Callery pear tree blessed by St. Stephen's pastor on the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:42

Warwick — On Sunday, Sept, 11, shortly after the 12:15 outdoor Mass and just before the annual Parish Picnic, Father Michael McLoughlin, pastor of Warwick's Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr, blessed a callery pear tree at the church's adjacent Pennings Field. The significance of that action was that one survivor of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center was a callery pear tree, known as the "survivor tree." It had been all but destroyed when the buildings collapsed. As a meaningful symbol for the tenth anniversary of 9-11, the St. Stephen's Parish Council had arranged for the planting of a similar callery pear tree in the field recently donated by the Pennings family. The Council had also designed a plaque in remembrance of that horrific day. In October, 2001, the original callery pear tree was uncovered at Ground Zero amid the rubble. It had a blackened trunk, broken roots and only one living branch. In an unusual decision under the circumstances, the New York City Parks Department decided to transport the tree to the Arthur Ross Nursery at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. On one occasion, even at that safe location, it was knocked over by high winds. But after nine years of extraordinary loving care and against all odds, the "survivor tree" was returned, in good health, to Ground Zero and replanted on the plaza. It was the only survivor tree to be returned and sits among the swamp white oaks now planted at the National 9-11 Memorial plaza.