Ferry Named After FDNY Priest

REBECCA SPITZ
Courtesy of NY 1 News

Fighting the wind and the waves of the New York Harbor, Father Mychal Judge's twin sister and his best friend sprinkled holy water to christen a ferry that now bears his name.

The ferry was dedicated Wednesday to Judge, the Fire Department chaplain who was killed administering last rites at the World Trade Center.

"On September 11, Father Judge went to the World Trade Center to serve his parishioners - the men and women of the Fire Department - to be with them in their time of greatest need," said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. "And, of course, we know he stayed with them until the end."

Many rank and file survivors were on hand at the dedication ceremony to honor their spiritual leader, who was also their mentor and friend.

"Father Mike, I loved him very much," said firefighter David Fullam. "He married me and my wife Linda, baptized my first daughter, Shannon. He was a big part of our lives. He touched everybody he knew."

On board the New York Waterways ferry, a plaque echoes just that sentiment.

"I think it's a great honor and I'm glad New York did it for him," said Dympna Jessich, Judge's sister. "He'd be very, very honored having the boat named after him."

The ferry shuttles passengers from East 90th Street to Pier 11 at the foot of Wall Street. The ferry was also used to help evacuate Lower Manhattan on September 11.

Father Judge's friends say the pier, which was also used as a fireboat station, is the perfect place to christen his ferry because it represents his two loves: the Fire Department and the water.

"For the past 15 years, Father Mychal's perfect day off was to walk from 31st Street to Prospect Park, Brooklyn," said Rev. Patrick Fitzgerald, a friend. "He was always pausing for a moment on the Brooklyn Bridge over the waters of the East River and looking towards Manhattan, offering a blessing over the city."

And those who loved him say they still feel his presence.

"We know that Father Mike is watching over us," said firefighter Nelson Ross. "He had that type of personality. Anything that goes wrong, or strange, Father Mike is having a hand in it and laughing from above."

New York Waterway has already renamed two other boats in honor of World Trade Center victims, one in honor of Moira Smith, the only female police officer killed in the tragedy, and the other for Austin Tobin, who oversaw construction of the twin towers. A fourth ferry will be christened next month for Douglas Gurian, a ferry commuter who died in the collapse.

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