A huge American flag framed by two fire trucks on Cathedral Square in Grand Rapids, Mich., made the gathering unmistakable as members of different religious and ethnic groups as well as public servants gathered in the square for an interfaith remembrance of 9/11.
The Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths were represented, Native Americans put on song and drum performance, and there were readings in Spanish punctuated with music from an interfaith choir. The Boy Scouts of Grand Rapids, Salvation Army and representatives from the President Gerald R. Ford Museum were among the 400 people gathered in the square. Also present was Grand Rapids Mayor and minister George Heartwell.
“The Jewish prayers included a blowing of the Shofar, some Hebrew, and a large amount of English,” said Father John Geaney, CSP, rector of the Cathedral of St. Andrew, which is under the pastoral care of the Paulist Fathers. “Our Muslim brother prayed from the Koran in Arabic and was praying beyond that in English. We prayed for the first responders, for those who had died, and for those who grieve.”
The readings, prayers and music were followed by first-responder vehicles being blessed by each member of the clergy gathered on the curb of Cathedral Square as the vehicles drove by with lights flashing.
“The Hindus threw rice and flowers, the natives “smudged”, several minsiters stood with hands outstretched, some just bowed quietly, and I was sprinkling a whole lot of holy water as the vehicles passed by,” said Father Geaney.
Following the vehicles was a small honor guard of US Marines in dress uniform who lead those gathered in the square in a walk to the President Ford Museum. The distance between the two points is equivalent to the distance it took to get away from the effluvia that came from the collapsing towers in New York in 2001, according to Father Geaney.
“It was a great day for the Public Square and the Paulist mission of evangelization, reconciliation, ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue,” Father Geaney concluded.
Contact: Stefani Manowski