Editor's note:
The Rev. Richard Del Rio is the head of Abounding Grace Ministries in New York City and was among the first pastors on site after the World Trade Center towers collapsed on September 11. He ministered among firefighters, police, and rescue workers. He described his experiences for ct senior news writer Tony Carnes at the Port Authority Police Crisis Command Post at Ground Zero. Across from them stood a chart listing missing officers and recovered dead officers. The chart included a prayer writ large: "Lord, my brothers have lost their way. Give me the strength to bring them home."

I always ask the local police precinct where the toughest drug-crime corners are and then set up our ministry truck right there.

So, when the World Trade Center towers were attacked, I instinctively thought that that was the place where I could pastor effectively. Besides, our ministry's trucks feature the towers outlined in red, and as a construction-company owner, I had helped to build the towers. It was personal. That's my building and those were our guys getting destroyed out there.

I dropped my toast, ran out and jumped on my big hog, a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide. On the way, I put on my pastor's collar and police identification tag.

Ash, Debris, and Fire Hoses

Coming down FDR Drive on the east side of Manhattan, I rolled through the smoke at Houston Street, then the ash piled up, beginning at the Fulton Street Fish Market. Rolling off the drive, I parked my hog because there were too many obstructions for a cycle.

Right away, a cop came running up. "Father, can you come over here and bless these body parts?"

He had mistaken me for a priest, but I came over. There was a torso, a detached head, shoulders, and a leg all piled up. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.