9/11 Catholic Memorial at St. Peter’s Church Offers Place to Reflect


A 9/11 Catholic Memorial is in front of St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street in Manhattan, just a short walk from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum located at the site of the World Trade Center.

Parishioners and visitors come to the site to pray and remember the victims, workers and first responders of 9/11 as they will Sept. 11 when Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen, vicar for clergy, will celebrate a 9/11 Memorial Mass inside the historic church at 4 p.m. 

Four bronze statues by artist John Collier, blessed by Cardinal Dolan in 2018, are outside on the church steps as part of the 9/11 Catholic Memorial, which was relocated to St. Peter’s when St. Joseph’s Chapel closed. 

The statues are of St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of police officers; St. Florian, patron saint of firefighters and EMS workers; St. Mary Magdalene, first witness to the Resurrection; and St. Joseph, patron saint of workers.

Father Jarlath Quinn, pastor of St. Peter and Our Lady of the Rosary parish since 2016, told CNY his message for parishioners at Masses on the 9/11 weekend is exemplified by the St. Mary Magdalene statue.

“The proclamation of the Resurrection, that’s the message we’ll be proclaiming as well as offering words of comfort to those who were affected and the families who are still grieving,” Father Quinn said. “For us as Christians, we believe life has changed, not ended, with death. 

“It’s our belief in the Resurrection that helps us to move forward.”

St. Peter’s, founded on the same site in 1785, was the first Roman Catholic parish established in New York state. Venerable Pierre Toussaint was a parishioner of St. Peter’s. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint, made her profession of faith and received her first Holy Communion at St. Peter’s; Venerable Father Félix Varela served two years as a parish priest; and Adelaide O’Sullivan was baptized in the church and later became Servant of God Carmelite Mother Adelaide of St. Teresa.

Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., founder of the University of Notre Dame, celebrated his first Mass in the United States at St. Peter’s after he and six Holy Cross Brothers arrived in New York Harbor in 1842.

The church also has historic artwork such as the four bronze statues in the 9/11 Catholic Memorial, a statue of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and The Crucifixion painting over the main altar by Mexican artist Jose Valleo, a gift from Archbishop Nunez de Haro of Mexico City in 1789.

“It’s as historic as you can get,” said Cardinal Dolan in his social media video series, “Cardinal Dolan’s New York.” “This was the only Catholic Church in New York. There weren’t too many Catholics, but if they were here in the early days, they came to St. Peter’s parish.”