Pilgrims from Illinois Among Those on Hijacked Jet With AM-Hijack
CHICAGO (AP) _ At least 26 Roman Catholic pilgrims from Illinois - three of them priests - were among the 145 passengers aboard a jetliner hijacked Friday in the Mediterranean.
″We’re waiting, we’re praying, we’re hoping,″ said the Rev. Robert Garrity, of the St. Margaret Mary Church in Algonquin, which had 17 parishioners aboard. ″It’s a very trying situation, a lot of emotion here. People have been crying, shocked, scared.″
The pilgrims were trying to return from the Holy Land when the TWA jet was hijacked between Athens and Rome. They included the St. Margaret’s parishioners, one person associated with the church, five parishioners from St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Geneva, and the priests.
After the plane was forced to detour to Beirut, 19 women and children were released - 10 of them from Illinois, according to government authorities and parish secretaries.
One of the freed hostages ″wanted to know if we were all praying, and I told her we were,″ said Lois Bushman, a pastoral associate at the Geneva church. She had telephoned Larnaca, Cyprus, where the hostages freed at Beirut were flown, and talked to Loretta McLoughlin, the mother of one of the hijacked priests, the Rev. James W. McLoughlin of Geneva.
″I told her we were starting a vigil,″ said Ms. Bushman. ″We told her that we loved her and was glad she was safe and that we loved him and would keep on praying for him.″
Mrs. Bushman said Mrs. McLoughlin was weeping and that they only talked ″a minute or two.″
The three priests aboard are ″very level-headed,″ said the Rev. Robert Balogg, secretary to the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Rockford.
″I suspect they would do everything they can to keep composed and help the composure of the (other) passengers,″ Balogg said.