St. Francis’ annual 9/11 commemoration event on tap this weekend

John Peters purchases vegetables from Caroline Zuk of Saja Farm’s 9/11 Farmer’s Market to benefit the parish’s Homeless Ministry

DRACUT — An act of kindness can go a long way in life.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish of Dracut invites all to join the parish community this weekend for their annual commemoration of the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.

School children of all ages are invited to wear their school backpacks to Masses at 4 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 7, and at 8:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Sun. Sept. 8.

The Rev. Seán Maher, administrator, will bestow blessings on the students and their backpacks as the new school year begins.

Teachers are also invited to all Masses this weekend as Maher will extend special blessings to teachers of all schools and grade levels, from pre-school to college.

The event is held in memory of Capt. John Ogonowski, a 9/11 American Airlines pilot and parishioner of St. Francis Parish, as students are welcome to bring in their backpacks one or two items for End 68 Hours of Hunger. End 68 Hours of Hunger is a Dracut nonprofit that packs backpacks with food for children at risk of hunger on weekends.

Ogonowski was known for being kind to others, especially immigrant farmers whom he welcomed to his White Gate Farm in Dracut to learn about farming on American soil and building a livelihood in a new country.

As part of “Be Kind like the Captain” and a Corporal Work of Mercy in the Catholic faith to feed the hungry, children will be invited to the altar during the offertory to put their food donations in baskets for the 50-plus Dracut schoolchildren in the End 68 Hours program.

“It is good that this day has become a day of prayer, volunteering, service and remembrance.  Here, God can draw good out of evil,” Maher said. “It is good to remember and imitate the good actions of people like Captain John Ogonowski rather than being consumed by the evil actions that would make it a day to live in infamy.”

Last year’s 9/11 Apple Pie Sale on the Plaza to benefit the parish’s Homeless Ministry; from left, Patrick Bernard, Bill Bernard, Laurie Bernard, Patti Poirier and Jan Dargue sell apple pies on the plaza

The annual 9/11 Apple Pie Sale by the St. Francis Homeless Ministry and 9/11 Farmer’s Market by Saja Farm will take place after the Saturday 4 p.m. Mass and the Sunday  a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses.  In memory of Ogonowski and all who died on 9/11, proceeds benefit the parish’s St. Teresa of Calcutta Homeless Ministry, which ministers to the homeless of Lowell every Saturday.

Over 200 pies will be baked by the homeless ministry and other parish volunteers on Friday night, said Maher. Pie sales will take place while they last.

After the 10:30 a.m. family Mass on Sunday, Sept. 8, all are welcome to stay for refreshments on the plaza and children’s games and activities on the front lawn.