By Richard Ammon
September 12, 2011
Many stories circulate about this Catholic clergyman, a Franciscan friar; about his past alcoholism; his down-to-earth style of ministering; chaplain for the New York Fire Department; saying mass in the local firehouse; dubbed the ‘Saint of 9/11,’ in a 2006 documentary; his private homosexual orientation; his friendships with homeless people, rock-and-rollers, recovering alcoholics, local politicians, and middle-aged couples from the suburbs; and his love of Irish music…
In a word, Mychal Judge was a man of cross-cultural compassion whose hazel eyes saw a person’s soul and the good in each regardless of their world circumstances. A man whose ecclesiastical training was set in one doctrinal system but who embraced all doctrines. No divisions, no prejudice, no boundaries.
He was a good man in the most real sense of the word: benevolent, a person who (from Middle High German ‘gatern’) united differences and offered his heart to those who lost theirs or were weak in spirit.
I doubt there a better way to describe to describe Mychal Judge–or Jesus himself–two men who died before their time serving others.
The lesson we could all learn from the gay hero of 9/11:
Brendan Fay, a friend of the priest, said of him: “On 9/11, the one thing we can take from Mychal Judge is, in the midst of this hell and war and evil and violence, here is this man who directs us to another possible path as human beings. We can choose the path of compassion and non-violence and reconciliation. Mychal Judge had a heart as big as New York. There was room for everybody. And I think that’s the lesson.”