Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering Fr. Mychal Judge May 11, 1933 - September 11, 2001

Lord, take me where You want me to go,
let me meet who you want me to meet,
tell me what You want me to say,
and keep me out of Your way.

These are the words of the most famous victim of September 11, 2001.  

Fr. Mychal F. Judge OFM was the first certified victim of the attack on 9/11.  A Roman Catholic Priest, Judge also served the NY City Fire Department as it's chaplain.  
Robert Emmet Judge was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and was a twin.  He grew up during the great depression and always had a "big heart" for the poor and indigent. After his father's death when Judge was six, he shined shoes in the subway to support his family. He often passed the St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York and would visit the priests.  He soon realized that he didn't really care for material things and it was during that time that he knew he wanted to be a priest.

He began working toward the priesthood at the age of 15.  He received his education from three seminaries and eventually earned a bachelors degree from St. Bonaventure University.  He became ordained in 1961.  He changed his name to Michael when he joined the Order of Friars Minor and eventually changed the spelling to Mychal.  

Story of Fr. Judge
He served many parishes including one in Boston and others in New Jersey. In 1986, Fr. Judge was assigned to the parish he often passed as a child.  Fr. Judge discovered he had an alcohol problem and in 1978 with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous he became sober.  He used that experience to help other alcoholics over the years.  

In 1992, Fr. Judge was appointed chaplain of the Fire Department of New York.  Over the years, he helped many firemen and others by giving encouragement and prayers at hospitals, at fires, and during many emergency situations.    He also continued to tend to the homeless in the city and as a result was loved by thousands.  Many looked at Judge as a saint prior to 911.

Fr. Mychal Judge funeral
On September 11, 2001, upon learning of the first attack, Fr. Judge rushed to the World Trade Center to offer his assistance.  When he arrived at the site, he met Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  The mayor asked Fr. Judge to pray and began offering last rites to victims on the street and soon entered the North Tower to continue supporting the victims.  It was there that Judge was hit by flying debris.  It was said that the moment he was struck in the head, Judge was praying "Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this! according to Michael Daly, a New York Daily News columnist.  
Fr. Mychal's prayer card

Fr. Mychal Judge was designated as "Victim 0001" and thus recognized as the first official victim of Sept. 11, 2001.  The cause of his death was ruled "blunt force trauma to the head."  He was 68 years of age.

Approximately 3000 people paid tribute to Fr. Judge on September 15 in the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Manhattan.  Among those who spoke were Cardinal Edward Egan along with former president Bill Clinton.  Clinton said that Fr. Judge's death was a "special loss.  We should lift his life up as an example of what has to prevail...We have to be more like Father Mike than the people who killed him."  Fr. Michael Duffy was the homilist for the funeral mass and said of Judge" His heart was open, his ears were open and he truly was a people person.  When he was talking to you, he made you feel like you were the only person on the face of the earth.  Father Mychal Judge loved to be where the action was.  He loved to be where there was a crisis, so he could serve God."  The funeral was directed by the Frank Campbell Funeral Chapel in New York.
Fr. Mychal Judge gravesite

Fr. Mychal Judge rests in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Massaic City, New Jersey.

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