FDNY Chaplain Killed Reading Last Rites to Firefighter on 9/11 Honored During Remembrance Walk

WPIX - September 06, 2016

by Magee Hickey

MIDTOWN, Manhattan — Hundreds gathered Sunday to remember FDNY Chaplain Father Mychal Judge.

Judge died on September 11th fifteen years ago.

The Franciscan priest was giving the last rites to a firefighter when one of the towers collapsed and Father Mychal was killed by falling debris.

"He had the ability to bond with anyone at any level whether it was the mayor or the poorest homeless person at Saint Francis," NYC Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told PIX11. "As soon as you met him he became your friend," he added.

Paralyzed police officer Steven McDonald and John Bates started this walk of remembrance to honor the memory of father judge back in 2002.

It started out as just 30 people and has now grown to hundreds.

McDonald and his wife Patti Ann first met father Mike right after the NYPD detective had been shot and left paralyzed from the neck down in 1986.

"When I first met him in the hospital after the shooting, he prayed with me and I understood what I was to do and what it was all about, " McDonald told PIX11. "When he said 'make me an instrument of your peace, it was all clear'", he added.

"He was like a third grandfather to me," NYPD Detective Conor McDonald, Steven's son, told PIX11. "He gave my parents and myself the motivation to stick together and get through what my dad's been going through for 30 years," Conor said.

Along the Walk of Remembrance, hundreds stopped at each firehouse and precinct along the route from 31st Street to Ground Zero to remember those first responders who died trying to save others.

"Whenever you were with Father Mychal, everyone here on 31st Street knew him," Patti Ann McDonald, Steven's wife, told PIX11. "The lives he touched were incredible. He treated everyone the same."