It would have been 1975 when I graduated Junior High School (9th grade) and got Confirmed. I was fourteen at those ceremonies and much like you Scouts I was trying to figure out how to hold onto the “fun” of being a boy while reaching for the “freedom” of being a man.
At my graduation I was given a copy of “IF” by Rudyard Kipling and $10. I have long since spent the money but always kept the poem. If you have a chance, find it, read it, and if you can – live it!
At my Confirmation one side of my family gave me religious medallions ( High Church ) and one side gave me a Bible and shotgun (Low Church). Ha!, They did all get along though and both in their own way were simply encouraging me to be a responsible young man.
I remember my ‘ol man saying to me “You will know you are a man when you can stand up in Madison Square Garden and yell NO! over a crowd of Yes men” if you strongly believe in something. He also used to quote repeatedly, “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing”. All of this wisdom and advice was wasted on me back then and the years progressed. Cars, girls, school, sports, work, family and all the ups and downs along the way.
Why do I write this?
Fine young men it is because current events on campuses and elsewhere give a rock solid example of how far we can fall if people don’t mature enough to yell NO! over a bunch of yes men (?) AND evil does sure as he** flourish when good men (?) do nothing. Listen to your folks! And thanks Pop!
The HOPE lies with you guys! Go forth and be Good Men!
G-d Bless and Happy Thanksgiving – Fine Young Men!
Brother Tim Thompson, Chaplain
Fine Young Men,
As 9/11 approaches I wanted to share the attached article with you.
Take the time to read it and rest assured that while at times Evil may exist in this world, Faith, Hope, and Charity does also and in the case of Fr Judge a true "Instrument of Peace" was present that day.
Brother Tim Thompson, Chaplain
TRIBUTE TO FATHER MYCHAL F. JUDGE
Your Eminence, Cardinal Egan, President Clinton, Senator Clinton, Mayor Dinkins, Mr. Controller, Mr. Public Advocate, Family, Friends, Firefighters and Friends. ``Don't worry about me. Help the thousands.'' Mychal says to us.
I see him kneeling gently, hear him speaking in a firm and lilting whisper, his large hands making reassuring contact with a dying firefighter, his warm eyes focused and loving and deep, communicating the wisdom of almost seventy years and the spirituality of a millennium. Enveloped in the unshakeable concentration of the prayers he knew and lived so faithfully, shrouded in his own mystical but practical Catholic belief, oblivious to the risk of harm that rained from the sky, he died as he lived, trying to save a life, to save a soul in our city on a sunny, not so perfect September morning.
Friar's friar, firefighter, warrior for the Lord and New Yorker--I can't help believing that Erin and Dymphna, your beloved Emmet, who wanted to be a priest at the age of four, our beloved Mychal--in the swirling and fiery wind tunnel of the majestic twin towers, helmet off in respect to our creator, lifted his lovely tenor voice and uttered a final Alleluia as he rode the winds aloft, smiling broadly as he shot one final mortal glance at what his model St. Francis of Assisi called ``burning sun with golden beam and silver moon with softer gleam.''
Father Mike, it's not that we hardly knew ya that makes you leaving this earth so hard. It's that we all knew you so well and depended on you so much that hurts so much.
Though you were neither a husband nor a father, you became a model for husbands and fathers.
Though you never trained on a hose on a fire or experienced the pain of being a firefighter's widow, you became a model for firefighters and the widowed.
Though up until recently you never felt the anxiety of sickness, you became a guide for the sick.
You taught us that the St. Francis Prayer was not merely a bookmark but a living, speaking roadmap for our daily lives as New Yorkers. We saw your greatness up close and personally. But we respectfully ask why were you so strong?
As Father Pecci pointed out last night at the wake service maybe it was the countless windows and shoes you polished and shined on Dean Street in Brooklyn as a child. Or was it the constancy and strength of example of your mother who balanced the needs of a dying husband, a house and three young children in the Depression?
I have not seen your sisters Erin and Dymphna for some time. So I asked Dymphna last night, what made Mychal great? She said it best: ``With Michael there were no narrow truths. There was only wide open possibility.''
