Mychal Judge

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This article is about the Roman Catholic priest. For the NY Waterways ferry, see Mychal Judge (ship). For the billiards player, see Michael Judge. For the cartoonist, see Mike Judge.
The Rev. Father
Mychal F. Judge, O.F.M.
12.6.11MychalJudgePanelS-18ByLuigiNovi2.jpg
Judge’s name is located on Panel S-18 of the National September 11 Memorial’s South Pool, along with those of other first responders.
Orders
Ordination 1961
Personal details
Birth name Robert Emmett Judge
Born (1933-05-11)May 11, 1933
Brooklyn, New York,
United States
Died September 11, 2001(2001-09-11) (aged 68)
World Trade Center,
New York, New York,
United States
Denomination Roman Catholic
Occupation Chaplain to the New York City Fire Department
Education St. Bonaventure University, Holy Name College Seminary

Mychal Judge, O.F.M. (aka Michael Fallon Judge) (May 11, 1933—September 11, 2001), was a Franciscan friar and Catholic priest who served as a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. It was while serving in that capacity that he was killed, becoming the first certified fatality of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[1]

Early life

Mychal Judge was born Robert Emmett Judge on May 11, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of immigrants from County Leitrim, Ireland, and the firstborn of a pair of fraternal twins. His twin sister Dympna was born two days later. Judge was baptized in St. Paul's Church in Brooklyn on June 4. They and their older sister Erin, grew up during the Great Depression.[2]

From the ages of three to six, he watched his father suffer and die of mastoiditis, a slow and painful illness of the skull and inner ear. To earn income following his father's death, Judge shined shoes at New York Penn Station from where he would visit St. Francis of Assisi Church, located across the street. Seeing the Franciscan friars there, he later said, "I realized that I didn't care for material things... I knew then that I wanted to be a friar."[3]

Career

After spending his freshman year at the St. Francis Preparatory School in Brooklyn, where he studied under the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, in 1948, at the age of 15, Judge began the formation process to enter the Order of Friars Minor. He transferred to St. Joseph's Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, New York, the minor seminary of the Holy Name Province of the Order. After graduation, he enrolled at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York. In 1954 he was admitted to the novitiate of the Province in Paterson, New Jersey. After completing that year of formation, he received the religious habit and professed his first vows as a member of the Order.[4] At that time, he was given the religious name of Fallon Michael. (He later dropped 'Fallon' and changed 'Michael' to the Gaelic form, Mychal).[5] He resumed his college studies at St. Bonaventure University, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in 1957.[6] He was allowed to profess his solemn vows as a full member of the Order in 1958.[4] Following this, he did his theological studies at Holy Name College Seminary in Washington, D.C.. Upon completing these studies in 1961, he was ordained a priest.[7]

After his ordination, Judge was assigned to the Shrine of St. Anthony in Boston, Massachusetts. Following there, he served in various parishes served by the Franciscan friars: St. Joseph Parish in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Sacred Heart Parish in Rochelle Park, New Jersey, Holy Cross Parish in the Bronx and St. Joseph Parish in West Milford, New Jersey. For three years he served as assistant to the President of Siena College, operated by the friars in Loudonville, New York. In 1986 he was assigned to St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan, where he had first come to know the friars. He lived and worked there until his death.[8]

Around 1971, Judge became an alcoholic, although he never showed obvious signs. In 1978, with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous, he became sober and continued to share his personal story of alcoholism to help others facing addiction.[9]

In 1992, Judge was appointed a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. As chaplain, he offered encouragement and prayers at fires, rescues, and hospitals, and counseled firemen and their families, often working 16-hour days. "His whole ministry was about love. Mychal loved the fire department and they loved him."[10] He was a member of AFSCME Local 299 (District Council 37).[11]

In New York, Judge was also well known for ministering to the homeless, the hungry, recovering alcoholics, people with AIDS, the sick, injured, and grieving, immigrants, gays and lesbians and those alienated by the Church and society.[12]

For example, Judge once gave the winter coat off his back to a homeless woman in the street, later saying, "She needed it more than me." When he anointed a man who was dying of AIDS, the man asked him, "Do you think God hates me?" Judge just picked him up, kissed him, and silently rocked him in his arms.[13]

Even before his death, many considered Judge to be a living saint for his extraordinary works of charity and his deep spirituality. While praying, he would sometimes "become so lost in God, as if lost in a trance, that he'd be shocked to find several hours had passed."[14] Judge's former spiritual director, the former Jesuit, John J. McNeill, observed that, "He achieved an extraordinary degree of union with the divine. We knew we were dealing with someone directly in line with God."[15]

September 11th attacks

On September 11, 2001, upon learning that the World Trade Center had been hit by the first of two jetliners, Judge rushed to the site. He was met by Rudolph Giuliani, the Mayor of New York City, who asked him to pray for the city and its victims. Judge administered the Last Rites to some bodies lying on the streets, then entered the lobby of the World Trade Center North Tower, where an emergency command post had been organized. There he continued offering aid and prayers for the rescuers, the injured and the dead.

When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 am, debris went flying through the North Tower lobby, killing many inside, including Judge. At the moment he was struck in the head and killed, Judge was repeatedly praying aloud, "Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!", according to Judge's biographer and New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly.[16][17]

Shortly after his death, an NYPD lieutenant found Judge's body. He and two firemen, an FDNY Emergency Medical Technician detailed to the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and one civilian bystander then carried Judge's body out of the North Tower. This event was captured in the documentary film 9/11, shot by Jules and Gedeon Naudet. Shannon Stapleton, a photographer from Reuters, photographed Judge's body being carried out of the rubble by the five men.[18] It became one of the most famous images related to 9/11. The Philadelphia Weekly reported that the photograph is "considered an American Pietà."[19] Judge's body was laid before the altar of St. Peter’s Catholic church before being taken to the medical examiner.[citation needed]

Mychal Judge was designated as "Victim 0001" and thereby recognized as the first official victim of the attacks. Although victims had been killed before him, including the crews, passengers, and hijackers of the first three planes, and occupants of the towers and the Pentagon, but Judge was the first certified fatality because his was the first body to be recovered and taken to the medical examiner.[20]

Judge's body was formally identified by NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, a long-time friend. The New York Medical Examiner found that Judge died of "blunt force trauma to the head".[21]

Mourning and honors

3,000 people attended Judge's funeral Mass on September 15, 2001, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, which was presided over by Cardinal Edward Egan, the Archbishop of New York at that time. Former President Bill Clinton, who attended the funeral, said that 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."[22]

Judge was buried in the friars' plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey.[23] On October 11, 2001 Brendan Fay organized A "Month's Mind Memorial" in Good Shepherd Chapel, General Theological Seminary, New York. It was an evening of prayer, stories, traditional Irish music, and personal testimonials about Mychal Judge.

There have been calls within the Roman Catholic Church to canonize Judge (declare his sainthood).[24] While there is no indication that Rome is seriously considering this,[25] several churches independent of Rome, most notably the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America, have declared him a saint.[26][27] Some Catholic leaders recognize Judge as a de facto saint.[28] There have been claims of miraculous healings through prayers to Judge. Evidence of miracles is required for canonization in the Catholic Church.[29]

Judge's fire helmet was presented to Pope John Paul II. France awarded him the Légion d'honneur. Some members of the U.S. Congress have nominated him for the Congressional Gold Medal.[30] as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2002, the City of New York renamed the portion of West 31st Street on which the friary where he lived is located as "Father Mychal F. Judge Street", and christened a commuter ferry, the Father Mychal Judge.[citation needed]

In 2002, the United States Congress passed The Mychal Judge Police and Fire Chaplains Public Safety Officers Benefit Act into law.[31] This was the first time the federal government ever extended equal benefits for same-sex couples, allowing the domestic partners of public safety officers killed in the line of duty to collect their federal death benefit.

The New York Press Club instituted The Rev. Mychal Judge Heart of New York Award, which is presented annually for the news story or series that is most complimentary of New York City.[32]

A campaign has been started in Carlstadt, New Jersey to have a statue of Judge erected in its Memorial Park.[33]

Alvernia University, a private independent college in the Franciscan tradition in Reading, Pennsylvania, named a new residence hall in honor of Judge.[34]

The Father Mychal Judge Memorial in the village of Keshcarrigan, County Leitrim, Ireland was dedicated in 2005, on donated land which had belonged to Judge's ancestors. People from the village and surrounding area celebrate his life every year on the 9/11 anniversary.[35][36]

In 2006 a documentary film, Saint of 9/11, directed by Glenn Holsten, co-produced by Brendan Fay and narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, was released.

