Everyone knows the name of Fr. Mychal Judge, the first official casualty of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Not many people will recognize the name of Father Francis Grogan, C.S.C. Fr. Grogan was a passenger onboard United Airlines Flight #175 when it hit the second tower.
The newspaper of the Diocese of Albany recalls Fr. Grogan:
In 2001, Father Grogan, 76, was in between ministries. The former director of the Holy Cross Residence in North Dartmouth, Mass., had just accepted the post as chaplain of St. Joseph’s when he decided to visit his sister in California before he began his new position in the fall.
Father Grogan was scheduled to take a Delta Airlines flight from Boston on Sept. 11 when a friend offered him a first-class seat on United Flight 175 instead. Neither his sister nor the Holy Cross religious brothers knew about the change, so it was only when he failed to call during a scheduled layover in Chicago that his sister began to worry.
At 9:03 a.m., Flight 175 had crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
“We found out Father Frank was on the plane by the end of that day,” Brother Edward Boyer, CSC, told The Evangelist. Brother Edward, now posted at St. Joseph’s, taught at Holy Cross High School in Flushing, N.Y., with Father Grogan in the 1960s.
Brother Edward was still teaching at the school on the day the planes struck the towers.
“We had front row seats that day,” he said. “It was just an overwhelmingly sad day. We lost 17 alumni from the school and we were just in shock when we heard about Father Frank.”
Father Grogan was ordained a priest in 1955. He had served as a parish priest, a high school religion teacher and a chaplain for Holy Cross brothers.
The World War II Navy veteran was described by Brother Edward as “calm and compassionate. He was very close with his brothers and very good with his students and, if he erred, it was always on the side of compassion.”