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Chapter 1 - Early Days Of Father Thomas Augustine Judge

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Chapter One
Early Days Of Father Thomas Augustine Judge


Father Thomas Augustine Judge

Thomas Augustine Judge, the Founder of The Shrine Of Saint Joseph was born in Boston, Massachusetts on August 23, 1868. He was the fifth child of eight children born to Thomas and Mary Judge. As soon as possible, he was bundled out of the little frame house on Ninth Street and taken over to St. Peter and Paul's on West Broadway, to become a Son of God, and to receive his father's name.

Due lo the influx of 1,000,000 Irish Immigrants, Boston was known as "Irish Town" The Irish did not receive a cordial welcome and they crowded into South Boston, or "Southy" as it was called. They tenaciously began to set up a new life. It was in one of those "Southy" homes that Mr. and Mrs. Judge lived.   They were as poor as their neighbors, and found it no barrier to making a home, bright in the faith and warm with love. Mr. Judge was a hard worker, light hearted, with a beautiful singing voice. The neighbors were often in to hear him sing the Old Irish songs.

Mrs. Judge was the wife and mother, managing to make a comfortable home, and always had something handy to share with a needy neighbor. She never missed a day at the Seven-thirty Mass. She always had a pleasant word for everyone, and a sympathetic heart for any one in need.

Thomas was a lively boy, sturdy and pious, but with a piety that did not always reach to the eternals. At the family rosary, there often had to be a meaningful nudge from his mother to make him stop playing with the cat. He attended Public schools, as there were no Parochial schools available at that time. By the time he was old enough for his first Holy Communion, St. Augustine's church was built and he received and was confirmed there.

If there was anything to set him apart, there was no sign that his friends could recognize. If the boys were out for a swim at the "L" street baths, he was the first one in the water. He was full of fun and had his father's beautiful singing voice. He loved animals and there was one cat, which trailed after him every place he went. The cat's name was Fanny. One day he got in trouble for bringing the cat a pocket full of minnows and was caught lying on the floor letting the eat fish them out of his pocket.

Tom was an inquisitive student, with a special talent for words. By the time he reached Boston High, he knew how to use them. More than once he made stump speeches on the corner fur some political issue that was stirring up the neighborhood. Asked what he wanted to be, he would say "a Horse Doctor". But serious thoughts of the priesthood were forming in his mind, when this happy family circle was shaken by the death of his father. That was in the mid 1880's, When the funeral was over his mother called the children into a little council She explained their situation exactly, talking it over with them., emphasizing that if they nil pulled together and believed in the great confidence of God's providence, they would survive.

Tom was-sixteen then and not the oldest son, but he wanted to assume his father's place in the family. He went to work and transferred to night school. He had a  position in the office of a tool manufacturing plant. For a while he was also a substitute letter carrier. Nights, he continued to study earnestly at his school work, but he took if as God’s will that he should set aside, for the present, any thoughts of the seminary.

A year or two later, it was apparent that under his Mother's guidance, the family was getting on nicely, and that he could entertain the great calling he was experiencing. Accordingly, he began to look about for help in deciding his vocation. He had no strong attraction to any particular group. He spoke to several priests about the matter. One autumn, the Vincentian Fathers gave a Mission at St Augustine's Parish. Tom went in to see the Head of the Mission and was so kindly and helpfully received that before the interview was over he had decided he would be a son of Saint Vincent De Paul.

Tom decided it was time to reveal his decision lo his Mother and tell her of the plans* which had been going through his mind and of his interview with the Vincentian Fathers. His mother wanted to be sure that it was not a passing enthusiasm but his happiness and determination were sufficient answers. She thanked God that he had chosen one of her children, and she prepared to help him in every way.

Thomas Augustine Judge was ordained a Vincentian priest on May 27,1899, of the Congregation of the Mission, at Saint Charles' Seminary, Overbrook, Pennsylvania. The following day, Trinity Sunday, he said his first Mass in Saint Vincent's Seminary, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over the previous year he had been a victim of tuberculosis and everyone thought that he would soon die. The young priest thought differently. He said his first Mass, entered into all the celebrations, and spent the day with his family and friends.


Stages of Father Judge's Life

By now there was little doubt that he was very sick, and his superiors sent him home with his mother with this remark, "If anyone can cure him, you can. If not, then send him back to us". He went home and tried as best he could to regain his health.

He said Mass at the houses of the Sisters of Charity. He was very weak and had a severe cough, but his will was as strong as his cough, and his faith in Our Blessed Mother was stronger. His health was still poor, so lie was not immediately detailed to the mission band or given exact duties. However, his pent-up zeal knew" no bounds and he began to work among the Italian poor of the neighborhood.

