New York City, N.Y., May 3, 2017 / 11:02 am
On September 11, 2001, Justine Cuccia was nine months pregnant when she watched in horror as two hijacked planes crash into the World Trade Center buildings in New York City.
Her neighborhood, Battery Park City, was just across the street, including her parish, St. Joseph's chapel, located in the bottom of an apartment building along with coffee shops and other storefronts.
In the weeks following the disaster, the small chapel became a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) command station. First responders tore out the pews to provide a space for food, shelter and counseling for the next several weeks of clean-up. Even the altar cloths were torn up and used as bandages. Priests of St. Joseph's celebrated Mass in a nearby gym.
Afterwards, the chapel's interior, severely damaged by the smoke, debris, and the nature of the work in the command center, needed a complete remodeling, which a group of dedicated parishioners saw to completion by the next year.
Today, the chapel itself is in danger. High rent could force the closure of the chapel and the corresponding Catholic memorial to 9/11 unless an agreement is reached or a "miracle" happens.