The Catholic call to service takes many forms. Frequently one thinks of a vocation to the priestly and religious life as a form of service. Other forms of service might be as a policeman or fireman or a social worker. However I recently had the great pleasure to read and review a book by Kelly Ann Lynch, He Said Yes, The Story of Father Mychal Judge, which tells the story of a heroic priest, and chaplain firefighter. Father Mychal Judge was killed while ministering to the needs of victims after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers on 9/11. 

The book is a well written and superbly illustrated (illustrations by M.Scott Oatman) book that tells the story of Fr.Mychal and his life from his earliest days as a schoolchild, until his tragic death in the 9/11 tragedy. What is significantly telling about this book is that it captures the remarkable journey of “yes” in the life of a man whose vocation was to be a priest, a firefighter, a social worker and a multitude of other vocations as he served as primarily a Catholic priest.

The author provides a tender portrayal of Fr.Mychal throughout all stages of his life, and weaves into the account positive theological actions and Catholic acts of mercy and charity. Fr.Mychal’s life and ministry are told from short stories of individuals that were the recipients of his priestly ministry and Christian service…all culminating with the ending…”He said yes.”

My daughter enjoyed the book (she is 8 years old) and especially enjoyed the hidden items and messages contained in the illustrations. The topic of 9/11 and the loss of life in particular is always a difficult one for children, however this book is a sensitive narrative that gently and prayerfully explains the events of that day in the context of Fr.Mychal’s gift of service and “yes.”

The conclusion of the book tells about the commendable charity, Mychal’s Message which has been established to continue the work of Fr.Mychal Judge. The inclusion of the charity’s great works is a living testimony to the legacy of Fr.Mychal and all of the heroes of the tragic day of 9/11 in American history.

The fact that the proceeds of the book will directly benefit the homeless is in itself an exemplary and commendable reason to read, purchase and cherish this book.  Dealing with sensitive issues through remarkable illustrations and simple words, the author and illustrator have joined to provide a meaningful presentation to children and parents alike about Christian vocation and community service in a time of need and disaster that should be recognized by all faithful believers. The ability to have a simple resource that places these events in proper perspective for a child is remarkable. Hopefully the events in the book will provide a catalyst that keeps my daughter asking questions about life, death, priestly service and the call to Christian fellowship for a long time…

The book is available from Paulist Press in September. The price is $12.95.

http://www.paulistpress.com/

Hugh J.McNichol …writes a daily blog on theological issues at http://www.verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com/

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