Rev. Monsignor John Delendick was a Catholic chaplain with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) who comforted firefighters and their families at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.
John Delendick’s legacy
Delendick was ordained as a priest in 1977, and he served at several churches before joining the FDNY in 1996. His work became especially important after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He was on site at Ground Zero, blessing the bodies of those who were killed in the attack. He also worked directly with firefighters who were grieving the loss of colleagues or otherwise struggling in the aftermath of the attacks. And he traveled to Ground Zero with the families of missing or fallen firefighters, comforting them as they viewed the site where their loved ones were lost.
In 2003, Delendick was named Chaplain to his Holiness by Pope John Paul II (1920–2005). This honor came with the new title of Reverend Monsignor. In recent years, he had stepped back from regular duties while he battled cancer, but he continued to serve as a fill-in chaplain.
Delendick’s pancreatic cancer was linked to his exposure to toxins at Ground Zero. Just a few months before his death, he attended an annual memorial to those from the FDNY who died of 9/11-related illnesses in the past year.
Delendick’s memory of 9/11
“We were running along, and a cop is running next to me. He says: ‘Father, can I go to confession?’ I looked and said: ‘This is an act of war, isn’t it?’ He said: ‘Yeah, I believe so.’ I said: ‘Then I’m giving general absolution.’ I gave everyone general absolution, and I kept running.” —from a 2023 interview for the New York Daily News
Tributes to John Delendick
Full obituary: New York Daily News