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Life of gay 9/11 priest seen in film in Jax Hts.

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The 90-minute film, titled "Saint of 9/11," featured anecdotes about Judge from friends and eerie footage of an FDNY mass he held the day before the attacks.Judge ministered to the city's homeless, AIDS victims and immigrants. He would hold funeral services for homosexuals and AIDS victims during the height of the disease's crisis in the 1980s when no priest would go near them, according to Brendan Fay, the film's co-producer and close friend of Judge."Mychal Judge was always trying to be a bridge between dividing communities," Fay said following the documentary's screening in Jackson Heights, attended by residents of different ages, religions and sexual orientations. "Mychal, I think, would appreciate that we're having this screening in Queens in a synagogue. Mychal Judge would love this gathering."He said Judge was a man who embraced his Irish heritage and traveled to Northern Ireland where he met with Catholics and Protestants alike.Although he was born in Brooklyn, Judge had strong Queens roots as he participated in the borough's annual Irish celebration and inclusive St. Patrick's Day Parade when the gays were barred from the city's Manhattan parade. The last man he ministered to was Jose Rodriguez, a rookie cop from Jamaica."The first check (the Queens parade) got in support came from Mychal Judge," said Fay, a founder of the parade and borough resident.The priest is said to be the first person to die on Sept. 11 because his death certificate was the first one processed. He died while ministering at Ground Zero when debris fell on his neck. Judge continued to give last rites to victims while he was injured.The documentary also touched on Judge's struggle with alcohol, noting that he would run home after the St. Patrick's parade instead of meeting with friends because of his urge to drink. He also consoled the families of TWA Flight 800 victims and would write checks for anyone in need. Daniel Dromm, founder of the Queens Gay and Lesbian Pride Committee, said he felt compelled to have the documentary screened in the borough after viewing it at the Tribeca Film Festival. He is also a friend of Fay and Judge."When I saw the film... I knew it was something we had to bring to the community," he said. Fay said he came up with the title for the documentary, which he thought of because he said Judge would never have viewed himself as a saint, although those he ministered to would say otherwise."The lovely thing about Mychal is he would say he's the biggest mess himself," Fay said.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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