Remembering NYC Fire Dept. Chaplain Mychal Judge

The late Mychal Judge, a Chaplain with the New York City Fire Department

The late Mychal Judge, a Chaplain with the New York City Fire Department Ed Betz/AP File Photo

A man for all seasons.

On this day 13 years ago, my friend Mychal Judge, a Franciscan who served as New York City Fire Department’s chaplain, gave the last rights to a downed firefighter in the World Trade Center and then was killed by falling debris minutes later as he continued to minister to the fallen.

I got to know Mike in a variety of church basements around New York and came to appreciate his insight, wisdom and sense of humor, as well as his dedication to the fire department and folks he met in those church basements.

Mike also knew the truly rough side of New York – living and working out of the friary on West 31st St., just blocks from Penn Station. In Irish Catholic New York, you knew if you had some really bad sins, the 31st St. church was the place to confess – the priests there, including Mike, had heard it all.

James R. Kelly, a professor and sociologist at Fordham University, told The New York Times in 2002 Mike’s death “while ministering to firefighters in the heart of horror was the perfect image of selflessness …. He was a man for all seasons – even a season of tragedy.”