EXETER -- Fred Barretta, one of the US Airways Flight 1549 plane crash survivors, was the key speaker at Catholic radio station JMJ 750 AM‚??s Inaugural Fall Banquet on Sunday.
Guest speaker Barretta called surviving the Jan. 15, 2009 plane crash experience as ‚??one that enhanced my faith.‚?Ě The crash has been described as ‚??Miracle on the Hudson‚?Ě in reference to the plane‚??s landing against all odds, by pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger. The flight was en route from New York City‚??s La Guardia Airport to the Charlotte/Douglas Airport in Charlotte, N.C. when the plane struck a flock of Canada geese, causing engine failure and leaving Sullenberger no choice but to attempt an emergency landing.
Barretta, who holds a pilot‚??s license himself, realized shortly after takeoff that the plane was in critical trouble. Barretta said that prior to the crash he had been practicing his Catholic faith ‚??to the best of my ability,‚?Ě and described his faith after the incident as one of a ‚??deeper nature.‚?Ě ‚??It was an opportunity to place my trust in God in dire circumstances‚?Ě he added. Barretta continued by saying that ‚??this is a difficult time for the Catholic Church‚?Ě and that it is a ‚??misunderstood faith.‚?Ě
Barretta admitted that he had long struggled with issues of giving up control. He referred to the crash as a ‚??direct lesson‚?Ě where he had to show trust and give up control, leaving the matter in the hands of God. During the crucial four to five minutes before the plane‚??s miraculous landing, Barretta said that he was unsure of what the outcome of the situation would be, and had to let God take control. Barretta added that although it is difficult for him to explain, it was a ‚??peaceful experience‚?Ě and that he felt a ‚??sense of calmness.‚?Ě
The banquet was held at St. Anthony‚??s Church Hall, and was used as a fundraiser for the listener-supported radio station, which is the only Catholic radio station in the Diocese of Scranton‚??s area. Ed and Carol Niewinski of Kingston purchased the station nearly five years ago to preserve it as a Catholic station. JMJ is 100 percent dependent on its listeners‚?? support.
The Rev. Paul McDonnell of St. Joseph‚??s Oblates and the Rev. Leo McKernan, pastor of St. Monica‚??s Church in Wyoming, serve as executive board directors and spiritual advisors at JMJ. Rev. McDonnell invited .Barretta to speak at the banquet after witnessing Barretta‚??s inspirational 2010 speech given at a men‚??s banquet held at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Pittston.
McDonnell said that he hopes that JMJ‚??s banquet will ‚??raise a greater awareness‚?Ě (of the station) and ‚??let people know that we are out there.‚?Ě He also stated that the station not only brings the Catholic listeners closer to their faith, but is a way for other faiths to get a better understanding of the Catholic religion, as well. He described the station as ‚??an instrument of evangelism‚?Ě and that he is hoping that the station can expand to the FM dial in the future.
Donations to the station can be sent to JMJ Catholic Radio 750 AM, P.O. Box 851, Pittston, PA 18640.