It was a Tuesday, September 11 five years
ago. That morning, 19 men hijacked
passenger jet airliners and crashed
the Twin Towers in New York City, in
Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. A confirmed
2,973 people died and another 24 remain
as missing to this day as a result
I watched these events that changed
of our history, in Malta. The next
went to Rome to start discussing the
Seminary's possible affiliation to
University. It was there, in the square
Saint John Lateran Basilica, that I
the news that Frank was missing.
Frank Palombo was one of the 343 firefighters
reported missing while rescuing survivors
from the World Trade Center.
We kept hoping that he will somehow
from all the bedlam that erupted. He
a wife and ten children, eight boys
girls; the eldest 15, the youngest
was the responsible of the first ever
community in the United States at Saint
Parish in New York. He was a dear dear
He did not come back. They never even
a trace of him.
"On October 2, I returned to Ground
Zero with my catechists, and only then
I able to tell my children that their
had died," recounts Jean, his
Twelve year old Joey spoke up. "I
like to see the smile on his face when
make him proud", Joey remarked.
was tough," said Jean.
"I miss Frank terribly and a cry
but I know that he will continue to
us from heaven," Jean says today.
am praying for more profound intimacy
Christ, because I am sure it will bring
beautiful fruits as the ones that resulted
from my intimacy with Frank."
"Frank transmitted the faith to
children, and they often console me
a word," she continues. "The
are happy because of the father they
but they miss not being able to play
him, not being able to pray with him,
being able to learn with him, and not
able to be with him.
"I am afraid, but I cling to the
Now we will continue, in the Church,
More faith… "I think God works
good of those who love him. This event
been a great evil. But God's love has
this evil. When I think of the terrorists,
I can only say: 'Father, forgive them,
they do not know what they have done.'"
"If a New York mosque was burning
there were Taliban members inside,
his brothers would have gone in and
their lives", Jean says convincingly.
"They were not into politics -
were into saving lives. Frank would
said: "It's an honor to love your
It was not always like this. "Seventeen
years ago, I had left the Church. I
want any children; my marriage was
up little by little," she recalls.
day, Frank invited me to hear some
I said to him: 'It's the last thing
do in the Catholic Church'."
"That night I witnessed Christianity
in an itinerant couple who were expecting
their fourth child. They had left everything
-- home, careers, their country --
the Gospel. I thought: 'God loves me
that he has inspired in someone this
so that I could hear the Good News,'"
"When I saw that love, I realized
that I didn't have that love, not even
my husband," she recalled. "In
a catechesis immediately after, I heard
[the catechist] say: 'Do you think,
that God is a monster that you do not
his will to be done in your life?'
my life, and today, with 10 children,
say that God knew the desires of my
Jean told me that she once looked down
dinner table and caught him weeping,
so fortunate to have all these children,'
he said! When friends teased Frank
fathering 10 children, he would reply
a grin, "I want more."
"So much is being said about what
of memorial to build on that spot.
the cross is enough," Jean Palombo
during a memorial service last year.
"My husband is helping me. His
is stronger every day. The Lord has
faithful with Frank, with me, and with
of us who are faithful to Him. Every
I think that I am a widow, I have ten
and a broken arm, and I can't make
God says, 'That's right Jean, you can't,
but I can, and I will.' And He does,
"Once Jesus met a woman and simply
her, "Woman, do not weep!"
is a gaze and a heart that penetrates
your very marrow and loves you all
to your destiny, a gaze and a heart
… no one can render powerless! There
that can suspend that immediate rush
…" (Luigi Guissani)
HE loves you Jean. HE loves you Frank.
a gift to have known you!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright