Contact: Christopher Heffron
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November 15, 2001   447 Words

Memory of Fallen NY Firefighter Chaplain Mychal Judge, O.F.M., Honored

CINCINNATI—Father Mychal Judge, O.F.M., will probably not be remembered as the first officially recorded fatality following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11th. The person that he was, that of a caring Franciscan priest, mentor, brother and friend, will solidify his memory in the hearts of all those he touched in the 68 years that he was alive.

Father Mychal’s extraordinary life, his tireless passion for his work and his tragic death following the terrorist attacks are all featured in a December article in St. Anthony Messenger, entitled “No Greater Love: Chaplain Mychal Judge, O.F.M.” Co-authors John Zawadzinski and Assistant Editor John Bookser Feister examine the journey of this remarkable man. The story can be found here at

As the son of poor Irish immigrants, Father Mychal knew early the gravity of suffering when he watched his father die after a long illness. That experience served him well when he joined the Franciscans in 1954. Father Mychal made his final profession in 1958 and was ordained in 1961. Father Mychal’s unwavering love for people would be the foundation of his ministry, as well as his trademark. In the early days of AIDS, when many were too scared to touch  those suffering from the disease, Father Mychal showed his love by holding their hands and kissing their foreheads. During a hostage situation in Carlstadt, New Jersey, when a distraught man held his wife and child at gunpoint, Father Mychal served as an intermediary and conveyed his patience and emotional support for the perpetrator. The conflict was resolved without injury.

Becoming a fire chaplain in 1992 was a dream-come-true for Father Mychal. “I always wanted to be a priest or a fireman; now I’m both,” he once said. His dedication to New York firefighters would be tested on the 11th of September. According to Cassian Miles, O.F.M., communications director for the Holy Name Province, Father Mychal was anointing a firefighter and a woman who had fallen on top of him. Father Mychal removed his helmet in prayer and was fatally struck in the back of the head by falling debris.

It comes as no surprise to those who knew Father Mychal that he died doing what he loved: helping people. His closest friend, Father Michael Duffy, O.F.M., remembers him as a man who “treated everyone like family,” and “above all, was a living example of Jesus    Christ. I’m not sure what I’m going to do without him.”


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