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‘A heartbreaking loss’: FDNY Chaplain John Delendick laid to rest


Monsignor John Delendick, who as an FDNY chaplain for nearly 28 years guided firefighters and their families through the aftermath of 9/11, was honored and remembered at a funeral Mass on Friday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn surrounded by family, firefighters and department officials.  

Delendick, 74, passed away on Thanksgiving after a battle with 9/11-related pancreatic cancer. Delendick joined the department in 1996, 19 years after he was ordained into Catholic priesthood, and he took on an outsized role as the FDNY’s spiritual and emotional guide following the death of Chaplain Father Mychal Judge on 9/11. On that day, Delendick walked through the Battery Tunnel to reach ground zero, where he remained into the late evening aiding other members of the department and offering blanket absolution to everyone he saw. 

He spent much of the next several days counseling and supporting the first responders working through the towers’ remains and consoling people coming to ground zero to search for loved ones. In the months following the attacks, Delendick officiated countless funerals and memorial services for the fallen, attended support groups and accompanied FDNY families to ground zero. 

And on anniversaries of the attacks, Delendick would celebrate Mass in firehouses across the city. As the senior FDNY chaplain for the 22 years after 9/11, he participated in many plaque dedications, graduations, promotional ceremonies and memorial services.  

“Today we thank Monsignor Delendick for his service and for all he has done for the department,” FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said at Friday’s service. “We thank him for being a compassionate friend and a confidant, for showing empathy and creating space for grief. He taught us how to live and he also taught us how to let go.” 

Kavanagh said that his position in the department was “a job he loved and cherished to the very end.” 


Monsignor John Delendick during a July 2011 tribute ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Photo: FDNY
Monsignor John Delendick during a July 2011 tribute ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Photo: FDNY

In October, in the throes of his illness, Delendick offered a prayer at the FDNY’s annual Memorial Day service. “We are gathered in this place to honor and remember those who have died within this department over the past year,” he said. “Father, we have come here to give you thanks and praise ... for allowing to be able to do what they do best: serve the people of this city, serving those who are in need, serving those who are in distress.” 

Delendick, a native of Queens, was recognized for his dedicated service by Pope John Paul II in 2003 when he was appointed “Chaplain to His Holiness,” with the title of reverend monsignor. 

The number of FDNY members who have died from 9/11 illnesses has surpassed the 343 who died on the day of the attacks. Earlier this month, the FDNY lost retired Battalion Chief Christopher Scalone to a 9/11-related illness and three days after Delendick’s death retired Firefighter Michael Daly succumbed to a World Trade Center illness. 

At least 11,000 FDNY members have at least one certified WTC-related illness, and more than 3,500 members are suffering from cancer, FDNY officials have said.  

“It’s a heartbreaking loss for New York’s Bravest, and for our entire city,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement following Delendick’s passing. “Monsignor Delendick touched countless lives, providing comfort and prayer to FDNY members and all those in need. He left an indelible mark on our city. We join the entire Fire Department and every New Yorker in mourning his loss, as we pray for Monsignor Delendick’s family and friends.” 

Following the funeral, Delendick was buried in St. John Cemetery in Queens. He is survived by two sisters. 



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