He lost his religion on 9/11, but this pope may restore his faith

Kathleen O’Brien   NJ.com 

Jim Giaccone lost two things on September 11th – his older brother, Joe, from Monroe Twp., and his faith. People offered condolences in the weeks after the attacks, but none of their cliches – “God took him for a reason” – answered his central question: Why?”

“On September 11th, a lot of people went toward the church, and a lot of people went away. I was in that latter group,” he said Friday after he left Ground Zero.

Joseph Giaccone worked at Cantor Fitzgerald as the head of telecommunications when he was killed at the age of 43, leaving behind a wife and two children. The family had just moved into their new Monroe, N.J., home a few months before his death.

His brother Jim has kept active as a volunteer for Tuesday’s Child [sic – Tuesday’s Children], the charity for children who lost a parent that day, but still felt a spiritual void, he said. He applied for tickets to see Pope Francis so he could take his 86-year-old aunt, who goes to church every day – or at least that’s the excuse he gave himself, he said.

“…today, I saw beauty.”

He called the service “near-perfect.” The Muslim imam was so eloquent, Giaccone said, he wanted to leap onstage and hug him – and this from a man who said he harbored deep resentment toward Muslims for a long time.

“I go down to Ground Zero with a heavy heart all the time,” he said, “but today, I saw beauty,” he said. This pope – with his message of peace and inclusion – has made a fan out of Giaccone.

“I really like this pope. He exudes welcome,” he said. “So, you never know: He might be the catalyst to renew or invigorate my faith.”

Here’s Giaccone talking about the recurring nightmare – and resolution of it – he experienced after his brother’s death, told to an audience as part of the Moth series of public story-telling.


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