Mychal F. Judge

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Mychal F. Judge, OFM (born Robert Emmet Judge on May 11, 1933; died September 11, 2001) was a Roman Catholic priest of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, Chaplain of the Fire Department of New York, and the first recorded victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks.


Early years

Judge was the son of Irish Catholic immigrants from County Leitrim and the firstborn of a pair of fraternal twins. With his twin sister Dympna and his older sister Erin, he grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. during the Great Depression. His lifelong affinity for the poor began at a young age; he often gave his only quarter to beggars on the street.

At the age of six, he watched his father die of a slow and painful illness. To compensate for his father's inability to work, Judge shined shoes at New York Penn Station from where he would visit St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street. Seeing the Franciscan friars there, "I realized that I didn't care for material things," he later said, "I knew then that I wanted to be a friar." [1]

Franciscan Order of Friars Minor

In 1948, at the age of 15, Judge began the formation process to enter the Franciscan community. He trained at three seminaries in New York, New Jersey, and New Hampshire before receiving his BA degree from St. Bonaventure University. He completed his training and was ordained a priest at Holy Name College in Washington, DC in 1961.[2] Upon entering the Order of Friars Minor, he took the religious name of Mychal.

From 1961 to 1986, Judge served at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, St. Joseph Parish in East Rutherford, NJ, Sacred Heart Parish in Rochelle Park, NJ, and St. Joseph Parish in West Milford, NJ. For three years he served as assistant to the president at Siena College in Loudonville, NY. In 1986, he was assigned to the monastery of St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street, New York, where he lived and worked until his death in 2001.[3] Around 1971, Judge became an alcoholic, although he never showed obvious signs. In 1978, with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous, he became sober and continued to share his personal story of alcoholism to help others facing addiction.[4].

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