As I stepped outside onto 32nd Street near Penn Station last night to get some air, I was struck by the wide world of possibilities that Mychal lived in. I noticed how much more alive the street has become in just in twenty-four hours.
A saxophone could be heard--``Amazing Grace''--the musician played. The smell of fried food in the air. Taxis racing down the street. Men and women laughing in conversation near a parked delivery truck. Mychal would say ``How marvelous. What a strong and dynamic people we are!''
And I looked at the faces on the street behind us. In Mychal's words: ``Peter, look at these faces. Brown and black and yellow and white. Such good minds, such strong hands, such hard workers. Such a resilient city. There is nothing like a New Yorker. We're back.''
In that moment I had an understanding of the incessant activity that Mychal often heard from his room on 31st Street. The same vitality that so energized him even when he was bone tired from caring for the families of the victims of Flight 800 when he would answer the phone or pager and respond to an emergency to support a stricken firefighter. And that was Mychal too. He naturally saw the very best of himself in others.
And in a strange way we slowly but surely began to see a little bit of Mychal in all of us. His dynamic strength, his good mind and his strong hands were always in evidence. Whether he was helping lift his dear friend paralyzed hero Detective Steven McDonald onto a rough stone road in Northern Ireland, to go another ten miles on the path to peace and reconciliation.
Or riding Splash Mountain at Disney with Conor McDonald, who helps serve the mass.
Or at the bedside of his friar friend forever, Patty Fitzgerald, in an Israeli hospital--fifty years of friendship on Saturday.
Or anointing the forehead of a sick man with aids in a small Chelsea studio apartment.
Or arm in arm with our missing hero Patty Brown, comforting the family of hero firefighters like the late Captain John Drennan in a New York Hospital burn unit, Mychal was equally at home in the brown robe and sandals of a friar or the uniform of a New York City fire officer and always in an encouraging and positive way motivating us to do bigger and better things.
He was comfortable visiting President and Senator Clinton or President and Mrs. Bush in the East Wing of the White House, the portico of Gracie Mansion with Mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani and the Cardinal's Residence with the late Cardinal O'Connor and now Cardinal Egan.
But he was really at home in a Times Square shelter for single mothers conducting Midnight Mass on Christmas eve, cradling a small plastic doll in its role as the baby Jesus or in a firehouse kitchen helping reunite a couple whose marriage was strained by the job.
This church is full of families he united. Being at Ground Zero--wherever it was-- was his life, and his death.
Mychal loved Christ and loved his family and yes, he loved us, the people of New York. This morning, we unfortunately see only his casket. But I dreamt the other night of Mychal, walking and walking and walking; I guess the constant motion of his life: In a power walk from 31st Street and Seventh Avenue to Coney Island and the Atlantic Ocean, in his crisply pressed uniform on a blustery Saint Patrick's day waving, to the crowd like a matinee idol, hands outstretched to hug our children for a moment, flashing a knowing, almost shy smile and then jogging back to the line of march. Walking the streets greeting on a first name basis the homeless and friendless, many of whom wore the Christmas and birthday gifts that many in this congregation wrapped so nicely for Mychal to wear.
He loved to watch the fireworks, a ride on a fire boat, a thick deep piece of apple pie with ice cream.
Both most of all, he loved the call to service, the romance of duty, the necessity of honor. He was a bridge between people. Friars and firefighters, Christians and Jews, able and disabled. He grafted spirituality onto our Bill of Rights.
You see, Mychal was proud to be an American. Not in the quaint sense of a Norman Rockwell painting or in your face flag waver, although flag waving is good too.
I recall two connected events to demonstrate his palpable pride. I urged Mychal to become the Fire Chaplain, to fill late Friar Father Julian Deeken's large shoes.
Shortly after he assumed his duties, there was a report of a ship run aground, and yes, even a landing of Chinese nationals with guns, according to the Park Police, in the Rockaways. I was an honorary firefighter and pro bono adviser to Mayor Dinkins, and so Mychal called me, said he would be by to get me in a few minutes and we took off in the middle of the night.
