By Tina Pappas Passaic Valley Today
Totowa – A ceremony was held Wednesday at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery to honor Father Mychal Judge, the Franciscan friar and chaplain of the New York City Fire Department who died during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Judge was buried at the cemetery in the Franciscan Fathers plot section for the Catholic Archdiocese of Paterson. The ceremony also paid tribute to all those who perished and survived that day.
The Knights of Columbus Paterson Council 240, supported by the Knights of Columbus in Totowa Council 6574, including borough council members, led the ceremony in honor of Father Judge, who was the first certified fatality following the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11. Judge had rushed to the buildings upon learning they were hit and was in the lobby of the North Tower where an emergency command port was centered. He continued to aid and pray for the rescuers, the injured and the dead when the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. It sent flying debris through the North Tower, killing and inuring many, including Judge, when he was stuck [sic] in the head and killed [sic].
Judge was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Irish immigrant parents and grew up during the Great Depression. His compassion for the poor began at an early age, when his father died when he was 6 and he took to shoe shining at New York Penn Station. It was there he would often visit St. Francis of Assisi Church and the Franciscan friars and realized he wanted to become one of them.
He was appointed a chaplain to the FDNY in 1992, offering counseling and prayers for firemen and their families at fires, rescues and hospitals. He was also well known for mentoring to those who were homeless, recovering Judge had a profound effect on countless lives and many were amazed with how hard he worked to help others.
“He sometimes worked 16 hour days. He was amazing.”
Also present was Aimee Kass of Ramsey, who said she was riveted by Judge’s legacy upon hearing his story post 9/11. She became devoted to his memory after researching the work he had done all throughout his life.
“I try to visit each year when I learned he was buried here,” said Kass. “They say you die alone but not when you has [sic] Father Mychal next to you. There is also a documentary about him. Its title refers to him as ‘The Saint of 9/11.'”