As they mourn the loss of retired priest Francis Grogan on September 11, parishioners at Holy Cross Catholic Church in South Easton, Massachusetts, say they will always remember the warmth and gentleness of a man they called "Father Frank."

Grogan, 76, who was on United Flight 175, was traveling from Boston to Los Angeles to visit his sister. He was 76. The jet was the second to crash into the World Trade Center last Tuesday morning.

"Father Frank was a man of simplicity and of great prayer," says Father John Santone, the associate pastor at the church and a fellow member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. "He was compassionate, loving, a truly understanding man who took people as they were and did everything he could to bring them closer to God."

More than 1,600 priests and brothers are part of the order, which was founded in France in 1837 and is active in 15 countries. Its members serve primarily in high schools and colleges, as well as in parish ministry.

Anne Tarallo, the church's office manager and a parishioner since 1995, described Grogan as "the epitome of a priest."

"He was a wonderful, warm, gentle man," she says.

Tarallo says Grogan served as the church's parochial vicar for six years and remained active in the area after his retirement in 1997.

"He was busier afterwards, helping out in all the area parishes," Tarallo says.

Santone says the grief of the 1,850 families in the church tempered by fond memories of Grogan.

"I think the attitude in our parish is, 'Weren't [those people on the plane] lucky to have him on board?'" Santone says. "He probably was on that plane, leading them in prayer."

Related Elsewhere

See the Web site for Holy Cross Catholic Church.

Christianity Today's other articles on the attacks include:

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