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Slain Marquette Alum James Foley Recounted Power of Prayer

marqMarquette University alumnus and U.S. journalist, James Foley, was shown being beheaded in a video released by ISIS and posted on YouTube on Tuesday, according to Fox. Foley, who was kidnapped in Syria, had been kidnapped once before while covering the civil war in Libya in 2011. Afterwards, Foley reflected with deep gratitude on the good of his Catholic university education.

After his first kidnapping, Foley wrote in a letter to Marquette University:

With Marquette, I went on some volunteer trips to South Dakota and Mississippi and learned I was a sheltered kid and the world had real problems. I came to know young people who wanted to give their hearts for others. Later I volunteered in a Milwaukee junior high school up the street from the university and was inspired to become an inner-city teacher. But Marquette was perhaps never a bigger friend to me than when I was imprisoned as a journalist.

Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli. Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic. My colleague, Clare, was supposed to call her mom on her birthday, which was the day after we were captured. I had still not fully admitted to myself that my mom knew what had happened. But I kept telling Clare my mom had a strong faith.

I prayed she’d know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.

I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.

In the letter, James also recounted that, in a rare phone call home during the detention, his mother informed him that Marquette had held a prayer vigil for him, and he was later able to listen to a speech given at that vigil.

It showed tremendous heart and was just a glimpse of the efforts and prayers people were pouring forth. If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.

He later returned to Marquette and gave a talk about his experience.

After resuming overseas journalism, this time in Syria, Foley was reportedly kidnapped a second time near the Turkish border on Thanksgiving Day 2012. Marquette again held a prayer service for him, attended by his parents.

Now, in light of his apparent execution, Marquette has issued a statement, which says, “The Marquette community is deeply saddened by the death of alumnus and freelance journalist, James Foley, Arts ’96. We extend our heartfelt prayers and wishes for healing to James’ family and friends during this very difficult time.”

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