Larry Kirwan, leader of the Irish-American band Black 47, wrote a tribute song entitled "Mychal" in honor of Judge that appeared on the band's 2004 album New York Town.[citation needed]

The Father Mychal Judge Walk of Remembrance takes place every year in New York on the Sunday before the 9/11 anniversary. It begins with a Mass at St. Francis Church on West 31st Street, then proceeds to the site of Ground Zero, retracing Judge's final journey and praying along the way.[37] Every September 11, there is a Mass in memory of Judge in Boston, attended by many who lost family members on 9/11.[38]

At the National 9/11 Memorial, Judge is memorialized at the South Pool, on Panel S-18, where other first responders are located.[39]

In 2014 Judge was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display which celebrates LGBT history and people. [40] [41]

Gay orientation and affiliations

Following his death a few of his friends and associates revealed that Judge was gay – as a matter of orientation rather than practice, as he was a celibate priest.[dead link][42][43] According to fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen: "I actually knew about his homosexuality when I was in the Uniformed Firefighters Association. I kept the secret, but then he told me when I became commissioner five years ago. He and I often laughed about it, because we knew how difficult it would have been for the other firemen to accept it as easily as I had. I just thought he was a phenomenal, warm, sincere man, and the fact that he was gay just had nothing to do with anything."[44]

The revelations about Judge's sexual orientation were not without controversy, however. Dennis Lynch, a lawyer, wrote an article about Judge that appeared on the website catholic.org. Lynch claimed that the priest was not gay and that any attempt to define him as gay was due to "homosexual activists" who wanted to "attack the Catholic Church" and turn the priest into "a homosexual icon".[45]

Others refuted Lynch’s claims with evidence that Judge did, in fact, identify himself as gay, both to others and in his personal journals.[46][47]

Judge was a long-term member of Dignity, a Catholic LGBT activist organization that advocates for change in the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.[48][49] On October 1, 1986, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an encyclical, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,[dead link][50] which declared homosexuality to be a "strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil". In response, many bishops, including John Cardinal O'Connor, banned Dignity from diocesan churches under their control. Judge then welcomed Dignity's AIDS ministry to the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, which is under the control of the Franciscan friars, thereby partially circumventing the cardinal's ban of Dignity.[51]

Judge disagreed with official Roman Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality,[52] though by all accounts he remained celibate. Judge often asked, "Is there so much love in the world that we can afford to discriminate against any kind of love?"[53]

