The home church of U.S. journalist James Foley, who was brutally beheaded by ISIS militants last week, held a memorial service in Rochester, New Hampshire, Sunday, remembering him for living his faith by highlighting suffering. The journalist's family released a final letter sent by him while he was in captivity, where he prayed regularly.
The memorial Mass was attended by Foley's parents, John and Diane Foley, and hundreds of others at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary church, The Associated Press reported.
Bishop Peter Libasci, who spoke at the memorial Mass, was quoted as telling the crowd that Foley was captured for the first time in Libya in 2011, and yet he "went back again that we might open our eyes. That we might indeed know how precious is this gift. May almighty God grant peace to James and to all our fragile world."
Foley, the first U.S. citizen confirmed to have been killed by ISIS terrorists, was a freelance journalist and photojournalist covering the Syrian Civil War for Agence France-Presse and GlobalPost when he was abducted on Nov. 22, 2012, in northwestern Syria.
"His family has an extraordinary faith. And that faith is really the only light that seems to be piercing through all the darkness that surrounded the death of Jim Foley," GlobalPost Co-Founder Charlie Sennott told WBZ-TV.
Foley's funeral has been scheduled for Oct. 18, the day he would have turned 41.
After the mass, Foley's family posted on the "Free James Foley" Facebook page the last letter written and sent by him.
"I remember going to the mall with Dad, a very long bike ride with Mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart," he wrote in the letter addressed to "Dear Family and Friends."
"I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray," Foley added.
Foley said there were 17 other hostages along with him. He added that he and others were given their daily food with tea and coffee. "I have regained most of my weight lost last year. ... I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength."
Foley also urged his grandmother to "please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life."
ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State, posted a video on the Internet last week showing his killing. It said he was killed in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq.
The Sunni terror group, which had long been aiming at establishing an Islamic emirate in the Levant region through "jihad," is among the major terrorist groups that are fighting government forces in Syria, and has made significant military gains in Iraq in recent months.