Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering Mychal Judge

When I think on all the lives lost today, the most visual image I have is of Fr. Mychal Judge being carried away from the rubble by a group of firefighters he had to come assist. Fr. Michal was a friar at Siena College, where I went to school along with many other readers of this blog. He was known for compassion, sincerity, and sacrifice.

After the first tower was hit, Fr. Mychal ran to the World Trade to assist both physically and spirtually the many rescue workers who were already on the scene. One of the first people he encountered was Mayor Guiliani who turned to him, resting his hand on his shoulder, and said,"Please pray for us, Mike".

"I always do," he responded.

He then proceeded to enter the building with the other rescuers in an attempt to usher everyone out, and even help carry some of the injured firefighters. When he went in to administer the Sacrament of Last Rights to a gravely injured fireman, an explosion rocked the lobby, killing him instantly.

One of the most famous images from this day (pictured above) is that of rescuers carrying his body out of the rubble. They carried him to St. Peter's Church a few blocks away. They laid his lifeless body on the altar, covered it in a white sheet, and rested his helmet and badge on his chest.

The men prayed and a short while later, the towers came down.

I distinclty remember an interview Fr. Mychal's nephew gave after the tragedy. He said that his uncle firmly believed that God gave every person only as much as He knew they could handle. For that reason, the nephew believed this may have been too much for his uncle, and so he was taken.

He also believed his uncle to now be an angel of God, with his first blessing bestowed on the firement who carried him out. This act was to honor him, and in doing so, kept them from danger as they would surely have been in the towers when they came down.

Fr. Mychal Judge is listed as the first victim of 9/11 and he was among the first buried.

The greatest honor to pay all of those who have been buried is to promise that their memories never will be.


This Magic Moment said...

What a nice tribute in your posting. I was so touched by this same story that I wanted to give the name Mychal to one of my children!!(but I had two girls!!!)Thanks for sharing this!!!

jmKelley said...

Even prior to his heroic death on 9/11, Father Mychal Judge, was widely seen by many New Yorkers as a living saint for his deep spirituality and his extraordinary work not only with firefighters -- but with the homeless, recovering alcoholics, people with AIDS, immigrants, gays and lesbians, and others rejected by society.

This often annoyed the Roman church hierarchy. But like his spiritual father St. Francis of Assisi, Mychal reported directly to a Higher Authority, as evidenced by several medically documented, several miraculous healings through him.

Here’s the last Homily he gave, on Sept. 10, 2001, at a Mass for firefighters, but it's really a call to all of us --


“You do what God has called you to do.
You go out and do the job.
No matter how big the call, no matter how small,
you have no idea of what God is calling you to, but
God needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us.
God needs us to keep supporting each other,
to be kind to each other, to love each other….

“We love this job, we all do. What a blessing it is !
It’s a difficult, difficult job, but God calls you to do it,
and indeed, He gives you a love for it
so that a difficult job will be well done.

“Isn’t God wonderful ?!
Isn’t He good to you, to each one of you, and to me ?
Turn to God each day --
put your faith, your trust, your hope and your life in His hands.
He’ll take care of you and you’ll have a good life.
And this firehouse will be a great blessing
to this neighborhood and to this city.

Father Mychal, pray for us.