The Thai that Binds: On Rev. Frank Nash, S.J.

2001 Thailand Trip with Rev. Frank Nash, S.J.

By Magazine Staff  |  Photos courtesy of Erin O′Keefe, ′03

It was Sept. 11, 2001. The group of Loyola students studying abroad in Thailand headed to the student center, flipped on the TV, and watched as the second World Trade Center tower fell.

“Most of us were from New York and had family and friends there, and the phones were down,” said Laisha Washington, ’03, who lives and works in advertising sales in Manhattan. Washington was finally able to reach her family through the Internet. Through the most anxious moments, the Rev. Frank Nash, S.J., was a calming presence, and Washington recalled how he led them in prayer. “A lot of us were sad and he consoled us. He was there for us during that time.”

Fr. Nash, now Loyola’s alumni chaplain, oversaw the University’s Thailand study abroad program. “He had a sense of calm, and was someone to turn to,” said Kate Bohen, ’03. “He wasn’t making false promises, but was a voice of reason.”

A Long Island native, Jillian Rendace, ’03, remembers how distressed some of the students were. “We were just so confused. People were upset, crying, because their fathers worked in the building, and some people freaked out because we were so far from home.”

Through it all, Fr. Nash was a source of strength.

Three of the 37 students decided to go home. “We were really working closely with Fr. Nash to make adult decisions about the responsible thing to do,” said Bohen, who now works for an international development firm in Washington, D.C. “One of Fr. Nash’s strengths is that he treats you as an adult. There were clear expectations, clear consequences, and very much a focus on independence.”

The students had been in Thailand since May, so the group was already close-knit by Sept. 11. But being together through that time of uncertainty helped them forge a special connection with one another—and with Fr. Nash. This past fall, several of Fr. Nash’s former students took him to lunch, remembering that day 10 years ago.

“A lot of us were like, let’s go out for blood,” said Rick Nenno, ’03, now a pilot in the Marines, stationed in San Diego, Calif. “Fr. Nash said, ‘Hold on, time out. Number one, let’s see what’s going on first.’ He was very even-keeled, and that was exactly what we needed at that time. He was that voice of reason.”

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