Fr. Mychal Judge is carried from the scene of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Twenty years on from the 9/11 attacks in New York, there is a growing campaign calling for Father Mychal Judge to be considered a saint.
Fr Mychal Judge, whose parents came from Keshcarrigan and Drumkeerin was the first recorded victim of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Judge was a chaplain with the New York City Fire Department. He died on September 11, 2001 while administering last rites in the lobby of the North Tower.
Judge was born in Brooklyn to two Irish immigrants from Leitrim and joined the Franciscan Order in 1954, where he devoted himself to helping vulnerable groups, including the homeless, people suffering from HIV/AIDS, and the LGBT community. Judge, who was ordained a priest in 1961, was posthumously revealed to be a gay man.
A campaign is emerging to have Fr Judge considered for sainthood due to his efforts on 9/11 and his efforts to make the US Catholic Church more welcoming for the LGBT community.
Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest based in Rome, believes that Judge should be considered for sainthood because of his efforts to welcome the LGBT community into the Catholic Church.
Dozens of testimonies supporting Judge's case have been submitted to the Vatican in the hope of canonising the iconic hero. However, the Franciscan Order he belonged to have not joined the campaign as of yet.
A son of Leitrim, Fr Mychal Judge visited Keshcarrigan in 2000, keen to seek out his father’s ancestral home which is now in the ownership of the Keaney family.
He called on John and Christina Keaney and visited the homestead, taking a stone from the wall back with him to New York as a keepsake.
A few years after his death, a Peace Garden remembering Fr Judge was opened in Keshcarrigan on the edge of Kesh Lake, on ground formerly owned by Mychal’s family which is still known locally as Judge’s Shore.
His sister Dympna presented the village with the two flags that had draped Mychal’s coffin – that of the New York City Fire Department and the Stars and Stripes.
The adored priest was 68 years old at the time of his death.
According to tributes left about the priest on “Our 9/11 bravest Never Forget” The Rev. Mychal Judge never shut his door at the Midtown Franciscan friar to anyone.
He was a fabled New York figure known for ministering to people with AIDS, rough sleepers, drug addicts, recovering alcoholics and anyone else who needed his help.
As chaplain to the New York Fire Department, Father Judge, could be found joking or comforting firefighters or driving hellbent to emergencies.
He wore his friar's robes to soup kitchens, to Gracie Mansion, to the White House, to countless baptisms and funerals.
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