The ninth anniversary of Sept. 11, as this milestone has in the past, reminded the public and friars of the Province that the late Mychal Judge, OFM, is as much a beloved figure in his death as he was in his ministry.
As Sept. 11 was marked last week, Mychal’s memory was recognized in the New York area, where several commemorations focused on his ministry and work with the firefighters. A service was also held at his graveside in Totowa, N.J. Special Masses were also celebrated at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York and at other ministries of Holy Name Province.
Commemorations began in New York City on Sept. 5 with the annual Fr. Mychal Judge Walk of Remembrance. Beginning with a Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in New York City, the walk followed Mychal’s route to Ground Zero, stopping at fire houses along the way. The walk was founded by Steven McDonald, a police officer shot in the line of duty, and friend of Mychal.
‘Blessed Bloomers’ Distributed
On Sept. 11, a Saturday this year, volunteers from Mychal’s Message, an organization that promotes the work and ministry of the fallen friar, gave out nearly 500 gifts of underwear and socks to guests on the 7 a.m. breadline at St. Francis of Assisi on 31st Street. Among the friars participating that sunny morning were Michael Carnevale, OFM, director of St. Francis Breadline, and St. Francis Friary residents Patrick Fitzgerald, OFM, and Robert Gavin, OFM.
The “Blessed Bloomers” program began after Sept. 11, when volunteers handed out socks to people lining up for breakfast and a bag lunch on the food line.
“It was during that first sock distribution in New York City that a dark-skinned, round-faced man leaned in to quietly ask us, ‘Do you happen to have any underwear?’” said Shannon Hickey, founder of Mychal’s Message with her mother, Kelly Lynch, a Secular Franciscan. The Hickey-Lynch family became close to Mychal when they were parishioners at St. Joseph Church, East Rutherford, N.J., where Mychal was a member of the team ministry in the early 1970s.
This was the ninth anniversary of ‘Blessed Bloomers’ for Mychal’s Message. Members of the organization traveled from the Mychal Message headquarters in Lancaster, Pa., to New York to distribute Blessed Bloomers bundles, containing one undershirt, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, two mints and a prayer card. All underwear was given to or purchased by the organization using donated funds, said Lynch.
DVD Released of Mychal’s Last Homily
In addition, the organization announced the availability of a new DVD featuring Mychal’s last homily, as well as a photo montage, video clips of Mychal singing America the Beautiful and reciting the Prayer of St. Francis.
On Sept. 10, 2001, as Father Mychal was rededicating Firehouse Engine 73, Ladder 42 in the Bronx, he spoke these words: “You have no idea what God is calling you to. But he needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us.” That would be his last homily.
“Mychal had a practical, down-to-earth approach to life,” said Cassian Miles, OFM, a classmate and longtime friend of Mychal. “His last homily goes to the heart of the Christian message about our dependence on God and how we must rely on His love and care to guide us.”
The DVD, which debuted at the Walk of Remembrance, can be ordered online for a suggested donation of $20 that will benefit the homeless and poor through Mychal’s Message. It was produced by Room G03 Films in Albany, N.Y.
Special Masses Celebrated
Parishes and schools throughout the Province also marked Sept. 11 with special events.
Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, presided at the liturgy on Sept. 11 at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y., which also held a prayer service the day before to commemorate alumni who died as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At Siena, president Kevin Mullen, OFM, celebrated a memorial Mass.
In Triangle, Va., St. Francis of Assisi Parish offered a special prayer at each Mass for peace and reconciliation. “All the victims of terror were remembered, but those from the county were prayed for by name, and the parents of the one parishioner who died at the Pentagon were here; they went to the special memorial service at the Pentagon on Saturday,” said Charles Miller, OFM, pastor.
At St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, FDNY chaplain Christopher Keenan, OFM, presided and preached at a memorial Mass at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 11 for those who died at the World Trade Center, especially the members of Battalion 7 of the Fire Department of New York.
In New Jersey, Daniel Grigassy, OFM, pastor of St. Bonaventure Church, Paterson, celebrated a memorial Mass for those who died on Sept. 11. A prayer service followed at Mychal’s grave in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa.
The Knights of Columbus Council #240 of St. Bonaventure Church sponsored the service, along with Daniel,Christian Camadella, OFM, and Christopher VanHaight, OFM, and the parish’s Secular Franciscans. The Bells of Remembrance were brought to the event by David Schlatter, OFM.
At Assumption Church in Wood-Ridge, N.J., Brian Cullinane, OFM, pastor, held a memorial service at Veterans Park at 10 a.m. Brian gave the invocation. The Knights of Columbus from the parish held a nearby blood drive.
In Boston, the community of St. Anthony Shrine commemorated the anniversary on both Saturday and Sunday. The commemorations included a display on the altar with the lit paschal candle and the folded American flag, red drapery and dozens of red roses and a Wall of Remembrance with all the names was placed on the walls in front of the shrine and all day people stopped to pray both at the wall and inside the church, according to vicar John Maganzini, OFM. All Masses that weekend began with the thoughts expressed in the recent message from John O’Connor, OFM, and Dominic Monti, OFM, “Reflections Approaching Sept. 11, 2010: Franciscan Lift Voices Against Tide of Anti-Muslim Rhetoric,” said John, and the Masses included special songs and a special closing prayer.
— Compiled by Wendy Healy and Jocelyn Thomas