Just as we started to get to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, the radio started to crackle with confirmation of a large ship aground with passengers in the water. Mychal gunned the Chevy, hit the lights and sirens, both which reflected and reverberated off the tunnel walls. I felt like I was in the middle of Studio 54. I said ``Mike, what are you doing? Slow down.'' He looked straight ahead laughed and said: "No this is good. I'm not sure what we've got here but we can do good things together.''
I'll never forget what we saw that chilly morning. Helicopters in the air. A large broken ship battered by the waves off shore and a beach full of shaking, shivering and soaked Chinese men who had paid dearly and almost with their lives to reach the safe haven of America. They did not speak a word of English and he did not speak Chinese, but it did not deter Mychal.
Within a few minutes he was handing out blankets, coffee and telling jokes. And they laughed. An immigration officer warned him of the dangers of disease from the men--tuberculosis, hepatitis. Mychal said thank you, ignored the warning and continued on as he was inclined to do.
We returned home to Manhattan later that morning and ate an enormous breakfast, ``Mychal, you're a bright guy. They could be very sick.'' To which he replied: ``When I travel half way round the world I get a blanket and a cup of coffee. They're our guests and they deserve no less. They only want what we were born into.'' As usual Mychal had done good things.
Maybe we know why: A few days after July 4th, our daughters Blanche and Veronica, eight and six, received a handwritten note addressed to them. Blanche recognized the distinctive note paper and handwriting and read to her sister at the kitchen table:
"Friday evening, July 6, 2001, 10:00 p.m. My dearest Blanche and Veronica Felicity. Earlier this evening I walked to the new walk along the Hudson-Little West 12th Street to the Battery. It is a wonderful promenade and a great place for Bladers--Someday both of you will be most proficient at that and you'll be there often'' And they will. The letter continued: "I sat and gazed at Lady Liberty--so majestic with her torch burning brightly and thought of the great feelings of joy and happiness and hope that my mother and father experienced when they saw her as their boat came into New York Harbor--it was their dream come true. 1921--oh so long ago. They had no idea of all the blessings and a few sorrows that lie ahead of them. They were so brave and had such faith and trust in God, that, that he brought them to these shores and that he would care for them.''
The note paper and the distinctive penmanship were those of Mychal Judge, friar and firefighter. And it was then when I heard our oldest daughter read these simply eloquent words to our youngest daughter that I began to understand Mychal's rush to the Rockaways.
As he and the late Captain Grethel and late Firefighter Weinberg raced down Seventh Avenue did Mychal think about his little rollerbladers, Blanche and Veronica?
Did his mind rush back to pleasant barbecues and lasagna dinners in Northern New Jersey?
Did he think of the woman who came to this church and presented Father John Pierce with a tiny American flag in honor of Mychal who had guided her so well when she lost her son last year or of Erin or Dymphna and the prospect of a trip to see them in Maryland, reading books and just talking? Of the people he had not yet met who would need his services at the friary that day upon his return? Of how he could be made an instrument of peace or consolation or harmony? Or as he pondered the blazing twin towers and the desperate New Yorkers ending their suffering by jumping sometimes arms linked from the inferno, did he try to summon and recreate the innocent but great feelings of joy and happiness and hope that his parents felt when they saw the Lady in the Harbor?
We'll not know the answer on this Earth.
But we do know that Mychal died as he lived and as his parents lived-- bravely, having such faith and trusting God and loving this land that God made.
Mychal, you taught so many of us that we can only be enslaved, victimized or terrorized by our demons if we so consent. In the coming months we will call upon your memory and your inspired example of faith, sacrifice and determination and rely upon your prayers to help strengthen and console and raise all of us up.
Today, from the well of our sorrow filled with the bitter tears of our loss, we will tend to our garden, emboldened by the faith and trust in God you exemplified and from which the joy and happiness and hope you aspired to will flower again. In an even more resplendent but Mychal Judge less American century.
