Interfaith Service Commemorates Lives Lost on 9/11

Amanda Golden

“Love in action is a harsh and dread­ful thing compared with love in dreams.” These were the words that rang out dur­ing the Interfaith 9/11 Memorial Service this Sunday in the Colgate Memorial Chapel. University Chaplain and Catho­lic Campus Minister Mark Shiner quoted this line from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov when addressing the events that had taken place ten years earli­er. The service, which ran for about a half an hour, was just one of the many events planned in honor of 9/11 linked with the Interfaith Youth Core Initiative.

Both leaders and members of many of Colgate’s religious communities spoke out at the service, which included a chant by members of the Hindu Student Association, a reading of scripture by a representative of the Christian community and the sharing of a passage from the Quran.

“We wanted to get a group of folks from around campus to gather together to com­memorate the day,” Shiner said of the service. “There are obviously a lot of commemora­tions happening, but we wanted to have something that the students could come to to remember and to reflect and hopefully to motivate them to go and do something good to repair the world and bring healing to the broader community.”

With the palpable religious angle at the service, Shiner explained that the interfaith approach has been how the university honors the day.

“The archives of the services that we have done at Colgate for all ten years have been run by the Chaplains as interfaith services,” Shiner said. “This has been our impulse from the get go. I think it’s in some ways a recogni­tion that on a college campus it’s one of the few places where you can get everybody to­gether without it being a huge brouhaha. In a lot of ways it’s an exercise of what used to be called civil religion, and the idea of everybody being able to get together…that’s a value that has gone by the wayside.”

Shiner also commented that peoples’ views on religious coexistence have changed, especially during the decade following the tragic events.

“We went through an era of believing that everyone could believe the same thing,” Shiner said. “Then we went through an era where we realized that we couldn’t, and now we are coming into an era where we realize even though we maybe can’t all pray together, we have to do something together.” Protes­tant Campus Minister Putter Cox echoed Shiner’s call.

“The content of our faiths are distinct, but we need to do things together and re­spect that,” Cox said. “That’s really what America was founded on, the idea of plural­ism – maintain our distinctiveness, but do things together. I believe that we have a great sense of camaraderie among the faith groups in the Chaplains office, and so the initiative is about doing acts of service and talking to one another about our distinct faiths and why we do what we do.”

Cox explained that in past years, the Chapel would host a brief commemorative service on its steps on 9/11 around 9 a.m., roughly the time when the planes hit. “This was the first time, on the 10th anniversary, when we did a commemorative service,” Cox said. “I was very pleased by the turnout here.”

In terms of peoples’ reactions now versus ten years ago, some believe that the emotions have shifted away from resentment.

“I really think that having that decade of remove has made a huge difference in terms of anxiety and in terms of anger,” Associate Chaplain and Director of Jewish Life Deena Bodian said. “I went to a school that was founded by Quakers, and I can still remem­ber how angry everyone was about 9/11, and that was really scary to see. My sense is that you won’t see that today on a college campus, and I think that’s great. I can’t tell if it’s al­ways going to be the case with college cam­puses, but as we get further removed from that moment students have younger and younger memories from that point.”

First-year Caitlin Sackrison attended both the Chapel’s service and the event following at the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE), in which students wrote letters to soldiers serving overseas.

“I think that the service went rather well,” Sackrison said. “I liked that it wasn’t too long…I think there were times that were some­what not as impactful as they could have been, but I really liked how they had all the different religions speaking. At the COVE event I just wrote things like who I am and ‘Thank you for helping our country,’ and I hope that they un­derstand that they’ve helped us a lot and that today is a very special day.”

Sackrison noted that there was a definite presence of the events’ affect on campus.

“It’s definitely stronger here,” Sackrison said of 9/11’s impact on campus life. “Be­ing from Minnesota, we talk about it, but we’re so distant that there’s not much to talk about. There were people that I talked to in the COVE that were on the site. For me, it was definitely more impactful being in New York state on the anniversary of September 11.”

Contact Amanda Golden at [email protected]