On September 11th, 2001, 2,977 innocent lives were lost in the terror attacks that day. The first identified victim was Fr. Mychal Judge. He was born in 1933 and became a priest in 1961, eventually becoming an FDNY chaplain in 1992. For decades, he served in and around the New York City area, ministering to everyone from AIDS patients at the end of their lives to the families, friends, and recovery workers near where TWA Flight 800 crashed.
Upon hearing of the attacks, Fr. Judge immediately left for the World Trade Center. When he arrived, he attended to those in need and offered Last Rites to the dying. Then, in the moments after the South Tower fell, debris struck and killed him instantly. His body was carried from the destruction by FDNY personnel and temporarily placed it at the foot of a nearby church’s altar. The priest who officiated his funeral Mass four days later closed his homily with these words:
“And so, this morning we come to bury Myke Judge’s body, but not his spirit. We come to bury his voice, but not his message. We come to bury his hands, but not his good works. We come to bury his heart, but not his love. Never his love.”