Father Mychal Judge OFM
1933 – 2001
I felt I had to add this page to the site, as I’ve just finished reading Michael Ford’s brilliant book Father Mychal Judge – An Authentic American Hero.

On the morning that the twin towers collapsed I was working in the newsroom of my newspaper, The Universe Catholic weekly, based in Manchester, and we all stood in horrified silence as those terrible events unfolded. Several days later Catholic News Service in Washington posted a photograph by Reuters photographer Shannon Stapleton that has become known as “The American Pieta”, showing NY firefighters carrying the dead body of Mychal out of the ruins of the north tower, still clutching his rosary beads and holy water bottle.

That image now stands proudly in a frame above our newsdesk, with the words: “greater love than this hath no man, than to lay down his life for his friends ...”

Fr Mychal stands as a daily example to our newsteam, but I had no inkling until I read Michael Ford’s book that Fr. Mychal and I shared the same roots. Mychal’s mother, Mary Fallon, hailed from Drumkeerin, just a few miles away from Creevelea, the last Franciscan friary to be founded in Ireland before the suppression of the monasteries in the 16th century. In the centre of the north aisle of the irregularly shaped cloister are a number of pillars with carvings, one in particular showing St. Francis receiving the stigmata.

Creevalea is also the last resting place of a number of the Kellys of Corglancy, as well as other direct relations such as the Whytes.

Mychal’s father hailed from Keshcarrigan near Carrick-on-Shannon, and he met Mary for the first time on a ship heading across the Atlantic to New York in the 1920s. Mychal was born Robert Emmett Judge in Brooklyn on 11th May 1933.

World Trade Center, September 11, 2001

Upon hearing the news that the World Trade Center had been hit by hijacked jetliners, Father Mychal rushed to the site where he was met by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who asked Judge to pray for the city and its victims. Judge then rushed to those lying on the streets to administer last rites. It was while giving the holy sacrament to firefighter Daniel Suhr that Father Mychal removed his helmet and was struck by falling debris. He continued administering last rites even while injured. Father Mychal then entered the lobby of the World Trade Center north tower where an emergency services command post was organized. The south tower collapsed and debris filled the north tower lobby killing many inside, including Father Mychal. Five individuals took Judge outside in their arms. Upon entering the outside courtyard, they propped his body in a chair they found to carry him down the outside steps. It was then that Reuters photographer Shannon Stapleton snapped one of the most famous images of the attack, of a police officer, two firefighters and an OEM responder carrying out their fallen spiritual leader.
Some individuals have heralded the photograph as an American Pietà, in reference to the marble sculpture by Michelangelo of the Blessed Virgin Mary cradling the lifeless body of Jesus. Father Judge's body bag was labeled "Victim 0001," recognized as the first official victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Former President of the United States Bill Clinton was among the 3,000 people who attended his funeral, held on September 15 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan. It was presided by Archbishop Edward Egan. President Clinton said his death was "a special loss. We should live his life as an example of what has to prevail." Father Mychal was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey. He was survived by two sisters, Erin McTernan and Dympna Jessich.

A campaign has begun for the elevation of Father Mychal to sainthood:  http://www.saintmychal.com/

Mychal wrote a special prayer that has become famous:

   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.

Please remember Mychal in your prayers.
Corglancy.net  tracing my family roots
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