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Should he be Saint Mychal?

The Washington Times carried a Christmas Day report on the efforts of some people to have Fr Mychal Judge proclaimed a saint. Burt Kearns, has set up a Web site urging Father Judge's canonization. He sees Fr Judge "like a modern-day St. Francis."

In January, Mr. Kearns was reading a newspaper when he was struck by the famous picture of rescue workers carrying Father Judge's limp body from the World Trade Center - a shot compared by many to Michelangelo's "Pieta."

As a boy growing up Catholic, Mr. Kearns had viewed the saints as plastic icons glued to dashboards, or pictures hanging in his parents' bedroom. But looking at Father Judge, Mr. Kearns took a different view: Here, too, was a saint. Three months later, Mr. Kearns opened his Internet campaign — and it has opened his eyes. He has received thousands of e-mails from people expressing their love for Father Judge, or asking for his picture, or seeking a relic from the priest.

"You get a sense of awe," Mr. Kearns said. There was the single mother in Colorado, who named her new son Mychal. And the Australian firefighter, who proposed Father Judge as the new patron saint of firefighters. And the Arizona man, who offered any assistance at all in the canonization effort.

The street beneath his old bedroom window at the friary now bears his name, as does a Hudson River ferry and uncounted post-September 11 children. His chaplain's helmet was presented to Pope John Paul II. One Father Judge biography is already on the shelves, with another one due next year.

Many who knew Father Judge believe the priest would find the attention comical. "He'd think it was a real hoot, you know?" said Frank Carven, who met Father Judge in July 1996 after losing his sister and nephew in the crash of TWA Flight 800. "I can imagine him looking down, seeing all this canonization talk, and just chuckling."

Father Judge's fellow Franciscans aren't laughing, but they aren't taking the push for sainthood too seriously. One of the order's leaders, speaking after accepting yet another award for the late priest, gently applied the brakes to the St. Mychal movement. "There is a rush to canonize Mychal these days, and I think it is a mistake," said the Rev. John Felice, provincial minister for the friars. "He was a very human, flawed complex person just like the rest of us. His real legacy is the stuff of greatness."

Washington Times

27 Dec 2002