Saturday 23 June 2018

Hopes Irish-American priest who died during 9/11 attacks will be named world's first openly-gay saint

Fire department chaplain Mychal Judge, who lost his life
Fire department chaplain Mychal Judge, who lost his life

Kathy Armstrong

A much-loved Irish-American priest who died during the 9/11 terror attacks has been tipped to become the first openly-gay saint.

A campaign is underway to have Fr Mychal Judge canonised for his tireless efforts to support and provide pastoral care for groups such as those with addictions and people with HIV/AIDS.

Fr Judge was the son of two Irish immigrants from Leitrim and was a member of the Franciscan Order in New York.

An iconic photo of Fr Mychal's dying moments showed him being carried by emergency workers after he was fatally injured in the aftermath of the terror attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11 2001.

Witnesses said that after a plane struck the first tower Fr Mychal (68) insisted on staying with the injured and dying to provide them with comfort.

Francis DeBernardo of the New Ways Ministry has started a campaign to research and raise awareness about the good work that Fr Judge carried out throughout his life.

He said: "The time has come to begin the initial research to make Franciscan Fr Mychal Judge, OFM, a canonized saint in the Catholic Church. 

"And we need the help of people to spread the word about such a possibility so that we can gather evidence about Fr Judge’s life and ministry.

A campaign to canonise Fr Mychal Judge is underway
A campaign to canonise Fr Mychal Judge is underway

"On September 11, 2001, Fr Judge, who was a chaplain for the New York City Fire Department, rushed into the World Trade Center building with other first responders, after terrorists had flown planes into the skyscraper towers. 

"As a result of his sacrifice, he died, and is now often referred to as 'Victim Number One' of that tragic day which witnessed the deaths of close to 3,000 people, with over 6,000 more injured.

"He was also known as an unofficial chaplain in the gay community, providing pastoral care and support wherever and whenever he could. 

"He ministered, selflessly, too, with HIV/AIDS patients and with people suffering from addictions."

In July, Pope Francis said that people could now be considered for canonisation if they gave their lives for others.

Mr DeBernardo explained he has now started working on a campaign to help Fr Judge potentially be canonised.

He said: "In order to propose that Fr Judge be investigated by the Congregation to be considered for canonisation, an immense amount of research first must be done. 

"What is needed are first-hand accounts from people who knew Fr. Judge personally or who have had any correspondence with him or have other significant documents that will give a clearer, more detailed picture of his life, spirituality, and ministry. 

"Extremely important is any information regarding a possible miracle attributed to Fr. Judge’s intercession."

He continued to say: "The only way that we can make Fr Judge’s canonisation a reality is through a mass effort to find people who knew Fr Judge. 

"People who have been involved in Catholic LGBT activities are very likely to have met him or perhaps to have prayed to him for a miracle. That is why we are asking you to share this information.  

"Of course, those who knew Fr Judge from other activities – his parish work, his NYC Fire Department chaplaincy, his ministry to HIV/AIDS patients and addicts – are also sought.

"An official request for the Cause of Fr Judge’s canonisation can only be submitted after a great deal of this initial research is gathered. 

"This may take many months, perhaps even a year or more. 

"Only through a mass effort to build a network of individuals and organizations who are searching for the necessary evidence and information will we be able to get to even the first step of the canonisation process."

For more information please email or visit here.

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