Where He Was Needed
The Rev. Mychal Judge never shut his door at the Midtown Franciscan friary, literally or emotionally. Anybody with the slightest need for the contents inside — be it a warm jacket or his attentive ear — was welcome.
Not that Father Judge was often in. As chaplain to the New York Fire Department, Father Judge, 68, could be found joking or comforting firefighters or driving hellbent to emergencies. When a boatload of Chinese refugees were shipwrecked in the Rockaways, he was one of the first there, "handing out blankets and coffee and telling them jokes," said Peter Johnson, a friend. "They didn't know English, but he was doing pantomime and they were laughing."
He had "movie-star looks and a tremendous ability to speak and sing," said Mr. Johnson. "And that was tempered by his absolute consistent devotion to being a priest." He wore his friar's robes to soup kitchens, to Gracie Mansion, to the White House, to countless baptisms and funerals.
He had no use — none — for physical things, said Steven McDonald, the police officer paralyzed by a gunshot who accompanied Father Judge on peace trips to Belfast. Give the father a cashmere sweater, he said, and it would wind up on the back of a homeless person. Go to him with a troubled soul and he would listen intently for as long as it took. He went where he was needed. On Sept. 11, he faced the inferno with the firefighters.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 31, 2001.
September 13, 2001
Mychal Judge, 68, Chaplain for Fire Dept.
The Rev. Mychal F. Judge, a chaplain with the New York City Fire Department since 1992, died amid a rain of debris at the World Trade Center on Tuesday as he ministered to victims. He was 68 and lived in a Franciscan friary across West 31st Street from a firehouse.
His head was struck by debris, according to friars at the Holy Name Province of the Franciscan Friars.
Firefighters carried his body to St. Peter's Church on Barclay Street, then to the firehouse.
Father Judge, who was born in Brooklyn, joined the friars 46 years ago. He was an assistant to the president of Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., before becoming pastor of St. Joseph's Church in West Milford, N.J., in 1979. In 1986, he became a pastor at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street in Manhattan.
When Trans World Airways Flight 800 exploded off Long Island in 1996, Father Judge helped console families of victims, said the Rev. Charles Miller of the province.
Father Judge went with his friend Steven McDonald, a New York police officer who was shot and paralyzed in 1986, on a recent peace mission to Northern Ireland, Father Miller said.
He is survived by two sisters, Erin McTernan and Dymphna Jessich, both of Berlin, Md.
Editorial Obituary published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 13, 2001.