The Catholic Parish of
Saint John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds

A Courageous Priest.

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There can be few events more horrific and heart rending than the terrorist attack on the twin towers of the Trade Centre in New York’s financial district on the morning of September 11th 2001.

On that morning I was out walking my dog, when a neighbour told me that there had been a terrible plane accident in America. Upon arriving home I turned on the television to see a picture of a plane crashing into a building, I assumed it was a film and changed channels only to find this was showing on all channels. Only then did I begin to realise the immense tragedy enfolding. The death toll on that sunny September morning was 2,973, including 343 brave fire-fighters.

One of the many victims on that day was a Catholic Priest named Fr Mychal Judge, a fire department chaplain. Mychal Judge was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1933, his parents having emigrated from Ireland. Fr Mychal joined the Franciscan Friars and was ordained a priest in 1961, serving in many parishes in New Jersey, before being assigned to the Friary of St Francis of Assisi in Manhattan. In 1999, Fr Judge was appointed a fire department chaplain and often joked that he always wanted to be either a priest or a fireman, but never expected to be both. He was a familiar figure in the city, dressed in his brown Franciscan robe, or in his smart fire department chaplain’s uniform.

He was administering the last rites to a fire fighter at the twin towers, when he was killed by a hail of steel and concrete falling on top of him. His white chaplain’s helmet was accepted by Pope John Paul II when some of the New York Fire-fighters visited the Vatican the following year. No American can ever recall the tragic events of 9/11 without paying a lasting tribute to the courage of an exceptional priest, Father Mychal Judge.

“We live life in little moments that are soon gone. Enjoy each day and grasp hold of the moment now.”

Published Fri 28th Jun 2013 10:34:46

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