A New York City first responder during the al-Qaeda coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 revealed in a short documentary how he found God in the midst of the chaos and reminded the need to "be people of hope" during such circumstances because "God is ultimately in control."
Aleteia highlighted the video story of former New York City Fire Department Captain Thomas Colucci, who was among those who initially responded when the 19 Islamist militants undertook the "airline hijackings and suicide attacks" that has been regarded as the "deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil in U.S. history."
Aleteia disclosed how Colucci's life was forever changed by the incident for it draw him closer to God--so close he became a priest after retiring from his post.
"September 11 changed Fr. Tom Colucci's life forever. An NYFD captain, he saw his men die, including their chaplain Fr. Michael Judge who was giving a fire man Last Rites," Aleteia announced.
"He decided to become a priest to continue serving people, body and soul," the news organization added.
Colucci's short videoclip in Instagram, which was taken from one of the 18 features released by Aleteia for its Look Up Stories of Hope web series launched in November 2018, was viewed almost 15,000 times in the 24 hours since it was posted on Wednesday.
"I saw the worst of humanity on that day but I also saw the best of humanity on that day. I say it inspired me to be a priest 'cause I saw in this tragedy that we were involved in something larger than our little world. We're all connected in one big human family. There is something larger, there is another purpose in this life," Colucci remarked.
"Our Lord suffered greatly, so we always have to have hope that we're part of a larger picture in life. We all have tragedies and disappointments in life but we always have to have hope. Be people of hope and to trust the God is ultimately in control," he underscored.
In the 5-minute mini-documentary published on April 2019, Colucci narrated what transpired on that fateful day of the Twin Tower attack in New York. He said he has already gotten off work and was on his way home when he heard about the attacks. He then turned around as soon as all police officers and firemen were asked to respond to the scene.
"I got relieved at the firehouse and I was on my way home when I heard about the horrific attacks. They recalled all the cops and firemen to the scene. So I turned around, got back into the city, and reported to my firehouse. We grabbed our gear, then we ran down to the West Side Highway to the scene. We went to the South Tower and started digging through the rubble looking for any kind of bodies or recovery that we could do and while we were on the scene, the second tower came down," Colucci said.
Colucci recalled that the collapse of the second tower resulted in the loss of the lives of his men and their chaplain, Fr. Michael Judge, who was present giving last rites to a fireman, while they were on the eastern side of the area aboard the firetruck referred to as "Ladder 3". He disclosed that he used to ride in Ladder 3 when he "worked in Manhattan." He emphasized that he knew each one of the firemen who "died that day."
According to Colucci, who now is the pastor of the Most Precious Blood Parish in Walden, New York, the most striking images he remembers on that day was what prompted him to become a priest eventually, calling it as the deciding factor that fully confirmed his long-time desire to be a priest. He cited images of people responding to the scene that he regarded as Christ's presence during the tragedy. He also revealed that God was the sustaining force that enabled them to answer to the needs of the community for almost a year.
"I guess the most impressive images I can think of was just how people responded in the scene. There were firemen, there were police officers, there were ambulance workers, doctors, nurses, a lot of people came to help on the scene. They all responded," Colucci shared.
"Everybody said, 'Where was Christ that day?' That was the Body of Christ! Christ was in all those people. Everybody that showed up that day. He was with us in our grief and our sorrow," he stressed. "I think it was the Lord, the Spirit that helped to sustain us to get through the tragedy, to dig through the rubble for nine months, to go through all those funerals, and the grief and sadness that were involved. So I think God was definitely with us on that day."