This Day in Bonaventure History

By Joe Pinter, News Editor, @JPinter93

September 14, 2001

It was on this day that The Bona Venture, our student-run print newspaper, would publish a front-page story about the life and death of Fr. Mychal Judge.

Fr. Mychal Judge grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. at the height of the Great Depression. He witnessed true poverty and suffering while he was young. He even realized at a pretty young age that material things had no meaning in his life.

When he was 15, Fr. Mychal started the process to enter the Franciscan community. He received a BA degree from SBU and then was ordained a priest at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. Fr. Mychal then served at many chapels and monasteries in the New York-New Jersey area. But in 1971, he became an alcoholic—which he would eventually overcome in 1978.

By 1992, Fr. Mychal was appointed chaplain of the fire department of New York. He used this position to encourage and pray at hospitals, fire stations and even rescue missions.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Mychal heard of the attacks on the World Trade Center and rushed to the site. Mayor Rudy Giuliani asked him to go into the lobby of the North Tower and hold a prayer service. This would be the last time he spoke to the mayor.

The South Tower collapsed and sent debris flying through the North Tower. Fr. Mychal was struck in the head with a piece of debris. According to New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly, Fr. Mychal was praying out loud, saying, “Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!”

Fortunately, firefighters carried Fr. Mychal’s body out of the lobby and into a church nearby. This scene was in the documentary film, 9/11. It would become one of the most famous images from the tragedy.

Fr. Mychal has a memorial at the 9/11 site. He also has had countless awards named after him and even a documentary about him on that tragic day.