Fine Young Men
I hope you are having a great summer and enjoy those last few days before School begins!!! I have attached two fliers for you and your folks to look at and if you could "spread the word". This is not a Scout event but it is about being helpful and kind. I am always espousing how our Troop is filled with Scouts with great abilities and one of those abilities is to see beyond your selves and serve. I am sure as teenagers you may be aware of friends who are making bad decisions or squabbling with their folks. If so, let them know that Manasquan cares and there are healthy outlets to assist. Thanks and please give to whoever you think could use a hand up.
Tim Thompson, Chaplain
The attached monument was originally an idea I had to memorialize my folks who passed on in '94 and '96. It was put into action and completed when 9/11 happened. Mayor Dunne and my congregation assisted in dedicating it and I maintain the flag and change it if needed each Memorial Day and Veterans Day (two days taken very seriously in my home growing up). I compiled the text in an effort to reflect past, present, future with a focus on "In G-d We Trust". The Celtic cross reflects my Moms "Green" background and my Dads "Orange" background and is where they kept their focus - the Cross instead of politics, and Charity. It is how my folks lived their lives. They were simple people from NYC who loved the Shore and really believed in being AMERICAN. By the way they were a Den Leader and Asst Scout Leader in their time.
I wanted all to know the background, and location - east side of South St just north of Virginia Ave, and most importantly wanted you to know that it sums up what I see in Troop 59. A respect for the past (both mine and the original Patriots); an appreciation for the present (always shake the hand of a Veteran); and hope for the future (all the faces of all the Scouts and youth of the Shore).
So as we celebrate Easter, Passover, or simply the renewal of Spring take a look and when walking by, riding your bike by, or driving by - touch the stone, tip your hat, or simply smile. It stands for and the flag flies for "FINE YOUNG MEN" - just like you!
Brother Tim Thompson
Chaplain, Troop 59
Prejudice? “Fine young men” should give the benefit of the doubt first.
People are free to have opinions. Hopefully, they are based on actual observations rather than quick judgments though. Here is one of mine.
It was the Spring of 1969 and things were quite different in America then. I was playing with a baseball, mitt, and pitch-back on my side yard when I saw my Mom speaking with our garbageman. He was a thin “string-bean” type of man with baggy clothes. Very friendly and, oh yeah, a black fellow – Mr. John DeLoatch.
He let my Mom know that they were organizing a baseball team through the town recreation and asked if I would like to play. He said he would pick me up and drop me off as needed as my Mom did not drive (city girl). She said she would need to talk with my Father and would let him know.
I waited anxiously as my Mom asked what my Dad thought that night. “Well he sure works hard, find out what church he goes to?” was all my Dad said. An uncomfortable position for my Mom for sure but she found out and reported back, ha! All checked out and within a week I was a full-fledged player on the Spring Valley Gators.
Mr. DeLoatch would shake out an old Army bag with two bats, four sack bases, and one batting helmet (we shared a lot more back then, ha!). He put me at second, even though I was a lefty, and would gradually hit sharper and harder ground balls until I missed. Then he would back off and repeat the process, to each position. It took awhile to get confident and there was no sugar-coating. You either made the play or you made an error and it was silent either way. No cheering and no “nice try”. Just harder and harder ground balls, ha! Oh yeah, did I mention I was the only white kid on the team? At 9 years old I really did not mind though as this is where I wanted to be – on the baseball diamond.
James Wilkens, Elwood Price, Henry DeLoatch and I had a great summer – and oh yeah the Mets won the World Series that fall! We were truly unaware of what “issues” the world may have been having. To us life was just fine.
I am still a HUGE Mets fan to this day and still hit harder and harder grounders to my sons and then back off, just like I was coached. You see that summer took me from my Moms apron strings to a much larger world, beyond just baseball, all because one friendly garbageman took an interest and one understanding city girl was willing to give it a try.
So Scouts, yes you are entitled to your opinions, but always give the benefit of the doubt first. It can change the world.
Brother Tim Thompson, Chaplain
Be Reverent and let’s make Christ Merry!!!
