Fr. Mychal

mychal19/11/2001 As I sit in my house still recovering from  Pancreatitus, the sound of military helicopters and jets pass overhead  from time to time. I am struck by the loss of a great man in the true  sense of the word.

1966 or so:

An alter boy  is impressed at the Priest he meets at church. "This is Father Mychal  boys, he will be running the alter boy's group now" we are told by the  pastor of our church one afternoon after school. Seems like a cool guy.  Next thing you know he is getting a bus to take us all to Bertram's  Island at Lake Hopatcong in NJ. There was no 6 flags in NJ yet, this was the only game in town at the time. There is an amusement park there and he feels we all deserve a fun trip for our service as Alter boys. With a giant roll of tickets he hands us all a bunch and off we go into this  park to knock ourselves silly on the rides.

The following  year I think, our bigoted little town, Rochelle Park, was shocked to  hear a black family moved in. Our all white town was shaken. A petition  was circulated by a few of the good folks in town to say they didn't  have a problem with "those people" Blacks, moving in. Well the new  priest was one of many who signed this document. Can you imagine what  gall it took to even have a petition about this subject. Tolerance at  the time was a term which referred to how tight to make a bolt not how  to accept others different then ourselves.

 Well this good priest signed this petition. He was different then any priest I had  ever met till then and since. Something about the fact he not only told  us how to be, but proved it in his life with his actions. Next thing you know he was gone. The higher-ups in the church thought he was too  controversial to stay. The people from the town sent letters to the Arch Diocese to complain about him and that was enough to ship him out. I  lost touch with him for many years after that.


 I find out  from a friend that there is a priest in Carlstadt who is excellent. I  should come to Saint Joseph's and check him out. Low and behold there is Father Mychal. I say hello and he remembers me. We chat, I show him my  new car and he blesses it for me after noon mass. We talk for a while  and I tell him how much I missed him after he was gone. He tells me to  be good and know that it was all for the better. He had no animosity  towards anyone in the town. Impressive.


     I have gotten  involved in the "Born Again" movement. My parents think I am in some  kind of cult and want me to talk to a priest. Well the only priest I  know and trust is Father Mychal. So off me and my dad go to Saint  Joseph's church for a meeting with Father Mychel. He is comforting and  reassuring to my dad and tells him "There is nothing wrong with this  book." , holding the bible I now carried all the time in his hand, then  says to me "Mike, if you let this come between you and your family,  (holding up the bible) something is wrong. God wouldn't do that." My dad feels better, I feel better and we leave together in a better state  then when we came in.

 About the same time, a man in Carlstadt takes his family hostage and is going to kill  them. I am watching the news and see the coverage. They say he was  talked out of it by a local priest. I see on the TV something that blows me away. There is Father Mychal climbing a ladder to a window where the man is sitting with a shotgun. He talks the man down and no one is  hurt. this priest is something and I feel proud to have known him.

 I hear about a year afterwards he is going to leave this church. My heart breaks  again. I so enjoyed this man and his work. He is so down to earth.

1990 or so:

Thanksgiving  morning I am watching TV. The news is on and I see Mayor Dinkens handing out food to the homeless. Who is handing him the sandwiches to give  out? Father Mychal. Seems he had moved into the city after leaving Saint Joseph's in NJ. He was putting his life out there to help the homeless  in NYC. I was impressed but not surprised. This man gave up everything  in life to share God with everyone he met. I thought I would love to go  and see him someday to let him know how much he meant to me in my life  but never found the time.

1995 or so:

 I hear from my mom Father Mychal is sick and may die, I promise myself I am going to  look him up and say hello. I so loved this man. Time is short though. I  have so much to do. I never find the time. Seems Father Mychal recovers  and goes back to doing God's work.


  The day is horrible. I watch as the second of two terrorist attacks hit the World Trade Center live on TV. I am shocked and bewildered. I want  to be close to the people who love me. I head out to pick up my daughter and her two stepbrother's at school. I hear on the radio along the way  that tower two of the World trade center is collapsing. My heart drops  to the floor. When I see my daughter I am thankful she is OK and bring  her and her one step brother with me to get the other at the middle  school. As Nick emerges he tells me the other tower has collapsed also. I am almost in tears but try to be strong for the kids. This is a hellish day.

  After making  sure everyone in my family is OK, I return to my home, alone I sit and  watch TV wondering how we as a people will deal with the terrorist's who did such an act.

 My mom calls  me to let me know she is home from Atlantic City safely. She tells me  she has bad news. Father Mychal was killed in the attack. I listen in  disbelief. I don't want to know. I act incredulous at the thought. She  must be wrong. Later Mayor Giuliani is having another press conference. I watch this somber man as he tells of friends he knows were lost in the  collapse of building one. "Father Judge" comes out of his mouth. I stare not moving a muscle.

  Father Mychal Judge was a good man. It doesn't surprise me he was at  ground zero to help people in trouble. He was the Chaplain for the New  York City Fire Department. He always did as he preached, he put his  money where his mouth was. Shocked yes, surprised no. Sad, extremely.

  It has come to my attention that the reason Father Mychal was there was to give last  rights to the fire and police men before going into the building to save the lives of the people trying to escape. These brave men and women  knew they may not come out alive. Father Mychal knew as well. They went  anyway despite the chance of dying. "What greater love has a man then to give up his life for a friend?"

  I was too busy to go see him. I am so sorry for that, somehow though I am sure he knew in his heart we all loved him even if we couldn't find time to tell him and I am sure he forgives me. I couldn't let my tears go though,  without telling all of you of this wonderful man and what he meant to  one soul on this earth, no matter how insignificant I am.

  Art Russ  Junior had a great sports radio show many years ago in NYC. He ended  every show with these words, "Yesterday is a canceled check, Tomorrow is a promissory note, Today is the only time you have so spend it wisely." Such words are so true. Tell someone you know how much they meant to  you in your life. I didn't and am forever sorry for that. Don't do as I  do. Do as Father Mychal did. He was a greater man then anyone I ever  knew or that I will ever be. He will be missed, Heaven is a more better  place with him there. God Bless everyone affected by this tragedy and  God Bless America.

Michael P. Randazzo Updated 10/20/2015