On National Coming Out Day, Saturday, October 11, a crowd gathered on Chicago’s Halsted Street for a ceremony to unveil 7 new plaques in the Legacy Walk, one of which was dedicated to Fr. Mychal Judge. Legacy Walk is the country’s first outdoor LGBT museum and exists to recognize LGBT individuals and organizations that have been important in our history, particularly those whose lives have sometimes been airbrushed of their sexuality.
Dignity/Chicago led the effort to sponsor a plaque for Father Mychal. Gifts to support the sponsorship came from Dignity/Chicago, DignityUSA, Dignity/New York, the Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach of Chicago, the LGBT Group at Old St. Pat’s Parish in the West Loop, and two anonymous sponsors. These gifts, plus the support of over 50 individuals, helped to raise over $10,000.
Fr. Mychal’s ministry to Dignity/New York, the firefighters of New York, the poor, the marginalized, the people living with AIDS and the many individuals just struggling to understand their place in this world, was informed by who he was as a gay man, as a person in recovery, as a Franciscan, and as a man of exceptional faith.
In the wake of publicity surrounding Fr. Mychal’s death at the Twin Towers on 9/11, there were many who sought to downplay or bury his identity as a gay man, as if recognizing his sexuality would slander the saintly man. It took a statement from the New York Fire Department fire chief, who confirmed Fr. Mychal was gay, before many could see the acknowledgement of Fr. Mychal’s sexuality as an affirmation and an influence on his capacity for loving ministry.
It is hoped that Fr. Mychal's life will serve as an inspiration for future generations and a recognition of so many whose selfless service has helped to bring healing to our world.
A Prayer to Fr. Mychal
You embodied the prayer of St. Francis.
You were truly an instrument of the Lord’s peace.
Where there was hatred, you brought love,
Where there was injury, pardon,
Where there doubt, faith,
Where there was despair, hope,
Where there was darkness, light,
And where there was sadness, you brought joy.
Fr. Mychal, we are grateful for you life.