Remembering the tragedy of 9/11 and a special priest

“You have no idea what God is calling you to. But he needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us,” Franciscan Father Mychal F. Judge said in a homily he delivered Sept. 10, 2001, during the re-dedication of a firehouse in the Bronx.

Father Judge (CNS photo)

It was his last homily, according to Mychal’s Message, an organization named for the beloved New York City fire chaplain. The next day he lost his life in the terrorist attacks that brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. He died ministering to victims in the rubble.

The victims of the attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., are being remembered on the ninth anniversary of the attacks — as are the survivors, all the families affected by the tragedy, and firefighters and other first-responders, many of whom died helping victims.

Father Judge’s last homily is being made available on a DVD by Mychal’s Message. “Father Mychal had a practical, down-to-earth approach to life,” said Franciscan Father Cassian A. Miles, who knew the late chaplain most of his life.

“His last homily goes to the heart of the Christian message about our dependence on God and how we must rely on his love and care to guide us,” Father Miles said an announcement about the DVD’s release.

Father Judge had an impact on countless people. One of those is Shannon Hickey from Lancaster, Pa. In 2002 she founded Mychal’s Message, because the priest as a longtime family friend helped her and her family members when she was struggling with liver disease. Born with a defective liver, she received part of her mom’s liver in 1991 when she was just 7 months old.

The organization collects and distributes items for the homeless. The ministry “began with a simple pair of socks,” said Hickey, who has received numerous awards for her work. Her mom, Kelly Ann Lynch, is the co-founder.

On 9/11 the organization planned to distribute “Blessed Bloomer” bundles to 300 to 400  homeless people in New York City. The bundles include an undershirt, underwear, socks and a card with a prayer by Father Judge.

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