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Mychal Judge, a New York City Fire Department chaplain, was among the first on the morning of September 11 to rush to the World Trade Center. Before Judge administered last rites to an injured firefighter, he removed his helmet. Falling debris from the tower hit by American Airlines Flight 11 killed him. Judge was 68.

Judge, known to the firefighters as "Father Mike," had been a friar for 46 years and a priest for 40 years, and had served as a fire department chaplain since 1992. The friary where he lived, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in midtown Manhattan, was across the street from Engine Company 1/Ladder Company 24. Judge often ate at the firehouse. He kept a radio scanner in his room. Firefighter Steve Wojciechowski described him to Newsday as "always the first guy on the scene."

Judge was known for his compassion for people, regardless of their religion or social status. He visited the White House several times, including a February visit with President George W. Bush. He also worked among AIDS patients, crime victims, and others. Once Judge traveled to Ireland on a peace mission with friend Steven McDonald, a New York City police detective who had been paralyzed below the neck after a shooting.

After the 1996 crash of Trans World Airways Flight 800 off Long Island, Judge became the personal pastor for families of the victims, moving temporarily to the hotel where they stayed, and helping to arrange services. "Have your memories and hold tight to your tears," Judge told the families last year. "Open your hearts and let their spirit and life keep you going."

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called Judge "a saint, a wonderful man." Hundreds attended his funeral Mass on Saturday, including Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton. Many ...

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September 2001

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