediately following 9/11, Rep. Barbara Lee cast the only vote in Congress against going to war in Afghanistan. Pivotal to her decision was attending a memorial service where a clergy member said: “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.”

Another powerful and courageous witness was provided by the family members of the victims of 9/11, who came together to found September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. We will hear from 2 of their members, Colleen Kelly & Christa Galvin.

Colleen lost her beloved brother Bill in the Twin Towers. As the U.S. Catholic bishops were planning to meet that November to prepare a pastoral statement on 9/11, she wrote to Bishop Tom Gumbleton of Pax Christi USA to support his passionate plea to his fellow bishops to prophetically speak out against the war.

I watched Bishop Gumbleton on the floor of that bishops meeting pull out his letter from Colleen. A pin could have dropped. Some excerpts:

There is no scale on which my family can begin to measure our loss. Nor are there any words to adequately express our sorrow. My family is quite clear however that we would never want another family, whether Afghan or American, to feel the way we do now.”

In January 2002, four family members from Peaceful Tomorrows traveled to Afghanistan with Global Exchange to meet Afghan family members who were grieving their loved ones killed in the U.S. bombing attacks. By that time, at least 3,700 Afghan civilians had been killed in the bombings. The visit was a moving gesture of solidarity to say, “Never Again!” to war.

When we touch the wounds of war, of suffering, when we draw close to those wounds, and pray for wisdom from God, from the Creator of Life, something transforms into a profound call to nonviolence and a deep love for all peoples.   

May we continue to draw close. Let it be so.

More from the service:

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