It’s a beautiful September morning. Maryknoll Fr. Ray Nobiletti had just celebrated 8 o’clock Mass in Transfiguration Church in Lower Manhattan. The primary election for the Mayor of New York City was that day and the elementary school at Transfiguration was buzzing with the start of brand new school year. In fact it was the children’s 2nd day of school. The date is September 11, 2001.
After Mass Fr. Nobiletti received a phone call and was informed that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, a building he always enjoyed looking at from his bedroom window, and he was asked if he could go immediately to the burning building to help minister to the wounded.
Barely having time to collect his thoughts, let alone his stole, prayer book, and holy oils, Fr. Nobiletti proceeded into the chaos of what would become known as one of the worst tragedies the United States has ever seen.
As tens of thousands of people are trying to escape Lower Manhattan, Fr. Nobiletti is walking in that direction. With people grabbing on to him, screaming, and crying it didn’t matter whether you were Catholic or not that day. He didn’t know it at the time but his presence became a beacon of light in the blackness, dust, and tragedy of that day.