Ashes from ground zero find a final resting place in Southwest Florida

Reporter: Jolena Esperto Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Remains from September 11, 2001. (Credit: WINK News)

A portion of American history scooped up from ground zero 21 years ago now has a home in Southwest Florida.

21 years after the most tragic day in modern American history, Friar Robert Tabbert of St. John XXIII Catholic Church in south Fort Myers will lead his parishioners to a place of peace known as the Memorial Garden.

“This is very sacred ground because our loved ones are buried here,” explained Friar Tabbert.

The church’s Memorial Garden is home to cremains of parishioners who wished to have their ashes buried there. Now, a statute holding ashes from ground zero will find a forever resting place with them.

“We were contacted by Adam Hall, who had lived in New York City right across the street from the towers. He couldn’t go home for several weeks. When he was allowed home, he took up a scoop of what he didn’t know what it was. I think it emotionally was very difficult for him. But he kept it, and he preserved it, and he came to see me, oh maybe 8 or 9 months ago with it and said I have to do something with this now. I think he had to put closer to it,” said Friar Tabbert.

The church contacted a local artist to design a structure to hold the remains. The monument holds the remains in glass at the top.

“Inside here are the remains of perhaps of the buildings or even the cremains of loved ones who passed away,” explained Friar Tabbert.

Philip Markey is an Usher at St. John XXIII Catholic Church.

“And as many bone fragments as possible were scooped up and tried to DNA samples were taken up those people to try and find out who they were and who their loved ones were,” Markey said.

In those remains were Tom Warenkiewicz’s cousin.

“My cousin was killed in the Trade Center. I was fortunate to escape out of the Trade Center and to my other place of work. So it’s very personal to me,” Warenkiewicz said.

After the 11:15 mass, a procession to the Memorial Garden to pray and bless the monument will follow in honor of those lives lost on September 11, 2001. Friar Tabbert has counseled many parishioners over the years, looking for peace after the tragedy. He says remembering can be the greatest source of healing.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.