Memorial Labyrinth for 9/11 Victims Dedicated

Memorial Labyrinth for 9/11 Victims Dedicated

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Dedicating a memorial labyrinth as "a place of healing, consolation and peace," Boston College President William P. Leahy, SJ, last Thursday permanently honored the 22 University alumni who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The names of the 22 deceased alumni are etched into the outer ring of the 50-foot wide labyrinth, a medieval prayer circle of concentric rings forming a single path to the center.

IN MEMORIAM - A personalized tribute to 1999 graduate Welles Crowther, one of 22 Boston College alumni whose names are inscribed in the newly dedicated memorial labyrinth honoring graduates killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City. Crowther became known as "The Man in the Red Bandanna," who led three groups of survivors out of the south tower of the World Trade Center shortly before it collapsed. Selected mementos left on the labyrinth will be kept in the University Archives. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
"Labyrinths have long been a symbol of life's journey," Fr. Leahy told the gathering of more than 1,500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and dozens of family members and friends of the deceased graduates who filled the Burns Library lawn, site of the stone walkway. "In medieval times they became associated in the Christian religious imagination with the pilgrimage to Jerusalem - the primal journey through uncertainty and trial to God.

"May its presence on the Boston College campus call us to understand that even in darkness, there is a path on which we can walk," Fr. Leahy said. "Even in confusion there is grace to guide our journey. And, even when we seem to stand most distant from where we began, we can yet turn again toward home, moving according to the sure compass of God's enduring love."

The noontime dedication ceremony began with the slow tolling of the Gasson Hall bells - rung 22 times in honor of the graduates who died at New York's World Trade Center that day.

In an invocation prayer, Director of Campus Ministry James D. Erps, SJ, said, "Today we remember 22 of our own whom you have called to yourself. They were once students here - students who worked and prayed, loved and dreamed.

"May we never forget our alumni whose names are inscribed in this stone."

The names of the deceased alumni were read by students. Musical accompaniment to the ceremony was provided by the Liturgical Arts Group and Voices of Imani, and Boston Fire Department bagpiper Kevin McCarthy played "Amazing Grace."

The Boston College labyrinth is patterned after the famed stone pathway in the Cathedral at Chartres, France, where for centuries worshippers have prayed and reflected while making a symbolic pilgrimage along the winding walkway.

Constructing a medieval labyrinth as a memorial to Boston College's lost alumni was a task almost as herculean as the 50-foot wide stone pathway itself.

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and Campus Ministry Director James Erps, SJ, at last Thursday's dedication ceremony of the labyrinth memorial for BC alumni who perished on Sept. 11.
Director of Facilities Services Roger Goode said the University contracted Geller Associates Inc. of Boston, one of the region's leading landscape architectural firms, to construct the memorial. Geller has overseen design and construction of the St. Ignatius Drive entryway and the plaza in front of the Lower Campus Dining Hall as well as stone construction projects at a number of institutions in Massachusetts.

Geller's project architect, Matthew Giacchi, said designers researched and studied the Chartres labyrinth, and then used a computer-assisted drawing system to draft the new construction specifications.

"We kept the exact proportions of the original," Giacchi said, "but because [the Chartres labyrinth] is so old, it is not as exact as we have made ours. We have a consistent four-inch gap between our paths, when the original was done there were inconsistencies in that."

Giacchi said the 300-yard long, 28-loop labyrinth walkway consists of some 600 bluestones, quarried in Endicott, NY, and cut with laser-guided radial technology to fit perfectly in the circular design. "We did shop drawings on every single piece," he said. "Then it was just a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle together."

Each of the center pathway stones is approximately two and a half feet long and weighs some 60 pounds. The outer pathway stones are four feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds each.

"We needed stones that were not going to move," Giacchi said.


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