Mychal Judge, OFM
1933 – 2001
Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 11, 1933. After one year at St. Francis Prep in Brooklyn, he enrolled at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y.
In 1954, he was received into the Province at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., and professed temporary vows the following year. Fr. Mychal professed solemn vows in 1958 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1961 in Washington, D.C.
Fr. Mychal served in a variety of priestly roles, beginning with a year at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, then as parochial vicar at St. Joseph in East Rutherford, N.J., until 1966, and at Sacred Heart in Rochelle Park, N.J.
After a year as moderator of the Secular Franciscans at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, he returned to East Rutherford as guardian and coordinator of the team ministry for six years. Then came a stint in academe as assistant to the president of Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y.
Fr. Mychal returned to parochial work in 1979 as pastor of St. Joseph Church in West Milford, N.J., until 1985 when he took a renewal year at the Franciscan Study Centre in Canterbury, England while serving as a supply chaplain to a U.S. Air Force installation.
Returning to St. Francis Church in 1986, he assisted the W. 31st Street parish until being appointed chaplain to the fire department in early 1992.
Fr. Mychal was a “Big Apple” priest all the way. The easy swing in his gait, the panache, the big-time energy, the heart-on-the-sleeve commitment to New York City as the capital of the world and an instinct for action all resulted in his knowing and being known by many of the City’s significant movers and doers. In 1996, he was deeply involved with the grieving loved ones of the 230 people killed when TWA flight 800 crashed in the waters off Long Island.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Mychal died while administering Last Rites to New York City firefighters at the scene of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. His official death certificate was No. 1 of thousands to be issued.
His untimely death while serving in the midst of a great tragedy captured headlines across the country. People from all walks of life mourned him. Fr. Mychal’s death touched and inspired many who struggled to understand the terrorist attacks and who were deeply moved by his heroic actions.
Fr. Mychal was 68 years old, a professed Franciscan for 46 years and a priest for 40 years.