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By David Riley

The following Links for Learners study guide is based on an article in the St. Anthony Messenger online edition. It is designed for young Catholics, particularly those in high school.

Links for Learners | September 2003

St. Peter's Parish: Death and Resurrection at Ground Zero



Finding Curriculum Connections
Understanding Basic Terms
Learning Moments
Formed by Faith
Acting in Faith
Related Links
Research Resources

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Links for Learning

Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Students and Their Teachers

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:

• Church history—history of the Church in the United States
• Faith in action—practical spirituality
• The Paschal Mystery—new life from death
• The Church in service to the world
• Current events—war on terrorism

Understanding Basic Terms in This Month’s Article

Look for these key words and terms as you read the article.  Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout the Link for Learners. 




Praying for the dead

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)


Martial law

St. Florian

St. Michael

St. Mary Magdalene

St. Joseph


Learning Moments

The following offer some ideas for using this month’s article in the context of a religion lesson or a lesson for another curricular subject area. The events of September 11, 2001, remain painful for everyone. As a teacher you can use your best judgment as to how to approach the memory of this fateful day.

This month’s article tells some of the human stories of faith that continue to inspire us long after the events of that terrible day. While our nation wages a military war on terrorism and scrambles to regain some measure of security in an uncertain world, there stand in contrast some simple accounts of human bravery, generosity and self-sacrifice that offer us a strength and confidence that no amount of military might can buy. This Paschal significance that is at the heart of the Gospel—the dying and rising that each of us experiences every day of our lives—may be one of the greatest lessons that comes from the 9/11 disaster. You can explore this with your students in the article this month.



Ask your students to recall where they were and what they were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. They might want to share this with one other person or in some other way such as journal writing.

Ask them if they or someone they know has ever experienced some tragedy that also brought out a deep care and concern for people, brought out their generosity and self-sacrifice, or caused them to feel a bond between one another that would never have happened without this tragedy.

For reflection:

Why is it that strangers can be thrown together by the most unlikely of circumstances, and in moments of life and death, exhibit remarkable courage, self-sacrifice and often experience a profound connection with one another?


Formed by Faith

When he was informed that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, Father Mychal Judge, fire chaplain for the city of New York, rushed to the scene of the disaster, along with hundreds of firefighters and emergency crews. What makes people rush toward danger rather than flee from it? What would have been your first instinct? Do you think you would have rushed to the scene?

Why did the firefighters and police officers treat the body of Father Judge so reverently and with such care?

The article draws some obvious parallels between Father Judge and the image of the body of Jesus. What similarities, if any, do you see between the deaths of the two men?

Read from Scripture and reflect on the passage: John 12:24-26. What does it say to you about the meaning of life, about the meaning of Jesus’ death?

From the article about St. Peter’s, do you see any “fruit” that has come from the tragedy of 9/11?

Read from Scripture: John 15:13. What is Jesus asking of us in this passage?

Since the terrible disaster of 9/11 there have been many pleas and requests for prayers for those who were lost. Many Christian but non-Catholic groups objected to what they consider an unscriptural and therefore heretical teaching. The basis in Catholicism for praying for those who have died is rooted in the Church’s teaching on purgatory. What does the Catholic Church teach about the value and meaning of praying for the dead and why? Read an explanation of purgatory and praying for the dead.

Acting in Faith

There are many powerful symbols of faith in the article. What are some of them, and which ones stand out for you in the article?

What role should the Church play in the world in times of human crisis and disaster?

Do you see it playing this role in the world in other situations?

In the article, the artist, John Collier remarks that memorials can only say, “Remember.” But, he says, Our Lord offers us more than just “remember.” What is this more that faith in Christ brings us?

Reflect and Act: In thinking about your own life, what are some ways that you can demonstrate the strength and power of vulnerability and weakness in some of the situations in your life?


Related Links:

An article about St. Peter’s Church written in 2002. It contains more quotes from Fr. Madigan along with accounts of the transformation that has taken place in the parish since 9/11.

The engineering of the World Trade Center and why it collapsed.

An article containing more background and reflection on the Catholic doctrine of purgatory.

At this site students can contribute their thoughts, poems and feelings toward a memorial of the event.

A remarkable collection of photographs of the disaster from photographer James Nachtwey.

A vast library of information about September 11.

Ten ideas for social justice after 9/11.

Explanation of the meaning of the term Paschal Mystery in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Research Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further general reference.  Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives.

The New York Times

The Los Angeles Times

The Chicago Tribune

The Washington Post

The Miami Herald

The Associated Press

Time Magazine



ABC News

Channel One—online resource for the school channel

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