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James Foley's Hometown Church Holds Mass to Honor, Remember His Life: Family Releases Last 'Letter'

( [email protected] ) Aug 25, 2014 07:48 PM EDT
James Foley, the journalist killed by Islamic State Terrorist, was remembered in his hometown Sunday.  On Friday, his family released the last 'letter' they received before his death.
James Wright Foley, American photojournalist who was executed by ISIS (Photo: Nicole Tung/Facebook.com/FindJamesFoley)

Roman Catholic Bishop Peter Libasci said slain U.S. journalist James Foley was living his faith by bringing images of people suffering from war and oppressive regimes to the world's attention, at a Mass held in Foley's honor at his home Church on Sunday.  

Bishop Libasci pointed out that even after Foley was captured for the first time in Libya in 2011, he "went back again that we might open our eyes."

According the Associated Press, The Mass in Rochester, New Hampshire at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church was attended by Foley's parents, John and Diane Foley, and hundreds of others who came out to support the family.   The Bishop  also read aloud a letter extending the condolences of Pope Francis.

Foley was kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day 2012 while covering the Syrian uprising. The Islamic State posted a Web video Tuesday showing his killing and said it was in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq.

Before he was murdered, the U.S. launched a raid to rescue Foley and other hostages, but special forces could not locate the hostages where they thought they would be.  

During the Mass,  Libasci invoked the prayer of St. Francis, which begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace," to implore the gathered not to hate but to heal."It is in giving that we receive," he recited. "It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life. To these words, I think we can say, 'Yes, I wish we could do that.' It is not beyond our capability. It is not impossible. Our Lord lived it. Our most Blessed Mother lived it. Many saints have lived it. James lived it."

The bishop frequently addressed Foley's parents and stressed the familial love shared by them, he also prayed for another captive journalist, Steven Sotloff, and all captives.

"Jim went back again that we might open our eyes," Libasci said. "That we might indeed know how precious is this gift. May almighty God grant peace to James and to all our fragile world."

A funeral for Foley will be Oct. 18, what would have been his 41st birthday.

At a vigil Saturday night in Rochester, about 200 people gathered to show support for the Foley family.

"We are honored that you care and love Jim. We are honored that you recognized the sacrifices he made," John Foley said then. "He loved the Syrian people. He was devoted to telling their story and doing whatever he could to help their fight."

Speakers praised Foley's determination to report on the Syrian people uprooted by conflict.

On Friday, Foley's family released the last communication they had with James, a 'letter' he had a fellow hostage memorize before the other man was released.

A LETTER FROM JIM: All letters Jim wrote to his family during his captivity were confiscated by the jailers. So, Jim devised a better approach this last June: he asked a fellow hostage about to be released to commit a letter to memory. Very soon after his release, this hostage called Diane and dictated what follows.

 

"Dear Family and Friends,

 

I remember going to the Mall with Dad, a very long bike ride with Mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart.

 

I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.

 

Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell...we have found ways to play checkers, Chess, and Risk... and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day's game or lecture. The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension.

 

I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year.

 

I think a lot about my brothers and sister. I remember playing Werewolf in the dark with Michael and so many other adventures. I think of chasing Mattie and T around the kitchen counter. It makes me happy to think of them. If there is any money left in my bank account, I want it to go to Michael and Matthew. I am so proud of you, Michael and thankful to you for happy childhood memories and to you and Kristie for happy adult ones.

 

And big John, how I enjoyed visiting you and Cress in Germany. Thank you for welcoming me. I think a lot about RoRo and try to imagine what Jack is like. I hope he has RoRo's personality!

 

And Mark... so proud of you too Bro. I think of you on the West coast and hope you are doing some snowboarding and camping, I especially remember us going to the Comedy Club in Boston together and our big hug after. The special moments keep me hopeful.

 

Katie, so very proud of you. You are the strongest and best of us all!! I think of you working so hard, helping people as a nurse. I am so glad we texted just before I was captured. I pray I can come to your wedding.... now I am sounding like Grammy!!

 

Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita's when I get home. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.


Jim"