Your son Conor has known Father Mike since birth. What has he said about him and about the World Trade Center attack?

Conor's very upset, he's devastated. They were very close. Early on in my hospitalization I was unable to travel so Father Mike, my wife Patti Ann, and Conor went to Disneyland. Conor was three years old and Father Mike was like the father figure. We have some great pictures of Father Mike and Conor going on some kind of saucer ride. When I told him Father Mike was dead, Conor ran out of the house screaming, and he ran all the way to his grandmother's.

Why would a loving God allow this to happen? The answer we're given as Catholics is because of free will. God gave us free will and those men determined that they were going to destroy human life. But the reward, if I can say it that way for those people on the plane, those in the Trade Towers, is that now they're experiencing eternal life with the Father and it's better than any trip to Disneyland could ever have been.

God has been very good to me my entire life, especially in the 15 years I've been like this, and I keep thinking how can I say thank you to God, how can I show him how grateful I am? I want to give my son as a gift to him and I tell people all the time, "Pray that Conor will answer his call with a vocation to serve God as a priest." And when Conor would hear me say that he'd roll his eyes and say, "Dad, jeez, would you leave me alone" or "Give me a break." Now he's 14, he just started high school, and a week ago he was at mass with Patti Ann after Father Mike passed, and he said, "You know, Mom, I think I'd like to be a friar." Maybe that's just at the moment, just because of everything he was experiencing, Father Mike's death. But I said, Wow, if there is an increase in vocations it'll be because of Father Mike's sacrifice, his giving his life for others as a priest. That story will circulate far and wide, and it could be a reason why some people answer that call.

If you could give a message to the families whose loved ones died, what would you say?

I have my problems, but nothing like what they're going through. I have made it these 15 years by turning my life over as best I can, in an imperfect way, to God. My wife said hours after I was shot, "I'm going to trust in God." I also say, Allow people to help you. Many of us have difficulty in doing that. You'll find a stronger, deeper self when you turn yourself over to God and the help of others.

I have my problems, but nothing like what they're going through. I have made it these 15 years by turning my life over as best I can, in an imperfect way, to God. My wife said hours after I was shot, "I'm going to trust in God." I also say, Allow people to help you. Many of us have difficulty in doing that. You'll find a stronger, deeper self when you turn yourself over to God and the help of others.

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