I have been asked by a Scout what my moniker, “Noblesse Oblige” refers to or means (?) This is the perfect time of year to answer this.
It is an ancient standard which loosely translated from French means - those that are truly noble feel obligated. The definition I found further cites “benevolent, honorable behavior considered to be the responsibility of persons of high birth or rank”. As we are not too fond of nobility here in America I would discount the “high birth” nonsense but it is a standard that traces back to Chivalry (think Knights of the round-table or a Chevalier) so rank and the virtues of Scouting seems very appropriate.
On a day to day basis it means use your G-d given talents for the common good, that the strong must look out for the weak – not mock or take advantage of them, and that given the opportunity be charitable. If you think about it – follow the Scout Law.
While I watched the Troop collect and organize the “Scouting for Food” effort this year Noblesse Oblige echoed in my mind. You FINE YOUNG MEN live it! The yield of your labor was 61 produce boxes of various food items which permitted the Manasquan Food Pantry to distribute 172 Thanksgiving baskets this year. This Scouts is the best of benevolent and honorable behavior at a time when America needs it most.
So G-d Bless you and yours this Thanksgiving! Remember to say Grace at the table! And rest assured YOU have earned the drumstick!
Brother Tim Thompson
As fine young men and members of the Boy Scouts of America we have a unique opportunity in this world.
We are blessed to live in a country where a man’s faith is to be safeguarded against government interference. “Freedom of Religion” was new when America was begun and it came from a history of persecution of religions around the world. If you were not of the faith of whatever particular leader your country had you were usually treated as a second class citizen or subject or even worse, killed. With all the debate about a mosque at the World Trade Center site it is great to see these freedoms now being discussed around the world but people need to remember that this freedom should be a two way street. Too many times people simply root for only their religion as if they are rooting for a “home team” at a sporting event. This is not what the founding fathers wanted. Quite the contrary, they believed that if you encouraged freedom of religion and people could easily and genuinely practice their faith, whichever that chosen faith might be, they would in turn be more engaged citizens with a sense of duty and honour (which all religions tend to teach).
You Scouts may not know this but George Washington in his speeches addressed different faiths that people had and how they would fit into America’s plans. He referred to the Jewish people as Sons of Abraham (which they are) and Islamic people as Muhammadan (which they are). While many of the founding fathers were indeed of Christian backgrounds they were very careful to not establish a preferred religion not because anything was wrong with being Christian just because they had observed in their own lifetimes how when a particular religion is favored (and it does not matter which one) the next step is to look down on someone else’s religion. And they knew that when people begin looking down on each other G-d looks down on us all. This Scout’s is true wisdom.
As a Christian, and as a member of a family who were all born in NYC, I feel a raw nerve and great pain regarding the World Trade Center. It is like someone snuck into my grandmother’s apartment on the East Side and sucker punched her. I am very proud of how all that day ran towards the fight, not away, and did their best to survive and assist others. This is the best of the behavior Americans, and people from the New York metropolitan area, have to offer. We are good-hearted survivors despite what others may think.
I personally believe that another site should be chosen for the mosque based on the decision of good-hearted American Muslims. I would also hope that American union workers would gladly build it if in a different location. And to those who are grouping those of us who would like to see it moved as bigots, this is laughable. No one on earth is more open to others than NY’ers. Hence, if those around the world who are now espousing the “Brotherhood” and “Freedom of Religion” that we have always lived by really mean it then let them show it. I would like to see a Christian Church built next to Mecca and a Temple built next to St Peters (as an example). Then we would all be truly worthy of saying, “G-d Bless Us - Every One!” just like Dickens’s Tiny Tim (ha!).
So Scouts most importantly never let any man stand between you and your G-d, and in turn never put yourself between another man and his G-d – THIS is the American way!
Noblesse Oblige, Brother Tim Thompson
Summer! You got it! No school, no worries, no nothing if you want it – except the adventures of being a Boy Scout in Troop 59, Manasquan!
As you fine young men prepare to go off to Forestburg, Philmont, or simply enjoy the relaxation of summer in Manasquan do me a favor – would you (?)
