Following the Divine Liturgy marking the feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, celebrated on September 11, 2018, Archpriest Daniel Andrejuk, Dean of the Orthodox Church in America’s Representation Church of the Great Martyr Catherine, Moscow, Russia, offered memorial prayers for the thousands of innocent victims who lost their lives in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Among those who attended the services were the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Russian Federation, John Huntsman and his wife; the Apostolic Nuncio in Russia, Archbishop Celestino Migliore; the Rev. Michael Raine, who ministers to the Roman Catholic community at the US Embassy; and representatives of Canada.
After welcoming his guests, Father Daniel read a message from His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon.
“Once again we have gathered in community, here at the Representation Church of the Orthodox Church in America, to offer our prayers for all who perished on that awful Tuesday, September 11, seventeen years ago today,” Metropolitan Tikhon’s message read. “Among them were men and women representing different religions, races, and nations, yet sharing a common humanity, and therefore reflecting the image and likeness of God. May the memories of those who lost their lives on that day at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and on Flight 93, be eternal, and may we also remember in our prayers all those who, as a result of the actions on that day, and in defense of country against barbarous terrorists, have sacrificed their lives. We also offer our prayers for the loved ones and friends whose lives were forever changed on that tragic day.
“There is no place in our modern world that is safe from the evils of terrorism and the actions of deranged people whose hearts lack the love of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Metropolitan Tikhon continued. “As Orthodox Christians we confess and witness a Christ Whose love has released us from the bondage of death—‘Christ is risen and death reigns no more’ as our hymns remind us. As Orthodox Christians, we know that we are called to actively bring the love, goodness, and healing of Christ to a fallen world. May He strengthen all of us for this sacred task.
“Having recently commemorated the 14th Anniversary of the murder of innocent children and adults on the opening day of school in Beslan, we are reminded that Russians and Americans share in a common experience of tragedy, terrorism and pain,” Metropolitan Tikhon added. “But as Orthodox Christians we know that we are also bound in a deeper way by the life-saving power of the Cross and resurrection of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, and through Him we enjoy a bond of faith, brotherhood and unity unlike any other.
“We are thankful to be joined in our prayer by the Papal Nuncio, His Eminence, Archbishop Celetino Migliore, as well as the Ambassador of the United States, Mr. John Huntsman, and representatives of the Canadian Embassy. Please know that the doors of Saint Catherine’s are always open to you and those under your care here in Moscow,” Metropolitan Tikhon concluded. “May the Lord remember all those departed this life in His Kingdom, may He grant them eternal rest, and may He continue to bestow His peace and comfort on their families and loved ones.”
In response, Ambassador Huntsman stressed that the tragedy that occurred 17 years ago shocked the whole world. He especially recalled that Russia’s leaders were among the first to express condolences to the people of America as the tragedy unfolded. He went on to recall how thousands of people at that time brought flowers and other mementos to the US Embassy in Moscow. In conclusion, he emphasized that the tragic events of 2001 and in the years that followed continue to serve as a call to strengthen the unity of the world community in the fight against the threat of terrorism.
After ringing the bell in the memorial tower at Saint Catherine’s, erected in memory of the 9/11 attacks, a minute of silence was observed.