New Pictorial Exhibit Celebrates Franciscan Friars 40 Years as FDNY Chaplains

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New York City On Monday, Feb. 28th at 11 a.m., the New York City Fire Museum will be hosting the grand opening of their new historical exhibit, “FDNY Franciscan Chaplain History,” which showcases the 40 year history of the Franciscan friars as FDNY chaplains. The historical exhibit will be hosted by the firefighters at Fire Engine 1, Ladder 24, 143 W. 34th Street, across the street from the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the Provincial Office. It will serve as an extension of the New York City Fire Museum’s history on FDNY chaplains. 

The 18-piece exhibit will consist of various photographs of the three chaplains, the Bell of Remembrance commissioned by Br. David Schlatter, OFM, and the new Mychal Judge Archives, which consists of  700+ items related to Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, who sacrificed his life during the 9/11 attacks.

Since 1981, Franciscan friars from Holy Name Province have been chaplains for the FDNY. The first chaplain was Fr. Julian Deeken, OFM, who was then succeeded in 1991 by Fr. Mychal, who is still remembered today for his selflessness during 9/11. 

Fr. Chris Keenan, OFM, is the last OFM FDNY chaplain, with his retirement in 2021. Throughout his time as chaplain, he gathered materials for the development of the 700+ entries that make up the Mychal Judge Archives, and now that history will continue to be preserved by Engine 1/Ladder 24 firefighters on behalf of the NYC Fire Museum. 

Gary Urbanowitz, director of the NYC Fire Museum and project manager of the exhibit, and Katherine Perez, exhibit curator, have been working together over the last year to put this exhibit together. 

“I was happy to initially catalog the boxes of entries and most grateful that Kat Perez, of our Project Team, completed the cataloging and scanned all 700+ archived items,” said Gary. “On behalf of the 14,000 FDNY first responders, we are grateful that this exhibit will honor the Franciscan Brothers of Holy Name Province, who missioned these three chaplains to serve the City of New York. ”

A summary of the contents of the Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, Archives can be found on Holy Name Province’s website. Those who are interested in viewing a specific item from the collection are encouraged to contact the FDNY Museum at (212) 691-1303.