From the beginning of his first full-time parochial assignment, he turned his thoughts to the fact that everywhere large numbers of souls were being lost to the church for the lack of someone to be the good shepherd in their regard. There were vast numbers of foreign born who were not being reached. Some older people would cling to their faith, but what about the children? Father said, "The first agent in conversion was generally some man or woman in the office, store or factory, school room or sick room." It is the opinion of many that he was far in advance of his time. He saw the tremendous power of the laity in assisting the hierarchy in their mission to teach all nations.

About 1903, Father Judge was appointed to the regular mission band domiciled at Saint Vincent's church, Germantown. His intensity as a mission worker soon became apparent. He was a marvelous talker and he felt it was his duty to preach. God was everywhere and He should be talked of everywhere. Whenever he felt that there was an opportunity to tell someone of the Unknown God, he did not let that opportunity go unheeded.

 About 1905 his love for God plunged him irrevocably into a series of good works that led him through a labyrinth of persecutions and triumphs, weariness of body, and the loneliness of misunderstanding .

As the numbers grew, he realized they needed a mother to guide them. After calling on the Holy Spirit, he appointed Lulu Kensey, a young country school teacher from Pennsylvania, who later became Mother Boniface. She made Father Judge's burden much lighter. The work went on and spread into many dioceses and also to Puerto Rico.

As he changed assignments, devoted followers increased and multiplied. Father Judge kept in touch by writing to these people. In 1913 a Missionary Cenacle was opened on Madison Street, Baltimore, Maryland. And in 1915 a Missionary Cenacle was opened in an Italian quarter of Orange, New Jersey. When Father Judge was transferred to Opalika, Alabama, he called upon his volunteers in the north to help him. There was no idea of Religious Communities at that time. It seemed that more women than men were interested in his work.

In May, 1916 after giving a series of retreats in the north, Father Judge returned south, bringing with him two men who had been active in the lay apostolate work in New Jersey - Eugene Brenner and Andrew Philips. Around this nucleus grew The Missionary Servants Of The Most Holy Trinity. By 1923 there were three communities of sisters and one of Priests and Brothers on the Island of Puerto Rico. In 1924, Father Judge opened a Foundation at Holy Trinity Hill, Stirling, New Jersey. Here he fostered a special devotion to Saint Joseph. Under the patronage of this great saint, a needed missionary work was carried out. The first Missionary servant of The Most Holy Trinity was Brother Augustine Phillips.


Brother Augustine (Andrew) Philips

The idea of a spiritualized laity appears to have been with Father Judge right from the start. He was a man with vision. In the first days of his priesthood he did not have a clear concept of just what it would lead to, but he was willing to be guided by the Holy Ghost. He saw then the tremendous power of the laity in assisting the religious in their mission to teach all nations.

All through his life he said, "save the child and you save all". What "you propose to do, especially for the children, is Christ like, a divine work. What a work that is, and with the patience and kindness of the heart of Christ to win back to the church those who are wayward."

Whenever he was asked to say a few words he would take advantage of the opportunity to talk for thirty or more minutes about the abandoned Christ who hung limp, and taut, and died, upon a tree that would bring forth the truth of life. His conferees testify to his power to sway audiences of both men and women. He was always ready and willing to talk and often would talk twice the time he was allotted.

He could persuade in private conversations, too, by the sheer force of his trust in God and his understanding of the human heart in relation to God's Mercy. Because of this he was called upon time and time again to do a much needed missionary work dear to the heart of all priests, a work which Father Judge has committed to his spiritual sons.

Whenever he was asked to say a few words he would take advantage of the opportunity to talk for thirty or more minutes about the abandoned Christ who hung limp, and taut, and died, upon a tree that would bring forth the truth of life. His conferees testify to his power to sway audiences of both men and women. He was always ready and willing to talk and often would talk twice the time he was allotted. He could persuade in private conversations, too, by the sheer force of his trust in God and his understanding of the human heart in relation to God's Mercy.

Because of this he was called upon time and time again to do a much needed missionary work dear to the heart of all priests, a work which Father Judge has committed to his spiritual sons.

First, it was the Holy Name Society. Everywhere on the missions he preached the Holy Name. His intensity for corralling members for the Holy Name Society throughout the country made hint neglect other things seemingly more necessary for the missions. Every man who went to confession to him who was unwilling to join the Holy Name Society was in for a good long argument, no matter how many men or hundreds of men were waiting in line to be heard. Years later we see the results of his love of the Holy Name.

Father Thomas Augustine Judge, after untold suffering and pain finally left his earthly home quietly on November 23,1933, on his heavenly journey to God.


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