By Colleen Rowan To mark the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and to offer comfort in the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, St. Francis Xavier Parish in Parkersburg will host a special memorial service. “Finding Hope in Loss” will be an ecumenical prayer service for the community held at St. Francis Xavier Church at 9:59 a.m. on Sept. 11. There will be a moment in the service for each participant to bring an item that represents his or her loss to be blessed. “Please bring an item that you wish to bring forth during the service to represent the loss(es) you have experienced,” parish officials said. “Your item should be able to be easily carried into the church and laid at the temporary memorial.” There will also be prayer intention cards available in the church for one’s memorial to be recorded and left at the altar of the Lord. As the country marks 20 years since the terrorist attacks in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa., in which almost 3,000 people were killed and with the recent loss of family and friends that many have suffered in the pandemic, Father John Rice hopes the service will bring comfort to the community. “Our faith reminds us that suffering need not have the last word, and we want to bring the hope instilled by faith to all of our losses,” said Father Rice, pastor of St. Francis Xavier. “We can bring our memories, our losses, and our pains to Jesus Christ, asking him to bless them that we might find new life in the suffering that we have known. Our Catholic Christian faith places hope in God, that he can resurrect not only our mortal bodies on the last day, but by offering these very real sufferings to him, bring about something beautiful in the face of ugliness. Resurrection can do that.” The idea of having a prayer service to mark the anniversary of Sept. 11 and offering comfort as the pandemic continues, came to Father Rice earlier this summer. He and other parishioners, he said, knew that they wanted to have a memorial event for the parish as the country began to emerge from these past 19 months of the pandemic. “When I looked at the calendar for scheduling, I wanted to wait until late summer in hopes of more people being able and comfortable attending,” Father Rice said. “It was then that it struck me that this year would be 20 years since those life changing events of Sept. 11, 2001.” It also struck him that both the pandemic and the terrorist attacks were changed everyday life not just for individuals, but in the ways that they have and will change society, he said. “Every person in our country and the world has been affected by both events,” Father Rice said. Discussions then began among the Pastoral Council, Liturgy group, and Activities and Events committee to hold an event to recognize the loss the nation still feels from the attacks of Sept. 11 and to acknowledge the losses many have suffered from COVID-19. “While each was intensely personal, both are communal in that we all suffer,” Father Rice said. “Inviting the larger community was only natural, so we are inviting other local ministers to participate.” For more information about the service, call the parish at (304) 422-6786.