|The Rev. Father
Mychal F. Judge, O.F.M.
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.
|Birth name||Robert Emmett Judge|
May 11, 1933|
Brooklyn, New York,
|Died||September 11, 2001
World Trade Center,
New York, New York,
|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.
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.
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 and 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."
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. At that time, he was given the religious name of Fallon Michael. (He later dropped 'Fallon' and changed 'Michael' to the Gaelic form, Mychal). He resumed his college studies at St. Bonaventure University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1957. He professed his solemn vows as a full member of the Order in 1958. 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.
After his ordination, Judge was assigned to the Shrine of St. Anthony in Boston, Massachusetts. Following his assignment there, he served in various parishes served by the Franciscans: 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 Franciscans 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.
Around 1971, Judge developed alcoholism, 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.
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." He was a member of AFSCME Local 299 (District Council 37).
Judge was also well known in the city 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. 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.
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." Judge's former spiritual director, former Jesuit John J. McNeill, observed that Judge achieved an "extraordinary degree of union with the divine. We knew we were dealing with someone directly in line with God."
September 11 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 prayed over 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.
Shortly after his death, an NYPD lieutenant found Judge's body. He and two firemen, a 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. It became one of the most famous images related to 9/11. The Philadelphia Weekly reported that the photograph is "considered an American Pietà." Judge's body was laid before the altar of St. Peter’s Catholic Church before being taken to the medical examiner. 
Mychal Judge was designated as "Victim 0001" and thereby recognized as the first official victim of the attacks. Although others had been killed before him, including the crews, passengers, and hijackers of the first three planes, and occupants of the towers and the Pentagon, Judge was the first certified fatality because his was the first body to be recovered and taken to the medical examiner.
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 then Archbishop of New York. 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."
Judge was buried in the friars' plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey. 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 Judge.
There have been calls within the Roman Catholic Church to canonize Judge. While there is no indication that Rome is seriously considering this, several churches independent of Rome, most notably the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America, have declared him a saint. Some Catholic leaders recognize Judge as a de facto saint. There have been claims of miraculous healings through prayers to Judge. Evidence of miracles is required for canonization in the Catholic Church.
Judge's fire helmet was presented to Pope John Paul II. France awarded him the Légion d'honneur. Some members of the United States Congress have nominated him for the Congressional Gold Medal. 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.
In 2002, the United States Congress passed The Mychal Judge Police and Fire Chaplains Public Safety Officers Benefit Act into law. The law extended federal death benefits to chaplains of police and fire departments, and also marked the first time the federal government extended equal benefits for same-sex couples by allowing the domestic partners of public safety officers killed in the line of duty to collect a federal death benefit.
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.
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.
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. Every September 11, there is a Mass in memory of Judge in Boston, attended by many who lost family members on 9/11.
In 2015 a statue was dedicated to Judge at St. Joseph's Park in East Rutherford, New Jersey, across the street from St. Joseph's Parish where he served for several years.
Gay orientation and affiliations
Following his death, a few of Judge's friends and associates revealed that Judge was gay – as a matter of orientation rather than practice, as he was a celibate priest. According to Fire Department 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."
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 Judge 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". Others refuted Lynch’s claims with evidence that Judge did in fact identify himself as gay, both to others and in his personal journals.
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. On October 1, 1986, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an encyclical, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 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.
Judge disagreed with official Roman Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality, 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?"
- Hagerty, Barbara Bradley. "Memories Of Sept. 11's First Recorded Casualty Endure". NPR. NPR. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- Ford (2002), p. 44
- Daly (2008), pp. 7–19
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- Daly (2008), pp. 30, 31, 46, 81
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- Daly (2008), pp. 23–33
- Daly (2008), pp. 37–77
- Daly (2008), p. 62
- Saint of 9/11 (film) homepage spoken by Mychal McNichols in the film, Saint of 9/11 (2006)
- "We Remember" McEntee, Gerald. firedoglake.com. September 9, 2011
- Ford (2002), pp. 107–139
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- Daly (2008), p. 320
- Ford (2002), pp. 114–115
- (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!
- Daly (2008), p. 336
- Stapleton, Shannon (September 11, 2001). "911". Shannon Stapleton Photojournalist. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
- Prigge, Matt (May 3, 2006). "Upward Christian Soldier". Philadelphia Weekly.
- Daly (2008), p. 343
- Daly (2008), p. 347
- Glenn Holsten (director). Saint of 9/11. Equality Forum. 2006.
- "Newspaper Looks at Mychal Judge's Final Resting Place". Holy Name Province of the Franciscan Friars. 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
- Shane, Larry (December 25, 2002). "Sainthood call for chaplain rises from Sept.11 ashes". The Seattle Times.
- 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.
- "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.
- "St. Mychal Judge". St. Mychal the Martyr Parish. Retrieved 2006-09-22.
- "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.
- Charisse, Jones (June 19, 20). "The Making of Saint Mychal". USA Today.
- Thomas, Jocelyn (September 15, 2010). "HNP Today newsletter". Vol. 44, No. 19. Franciscan Friars: Holy Name Province.
- Bumiller, Elisabeth (June 27, 2002). "Washington Memo; The Most Unusual Story Behind a Gay Rights Victory". The New York Times.
- "The New York Press Club Journalism Awards". New York Press Club. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
- Fucci, Jeff (2008-03-28). "Sculpted from memories: Statue may be final Judge-ment". Leader (New Jersey). Retrieved 2008-04-14.
- "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.
- TeVogt, Jim. (April 19, 2007). "H0307: Fr. Mychal Judge Memorial Near Keshcarrigan". Geograph Britain and Ireland. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
- "Keshcarrigan Peace Garden to honour memory of 9/11 priest". Leitrim Observer. August 31, 2005.
- Kirwan, Larry. "Black 47 Album Stories". The Reel Book. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- Johnson, Nicole (September 11, 2006). "FDNY Chaplain Honored At Annual Remembrance Walk". NY1.
- McGonegal, Joe (September 16, 2008). "Seven years of healing". Wicked Local.
- "South Pool: Panel N-6 - Mychal F. Judge". National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
- "Legacy Walk honors LGBT 'guardian angels'". chicagotribune.com. 11 October 2014.
- "PHOTOS: 7 LGBT Heroes Honored With Plaques in Chicago's Legacy Walk". Advocate.com.
- Dahir, Mubarak (October 23, 2001), "Our Heroes" (– Scholar search), The Advocate, retrieved 2007-10-24
- 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.
- Senior, Jennifer (November 12, 2001). "The Firemen's Friar". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2006-09-14.
- Lynch, Dennis (June 26, 2002). "A September 11th Hijacking". Catholic Online.
- Daly (2008), pp. 86, 301–302
- A Gay Saint in fact
- "What is Dignity?" DignityUSA.
- "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons". DignityUSA.
- Ford (2002), pp. 119–120
- Ford (2002), p. 182
- Ford (2002), p. 124
- 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.
- Sapienza, Salvatore (2011). Mychal's Prayer: Praying with Father Mychal Judge. Tregatti Press. ISBN 0-615-47331-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mychal Judge.|
- Saint Mychal Judge website
- Fire Chaplain Becomes Larger than Life
- The Happiest Man on Earth: Eulogy of Fr. Mychal Judge
- Rev Mychal "Father Mike" Judge entry at Find A Grave
- An RTE Radio 1 documentary 'Victim No. 0001', September 3, 2011, describes his life and work
- An NPR Radio clip 'Slain Priest: 'Bury His Heart, But Not His Love
- Saint of 9/11 at the Internet Movie Database