By Stephen McKinley
An Irish American Franciscan chaplain at Ground Zero has made
a public request that the piece of steel debris that resembles
a Christian cross be kept as part of the final World Trade Center
Father Brian Jordan has been ministering to firefighters, iron
workers and emergency service personnel since Sept. 11, and was
shown the cross by
Frank Silecchia, a construction worker, who discovered the T-beam
cross on Sept 13 in the rubble of World Trade Center 6. Silecchia
reported having a profound religious experience, as did Jordan
when he saw the cross.
"I think it should be part of the final memorial," he told the
Echo. "First of all, it is an artifact of Ground Zero, and secondly,
it is scared ground, for God's sake."
Jordan has written letters to New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevy and
New York Gov. George Pataki, who both responded positively, he
said, but made no further commitment as yet. He also started a
petition on June 2, which is circulating in the metropolitan area.
"I had a profound religious experience as well," said Jordan,
describing how he saw the cross for the first time. "My heart
was pounding, there were tears in my eyes, there was a silence
for a time, and then I just started giving out communion to those
Jordan said that the Christian symbol must be part of the memorial
because most of the victims were Christian, "the plurality of
which were Catholic, and the majority of the rescue workers were
Catholic as well. The Irish took the biggest hit."
"We didn't find any artifacts of the Star of David for Jewish
people or the Crescent for Muslims as yet," he said. "Of course,
this was not built as a cross," he continued. "It is a T-beam,
found in every one of the buildings destroyed at the World Trade
Jordan said that the cross was about 20 feet tall with the cross
beam being six to seven feet across.
"It is at the corner of Church and Cortlandt Streets," he explained.
"I was just down there today. A lot of visitors and tourists take
pictures of it. They find great comfort looking at it.
Jordan said that he had been at Ground Zero since Sept. 11,
and "many people were asking me, 'Why did God do this?' and I
said, 'God does not destroy, God creates.' "
Jordan said that when he saw the cross for the first time, "there
was my answer."
"This is not just for Christians or Catholics," Jordan said.
"This is a sign of faith. That is why I have called the cross
the Healing Cross of America."