Thank you to San Francisco's BAY AREA REPORTER newspaper for quoting me and my book, MYCHAL'S PRAYER in their recent article about Fr. Mychal Judge, the Saint of 9/11, and the calls for his canonization to become a saint in the Catholic Church.
In the article, reporter Seth Hemmelgard, writes:
Advocates are pushing for a gay New York priest who ministered to people living with AIDS and rushed into the burning World Trade Center on 9/11 to be made a saint. Father Mychal Judge, a New York fire department chaplain, became known as "Victim Number One" after he died when he and other first responders went to help others. o
About two weeks ago, Pope Francis added the "Offering of Life" category so that somebody who "knowingly gives his or her life for other people" is eligible for canonization.
Salvatore Sapienza, 53, of Saugatuck, Michigan, worked with Judge in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the AIDS crisis was hitting its peak in New York.
"The Catholic Church was not responding to the crisis at all, and many people in the gay community saw the Catholic Church as the enemy," said Sapienza.
With the help of Sapienza and some others, Judge started an AIDS ministry in the monastery where he lived.
"Nobody in the church was really doing anything until Mychal had the idea to start something," he said.
Judge was "larger than life," said Sapienza. "He really was like one of those people you see when they walk into a room gets everyone's attention."
The priest "always wore the Franciscan robe and sandals everywhere in Manhattan," even on the subway, he said. Judge explained he saw it as his uniform. Just as people would seek out police or firefighters when there was an emergency, Judge wanted people to be able to find him when they needed spiritual help, said Sapienza.
"He really was a saintly figure in so many ways," he said. "Unfortunately, we think of saints as being people who were pious holy rollers, and Mychal was a very real person. He was the New York City fire chaplain, so he was hanging out with these blue-collar firefighters from the boroughs, and he could laugh with them and tell jokes with them."
Sapienza added that Judge "saw the light in everybody. He saw the goodness in all people and met them where they were."
Judge, who was out to his circle of friends, "was very clear he was a celibate man. He was faithful to his vows," he said.
Every morning, Judge recited a prayer that said, "Lord today take me where you want me to go, let me meet who you want me to meet, tell me want you want me to say, and keep me out of your way," according to Sapienza.
Judge's habit of "surrendering to life" and being "in the flow of life" is probably what led him into the World Trade Center just after it was attacked, he said, adding, "That's where he was supposed to be."
A link to the full article can be read here at Bay Area Reporter.