Vigil held for journalist James Foley at his alma mater

BY Larisa Epatko  August 26, 2014 at 11:31 AM EST

Updated with the video above of the entire vigil.

Freelance journalist James Foley, known by those around him as Jim, will be remembered Tuesday at a vigil at his alma mater, Marquette University.

Unidentified gunmen captured Foley on Nov. 22, 2012 in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border while he was reporting on the war in Syria. A gruesome video came out 635 days later showing his beheading by jihadists.

Foley majored in history at Marquette and graduated in 1996. He was 40 at the time of his death, and by then had inspired other journalists at the school.

“James Foley stated that Marquette University had always been a friend to him,” wrote the Rev. Frederick Zagone, chaplain of Marquette’s alumni association. “In reality, it was James who was a friend to so many throughout his service as a Marquette student and throughout his professional career.”

In a letter published in the fall 2011 edition of the school’s magazine, Foley wrote about his previous detainment in Libya and how prayer kept him afloat:

“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.”

After Foley’s release in Libya 45 days later, when he was finally able to make a phone call, he recalled hearing his mother at last: “I replayed that call hundreds of times in my head – my mother’s voice, the names of my friends, her knowledge of our situation, her absolute belief in the power of prayer. She told me my friends had gathered to do anything they could to help. I knew I wasn’t alone.”

James Foley spoke at Marquette University in 2011 after his first abduction in Libya.

His friends and members of the community will be able to remember him again at Tuesday’s vigil, which will be held at 6 p.m. Central Time in Church of the Gesu, in Milwaukee. The event will be live-streamed on WTMJ-TV’s website.

A Twitter hashtag #RememberingJim and separate website were set up for people to post photos and stories about Foley.

After word of his death on Aug. 19, Foley’s mother Diane wrote: “We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. … We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person.”