Priest Dies While Helping Victims in New York Tragedy

Franciscan Father Michael Judge Lived Close to the Needy

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 13, 2001 ( Father Michael F. Judge, OFM, met his death while administering the sacraments to the wounded and dying in the attack on New York´s World Trade Center.

The Irish Franciscan, 68, was chaplain of the New York City Fire Department; in his ministry, he faced many tragic situations.

Father Judge lived in a monastery near Manhattan´s Penn Station, but spent much of his time in the city´s hospitals and firehouses.

Whenever firefighters fell in the line of duty, Father Judge consoled their families and spoke at their funerals. He formed a close friendship with Steven MacDonald, a city police officer who was paralyzed by a teen-age gunman in 1986.

When TWA Flight 800 crashed off Long Island, Father Judge was there to comfort devastated relatives and shell-shocked rescuers.

After the attack on the first of Manhattan´s twin towers, Father Judge arrived on the scene with one of the first groups of firefighters. He immediately began to give absolution to the wounded. Minutes later, the tower collapsed, crushing many victims, including the Franciscan.

According to a statement of the Franciscan Province of the Holy Name in New York, to which Father Judge belonged, «Father Michael died doing what he loved most, next to the people he loved most, the needy.

«Father Michael´s body was taken to St. Peter´s Church on Barclay Street, and placed in the sanctuary next to the bodies of his companions, the firefighters. Details of his funeral will soon be made known.»

«May he and all the victims of the disaster rest in peace,» the Franciscan statement ends.

Michael Judge made his religious vows 46 ago and was ordained a priest 40 years ago.

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