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Breakfast Sunday, 8 September, 2002, 06:39 GMT 07:39 UK
September 11: victim 0001
Father Mychal Judge
Mychal Judge died as he gave the last rites

As thousands of people tried to escape the twin towers, hundreds of fireman were rushing the other way.

With them was a priest: Father Mychal Judge.

He went into the burning building to help the injured; to pray with the dying.
You have no idea when you get out on that rig, no matter how big the job or how small, you have no idea what God is calling you to

Fr Mychal Judge

Fr Mychal was hit by falling debris and is officially counted as the first person to be killed in the World Trade Centre attack.

The day before he died, Fr Mychal had been saying mass in a New York fire house.

He told the firefighters then the job was unpredictable, dangerous.

" You have no idea when you get out on that rig, no matter how big the job or how small, you have no idea what God is calling you to," he'd said.

They were prophetic words.

Fr Mychal was chaplain to the New York Fire Department and a hands-on clergyman - he spent time at this fire house each night praying talking helping the men face the dangers of the job.

"He was a father, a brother to me - an uncle. Anything anybody needed, all they had to do was call Fr Mike," firefighter George Moloney told me,

In a country that loves and needs its heroes Fr Mychal's name was quickly taken up.

A campaign has started to make Fr Mychal a saint.

It's a complicated process. You need to show that miracles have been performed - the stories have already started coming, in mainly from fire department families.

Miracles

Christine Kennedy was pregnant with her third child when she was told there was a problem. Doctors said her baby would be born with water on the brain. So she went to see Father Mike.

She told me:

"He touched my head, he touched Joe's head, he touched my belly and that was it - it was done."

To the doctors' astonishment, Christine gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby girl. Christine says: "Am I gonna say its a miracle? I don't know. Would I second guess it? Definitely not."
It's important that Michael is outed in his death because they can't hide it anymore that a gay person can be good - a gay person can be saintly

Tom Moulton

But there are a few obstacles to sainthood for Father Mike.

The day after his funeral it was revealed he was gay.

It's been used by some in New York to discredit him, but for the gay Catholic community, Mychal Judge has become a symbol of hope.

Tom Moulton from the organisation Dignity told me: "I think its important that Michael is outed in his death because they can't hide it anymore that a gay person can be good - a gay person can be saintly."

Fr Duffy knew Mychal Judge for thirty years. I went to interview him on a swelteringly hot day in Philadelphia.

He says he was a simple, joyful man and he's annoyed that his friend is now being used to champion a whole range of different causes - his name was even put on a bomb dropped on Afghanistan. "If a person was alive and people were doing this I'd say fend for yourself speak for yourself - but if a personal friend dies like that and everyone almost uses him in death ..

"It's almost like I thought, boy you can say anything you want about a dead man."

More than three hundred firefighters died on september the eleventh. Part of the reason Father Mychal's influence in death is so strong is because he worked with them, he prayed with them and in the end he died with them.

  • Tomorrow (Monday September 9) Graham Satchell reports on how a seventy year old woman who lost her brother in the World Trade Centre attack has become a peace campaigner.
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     ON THIS STORY
    Fr Mychal's story
    Graham Satchell reporting
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