References

  1. ^ Hagerty, Barbara Bradley. "Memories Of Sept. 11's First Recorded Casualty Endure". NPR. NPR. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Ford, Michael (September 1, 2002). Judge%2C Robert Emmett&f=false Father Mychal Judge: An Authentic American Hero. Paulist Press. p. 44. Google Books. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  3. ^ Daly, Michael, The Book of Mychal: The Surprising Life and Heroic Death of Father Mychal Judge. St. Martin's Press (2008). pp. 7–19.
  4. ^ a b "Deceased Friars: Mychal F. Judge, O.F.M.". Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province. 
  5. ^ Daly, Michael, Ibid (2008). pp. 30, 31, 46, 81.
  6. ^ "St. Bonaventure honors victims of 9/11 at prayer service, Mass". St. Bonaventure University. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  7. ^ Daly, Michael, Ibid (2008). pp. 23–33.
  8. ^ Daly, Michael, Ibid (2008). pp. 37–77.
  9. ^ Daly, Michael, Ibid (2008). p. 62.
  10. ^ Saint of 9/11 (film) homepage spoken by Mychal McNichols in the film, Saint of 9/11 (2006)
  11. ^ "We Remember" McEntee, Gerald. firedoglake.com. September 9, 2011
  12. ^ Ford, Michael, Father Mychal Judge: An Authentic American Hero. Paulist Press (2002). pp. 107–139.
  13. ^ Saint of 9/11 film, Ibid (2006)
  14. ^ Daly, Michael, Ibid (2008). p. 320.
  15. ^ Ford, Michael, Ibid (2002). pp. 114–115.
  16. ^ (dead link). Daily News (New York). February 11, 2002. "Judge stood alone at a plate glass window overlooking the carnage and devastation. A Fire Department photographer heard him praying aloud, Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!
  17. ^ Daly, Michael, Ibid (2008) p. 336.
  18. ^ Stapleton, Shannon (September 11, 2001). "911". Shannon Stapleton Photojournalist. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  19. ^ Prigge, Matt (May 3, 2006). "Upward Christian Soldier". Philadelphia Weekly.
  20. ^ Daly, Michael, Ibid (2008) p. 347.
  21. ^ Daly, Michael, Ibid (2008) p. 347.
  22. ^ Glenn Holsten (director). Saint of 9/11. Equality Forum. 2006.
  23. ^ "Newspaper Looks at Mychal Judge’s Final Resting Place". Holy Name Province of the Franciscan Friars. 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  24. ^ Shane, Larry (December 25, 2002). "Sainthood call for chaplain rises from Sept.11 ashes". The Seattle Times.
  25. ^ Newman, Andy (2005-09-25). "Admirers of Fallen 9/11 Hero Disdain the Vatican's Likely Plan to Bar Gays as Priests". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  26. ^ "Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M Was Declared a Saint of the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America on July 27, 2002". The Orthodox Catholic Church of America. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  27. ^ "St. Mychal Judge". St. Mychal the Martyr Parish. Retrieved 2006-09-22. 
  28. ^ "Archbishop Dolan's Homily (Mass of Installation)". Archdiocese of New York. April 15, 2009. The Risen Christ is alive in consecrated religious, women and men, in whom Elizabeth Ann Seton, Frances Xavier Cabrini, and Mychal Judge find most worthy heirs… 
  29. ^ Charisse, Jones (June 19, 20). "The Making of Saint Mychal". USA Today.
  30. ^ Thomas, Jocelyn (September 15, 2010). "HNP Today newsletter". Vol. 44, No. 19. Franciscan Friars: Holy Name Province.
  31. ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth (June 27, 2002). "Washington Memo; The Most Unusual Story Behind a Gay Rights Victory". The New York Times.
  32. ^ "The New York Press Club Journalism Awards". New York Press Club. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  33. ^ Fucci, Jeff (2008-03-28). "Sculpted from memories: Statue may be final Judge-ment". Leader (New Jersey). Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  34. ^ "Alvernia College: Undergraduate Housing". Archived from the original on March 29, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-30. Judge Hall, our newest residence hall built in 2005, is named in honor of the late Fr. Mychal Judge, a Franciscan priest who died while ministering to injured firefighters at the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001. 
  35. ^ TeVogt, Jim. (April 19, 2007). "H0307: Fr. Mychal Judge Memorial Near Keshcarrigan". Geograph Britain and Ireland. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  36. ^ "Keshcarrigan Peace Garden to honour memory of 9/11 priest". Leitrim Observer. August 31, 2005.
  37. ^ Johnson, Nicole (September 11, 2006). "FDNY Chaplain Honored At Annual Remembrance Walk". NY1.
  38. ^ McGonegal, Joe (September 16, 2008). "Seven years of healing". Wicked Local.
  39. ^ "South Pool: Panel N-6 - Mychal F. Judge". National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  40. ^ "Legacy Walk honors LGBT 'guardian angels'". chicagotribune.com. 11 October 2014. 
  41. ^ "PHOTOS: 7 LGBT Heroes Honored With Plaques in Chicago's Legacy Walk". Advocate.com. 
  42. ^ Dahir, Mubarak (October 23, 2001), "Our Heroes" (– Scholar search), The Advocate, retrieved 2007-10-24 [dead link]
  43. ^ Cassels, Peter (2001-09-27). "Tributes keep flowing for NYC Fire Dept. chaplain Mychal Judge, one of those who died in the World Trade Center attacks". Bay Windows. Retrieved 2004-04-16. 
  44. ^ Senior, Jennifer (November 12, 2001). "The Firemen's Friar". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2006-09-14. 
  45. ^ Lynch, Dennis (June 26, 2002). "A September 11th Hijacking". Catholic Online.
  46. ^ Daly, Michael, Ibid (2008). pp. 86, 301–302.
  47. ^ A Gay Saint in fact
  48. ^ Newman, Andy (2005-09-25). "Admirers of Fallen 9/11 Hero Disdain the Vatican's Likely Plan to Bar Gays as Priests". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  49. ^ "What is Dignity?" DignityUSA.[dead link]
  50. ^ "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons". DignityUSA.[dead link]
  51. ^ Ford, Michael, Ibid (2002). pp. 119–120.
  52. ^ Ford, Michael, Ibid (2002). p. 182.
  53. ^ Ford, Michael, Ibid (2002). p. 124.

Further reading

  • Ford, Michael (2002). Father Mychal Judge: An Authentic American Hero. Paulist Press. ISBN 0-8091-0552-7. 
  • Lynch, Kelly Ann (2007). He Said Yes: The Story of Father Mychal Judge. Paulist Press (illustrated children's book). ISBN 978-0-8091-6740-1. 
  • Daly, Michael (2008). The Book of Mychal: The Surprising Life and Heroic Death of Father Mychal Judge. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-30150-2. 
  • Sapienza, Salvatore (2011). Mychal's Prayer: Praying with Father Mychal Judge. Tregatti Press. ISBN 0-615-47331-8. 

External links