Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Saint Of 9/11"

On Thursday night, I watched a very moving documentary entitled, "Saint of 9/11." It was about the life and times of Father Mychal Judge, the FDNY chaplain who was one of the first FDNY casualties during the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

My father is a 36-year retired lieutenant from the FDNY, and he knew Father Judge. I will never forget late in the evening of that most horrible day him telling me about Father Judge, and he used the word "saint" to describe him. So, seeing this documentary meant that much more to me.

It is a loving tribute to man who was devoted to God, the people of New York City and the New York City Fire Department. The documentary was made by Glenn Holsten in 2006 and is narrated by the actor Ian McKellan. It goes into detail about the Franciscan priest's early life in New York, his becoming a priest in 1961, his ministry as a priest in New Jersey and his eventually becoming a chaplain in the FDNY. Many who knew him are interviewed.

It also details how he reached out to the families of the TWA Flight 800 crash in 1996, and how he was a pillar of strength for those who lost loved ones. It also chronicles his trips to Ireland, the land where his parents were born, and how he reached out not only to Catholics but Protestants as well, and became a respected and loved man to those who suffered so much in the violence there.

"Saint Of 9/11" also details not only Father Judge's service to New York's firefighters, but to the homeless of the city as well. Former homeless people are interviewed with their loving remembrances of a man who not only reached out to them, but would treat them like a member of his family. The film also deals with the way Father Judge dealt with one his demons: alcoholism, and how he overcame it and became a better man.

The documentary also details the fact that Father Judge was a closeted gay man. He did not want his sexuality to become an issue with those firefighters he loved and respected so much. It also goes into his work with AIDS and HIV patients in New York when so little was known about the disease in the early 1980s and there was nothing but a climate of fear surrounding it. Father Judge felt his calling to reach out to those unfortunate people. At first he was mistrusted because he was a Catholic priest, but he found a way into those people's hearts and became a trusted and loved person in that community.

Of course, Father Judge is best known for his sacrifice on the morning of September 11, 2001. He had the opportunity to leave the World Trade Center but would not do so and leave his comrades behind. I was really moved by this 90 minute documentary of a very holy and selfless man who devotion to the sufferings of others is incredibly inspiring.

I would definitely recommend "Saint Of 9/11." It is a loving tribute to a beautiful man of God who is terribly missed by all who knew him and were touched by his kindness and his mission.


Michael Leggett said...

Real Name is Robert Emmett Judge:

He went to the Original St Francis Preparatory on Court & Butler Streets in Brooklyn & discovered his Vocation, there;

Requicant In Pacem, Mychal

The Omnipotent Q said...

Nicely said, Michael.

redtown said...

Someone has said, "Mychal Judge is proof of the existence of God." His entire life was as heroic as his death on 9/11. Mychal Judge is, in fact, a saint whether or not he is formally canonized.

From talking with people who knew him, Mychal Judge was not so much "closeted" as a gay man, but "selectively open" about it. He was upfront in acknowledging it when supporting the rights of gays in the Church, or in ministering to gays who were alienated by the bishops.

His biography is well worth reading: "Father Mychal Judge: An Authentic American Hero" by Michael Ford (Paulist Press).

Also, here's an inspiring website on Mychal's life and death:

Michael Leggett said...

I thank You, Omnipotent One:

I once got that info from a Graduate of The Prep, from the 1940s', a few days after 9/11.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Thank you, Redtown, for your take and the info on Father Mychal.

Michael Leggett said...

Ok, oh, "Omnipotent One";

My blog is now carrying a link from The Title, direct to you;

This way, The Catholic World will read your story & comment on it.

The Omnipotent Q said...

My thanks to you Michael, for the link.

Michael Leggett said...

And I've gotten a bit emotional reading the story, over the past few days.

redtown said...

Here's a quote by Father Mychal Judge (from his biography by Michael Ford):

"If no one told you today that they love you, let me tell you, I love you, and no matter what mess you're in, you're always held and loved by God".

Like Christ, Mychal didn't just talk the talk-- he walked the walk -- right into the WTC on 9/11 which became his cross. He lived and died according to his famous prayer, called "Mychal's Prayer"--

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.


The Omnipotent Q said...

Beautiful words, Redtown. The documentary showed Father Judge saying that very prayer (as read by Ian McKellan).

Hard not to get emotional watching the documentary, Michael...