Father Mychal Judge, OFM
Mychal Judge, 68, the Franciscan New York City fire department chaplain who died September 11 ministering to a fallen
firefighter at the World Trade Center catastrophe, was a pioneer in AIDS ministry. When Cardinal O'Connor expelled Dignity, the gay Catholic organization, from the St. Francis Xavier church in 1987, Judge welcomed the group's AIDS ministry to his church, St. Francis of Assisi. In time, Judge made the ministry his parish's own for all people with AIDS regardless of faith -- just as he ministered to everyone from the powerful to the homeless.
At Judge's wake and funeral, people who had lost their partners to AIDS told of the profound lengths to which the priest went to comfort the dying and the bereaved. AIDS activist Brendan Fay said that when a Long Island priest refused to conduct a service for a man who had died of AIDS, Judge said a funeral mass in the home of the man's mother.
Judge -- an AA member and a gay man who was out to many of his friends -- was highly respected by the firemen he ministered to. He always tried to put himself on the side of the oppressed without incurring the wrath of the church hierarchy.
Berry Berenson Perkins
Berry Berenson Perkins, 53, wife of Psycho star Anthony Perkins, died on Septmeber 11 abord American Airlines Flight 11 when the hijacked jetliner slammed into the World Trade Center.
Born into wealth and status, she made her name as a model and fashion photographer. Her career, howeverm was ogten eclipsed by her shotgun marriage to Perkins, who was rumored to be gay.
Berenson and Perkins were deeply involved with LA's Project Angel Food, which provides meals ot homebound HIVers. Executive Director John Gile told POZ that they were both integral parts of the organization for many years as active volunteers working in the kitchen and delivering food to HIVers. Berenson also raised big bucks for the group and served on the board of directors and the board of trustees. Gile says Berenson "realized the duty of human beings to look beyond our fears and do what we can to bring each person with HIV kindness, respect, and love."
Perkins died of AIDS in 1992, with Berenson at his side. They starred in several fims together including Winter Kills (1979). "It was a wonderful love affair," Berenson said shortly after Perkins' death "If anything else was happening, I certaintly didn't know about it."