A political plea came from the pulpit of Reverend Marjorie Neal today during the funeral mass for fallen firefighter, Chief Michael Goodwin.
In front of hundreds of mourners that included fellow firefighters, police officers, friends, family and city leaders, Neal turned straight to the mayor and asked him to end the contract dispute.
"Now to mark his passing, I want to be so bold as to reach out to our Mayor and City Commissioners and humbly request that you do whatever is necessary to provide a contract for our firefighters," Neal said.
Applause erupted from the pews.
The city and Local 22, the union for firefighters, have not been able to agree on a contract since Nutter took office and the battle has become bitter.
Neal's tone was a conciliatory, not at all demanding. It came as she talk about Goodwin's 29 years of service to the city.
"I am sure to the very core of my being, as much as we view Michael to be a hero, each man and woman firefighter here also are heroes, each day. . . and I believe the very least we can do is honor them with a contract. I know Mike would like that.
Goodwin was killed in a blaze Saturday night in South Philadelphia. He fell through the roof of a building along Fabric Row on 4th Street in Queen Village. Another firefighter was burned while trying to rescue him and is recovering. 28-year-old Andrew Godlewski was released from the hospital on Sunday.
Mourners filed into Saint Michael's Lutheran Church in the city's Kensington section to pay their final respects to the 53-year-old.
A fire truck carried Goodwin's casket from a northeast Philadelphia funeral home to the church. The memorial service will be followed by burial at Hillside Cemetery in Roslyn.
On Wednesday night, hundreds paid tribute to the fallen firefighter as Goodwin's viewing began.
Goodwin’s crew from Ladder 27, including Godlewski with bandages on his hand, stood at attention outside the funeral home Wednesday night.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Mayor Michael Nutter both were on hand to show their support for the city’s grieving fire department and mourn Goodwin.
“They were there for us when we lost so many of our members over the years and we are now here for them,” Ramsey said.
The viewing is scheduled to begin Thursday morning at the Givnish Funeral Home in northeast Philadelphia from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. A celebration of life memorial service will be at noon at Saint Michel's Lutheran Church in the city's Kensington section. Burial will follow at Hillside Cemetery in Roslyn, Pa.
In the days after Goodwin's death he son, Michael Jr., spoke about his father and the support the family was receiving.
"He taught me everything I need to know to be a man and now I feel I'm better because of that.
"We're getting absolute love and support from everyone all over the city," said Goodwin's son. "My mother, sister, his grandchildren and I would like to ask you to continue to support and keep the family in your prayers in this difficult time ahead."
Roads around the area are closed so expect possible traffic delays.
Goodwin, a 29-year veteran, had recently taken the test for a promotion to battalion chief. He's being posthumously promoted.