The Bells of Remembrance are a gift from the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province.
These Bells of Remembrance first rang after September 11, 2001, to honor Father Mychal Judge, O.F.M., a Franciscan friar who was the first casualty and served at Siena in the 1970’s before going on to serve as chaplain for the New York City Fire Department.
When planes hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Father Mychal Judge, O.F.M. ran into the North Tower alongside the firemen he served. Not long after, he became the first recorded victim of the terrorist attacks. Fr. Mychal was the mentor of many, including friars and fire fighters.
Brother David Schlatter ’72, O.F.M., both a friar and fire chaplain, wanted to create a fitting memorial to his brother, Fr. Mychal. And so, during the days immediately following 911 the Bells of Remembrance Project began.
In the words of Br. David, bells give expression “to feelings people sometimes cannot verbalize.” Though his initial desire was to create a memorial for a singular friar, these bells became a simple yet fitting and solemn way to reverently honor the memory of all those who died as a result of September 11, 2001. These Bells have tolled at the sites forever hallowed because of the lives of those who perished that day.
In the years following 911, the Bells have been rung for annual memorial commemorations in Manhattan, Shanksville, Arlington, and Boston, where two of the 911 flights originated.
In August of 2006, the Bells of Remembrance were donated to the National Park Service’s Flight 93 Memorial.
In August of 2019, the Bells were donated to St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, Connecticut in memory of the children, teachers, and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary school.
In 2019, Siena lost a special friend in the death of Br. F. Edward Coughlin, O.F.M, the 11th President of Siena College. Br. Ed, as he was known, had a very significant relationship with 911, living at the time with Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M. at St. Francis of Assisi in NYC. Br. Ed was responsible for “claiming” the body of his brother, Mychal, the afternoon of Tuesday September 11 and preparing his funeral arrangements. It seemed appropriate upon the untimely death of Br. Ed, whose father died in the line of duty as a firefighter in Buffalo many years ago, that the Franciscan Friars would donate these bells to Siena College to help us remember what Francis of Assisi teaches us – the inseparable bond of all creation cries out for just relationships leading to true peace.
On June 15, 2020 Siena College received these three Bells, named from the book of the prophet Micah: Justice, Love, and Humility.
In May 2021, the Bells were rung as a part of the graduate commencement ceremony.
During the summer of 2022, the Bells were installed in their current home as a part of the Siena Grotto.