Beheaded journalist James Foley was remembered as a hometown hero and his parents were given a standing ovation during a worship service Sunday in New Hampshire. The mass was attended by Foley's parents, John and Diane, and held at their church, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Rochester.
Roman Catholic Bishop Peter Libasci read aloud a letter from the Vatican extending the condolences of Pope Francis, who called Foley's parents personally Thursday to comfort them, two days after a video of Foley's beheading was made public by the Islamic State, the militant group in Syria and Iraq that has claimed responsibility for his death. Foley disappeared in November 2012 while covering the Syrian uprising. The Islamic State said he was killed in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq.
Photos of Foley were arranged throughout the church during the memorial. His parents greeted and hugged other parishioners. “It’s world news, but it’s our hometown,” Adam Dow, a Realtor who attended grade school and high school with Foley, told the New York Times.
Libasci also prayed for Steven Sotloff, another journalist whose life has been threatened by the Islamic State, and for 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.”
Many who attended the memorial had never met Foley or his parents, but said they were inspired by his work covering war-torn regions, the Wall Street Journal reported. "In my eyes, he was a disciple of Christ," Sandra Harrington, 68, told the Journal. "He brought out light into the world and he brought out truth, as Jesus did."
New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan and U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte also attended the mass. A funeral mass for Foley has been scheduled for Oct. 18, what would have been his 41st birthday.