When you wake in the morning at Forestburg or Philmont or Manasquan and before you rise and hit the day, lay there and listen to the sounds of nature and all that is around you for just a moment. It may be birds, it may be rain, it may be the ocean – it may be the crazy sounds of Scouts, ha! But listen and pause and take a deep breath – then say “Thanks”! Thanks to the Great Scout who provides and Thanks to your families and leaders who guide you.
Have a terrific summer “Fine Young Men”! Vaya Con Dios (Go with G-d)!
Brother Tim Thompson, Chaplain
Here is some general information concerning the BSA Religious Awards available for Scouts / Leaders to pursue on an individual basis. I say individual as they are optional, with no time constraints, and designed to each Scouts / Leaders particular religion / denomination (see attached and remember how global scouting is!). Monmouth Council has asked that an emphasis be put on getting this information to Parents / Scouts and Troop 59 will be discussing further in September ’10. Quite simply, the more we truly practice one’s own faith and attempt to respect other faiths the better the world will be.
Please note that the requirements / workbooks designed for these are compiled by the respective houses of worship not BSA. This is important as while it is a Scouting Award designed to encourage the Scout / Leader to be “REVERENT” and practice his / her particular faith, the award is presented by both the Troop and the individual Scouts Clergy at the respective house of worship (I have had Webelos receive them and it is a nice ceremony! All Clergy in Manasquan have been very cooperative with these efforts). If interested, the curriculum's and work booklets are available through Tim Thompson, Troop 59 Chaplain @ 732-403-6090.
Click Here for more information. >>>>> BSA Religious Awards
Brother Tim Thompson
Click here for a link to a very interesting article. >>> Better Boy
100 Years of good choices – Well done fine young men!!!
Within the celebrations in the current 100 years of Scouting events there are many single and individual episodes of sacrifice and good choices over that period of time. These episodes may have been long ago and they may be as of yesterday or today. They are the choices each individual Scout makes on a daily basis to do a “Good Turn” and to live by the “Scout Law”. These choices largely go unrecognized (Scouts are not boastful) and are simply the product of doing right for right sake. It starts with being aware of those around you and having a desire to participate and make a difference. This is a great virtue in a world which at times seems indifferent. It continues with disciplining yourselves to say no when that is the appropriate answer to a desire (Scouts should practice sacrifice rather than indulgence). It ends with being appreciative of the blessings around you (family and Scouting camaraderie) and not being afraid to say so even if doing so is uncool (Scouts should see their glass as half full instead of half empty always as it leads to cheerfulness).
So yes, we will hip-hip-hooray and parade and celebrate our centennial as we should! But remember that each Scout before you for 100 years for 365 days a year for countless choices on each of those days paused and did his best to do the right thing. Now that is something to celebrate – Well done fine young men!!!
Brother Tim Thompson, Chaplain
“Merry Christmas Rabbi Schervin”
Where I grew up many of the folks were Hebrew. They also were very observant, praying many times a day and keeping kosher (eating and preparing food in a certain way). One such man lived across from me and because he dressed a certain way I assumed he was a Rabbi (clergy / teacher). (Have you Scouts ever been with people different than yourselves?)
I was taught to respect all people of G-d though and as such used to say hello and acknowledge him when he passed and he would nod back to me. It was really nothing more than a young boy respecting an older neighbor.
One year it was around the holidays and as I passed the gentleman I said “Merry Christmas Rabbi Schervin”. I immediately realized my youthful mistake but really meant no offense; I was just greeting him as he passed. He turned to me, grinned, and said “and to you”. I was very happy that he gave me the benefit of the doubt.
It seems recently that many people are concerned about offending others so much that they simply don’t interact or stay with their “own kind”, which I never knew what this meant. Life is better when we celebrate together.
So this holiday, I am thankful for the simple experience of wishing Rabbi Schervin a Merry Christmas and even more so for his response. He taught me a lot about how children of G-d should act.
Peace, Shalom and all the best to you and yours!
Brother Tim Thompson, Chaplain