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2017 Blue Mass

Sunday, September 10
10:30 a.m.
St. John Church
217 York Street, Bangor

Hundreds of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel will be recognized for their faithful commitment and self-sacrifice at the Blue Mass on Sunday, September 10, at 10:30 a.m., at St. John Church on 217 York Street in Bangor.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley will celebrate the Mass, joined by priests and deacons from throughout the diocese, and show gratitude to these dedicated heroes.

People of all faiths are encouraged to attend and join in showing our gratitude to these dedicated heroes. All active and retired members of the public safety community are invited to participate.

“We gather for the Blue Mass to honor those who serve the community by providing safety and protection in Maine,” said Bishop Deeley. “These calls to public safety confer an incredible responsibility and, at times, are taken on at a profound personal price which can even include the ultimate sacrifice. We will thank God for this service and remember the brave who have given their lives in the name of duty and honor. The common good is strengthened by the unconditional way in which these first responders accept their responsibility. This, we must never forget.”

The Mass is planned and organized by diocesan officials and representatives from local, county, and state public safety agencies. Color guards, including a multi-jurisdictional honor guard, will be on hand.


2016 Blue Mass

 

“What happened on 9/11 reminded us that we are well-served by those who protect us and serve us.
We do not need to wait until a disaster strikes to be grateful for the dedication of all of those whose life work is the protection of the public.”
---Bishop Robert P. Deeley

A large American flag, held in place atop Portland Fire Department ladder trucks, waved in the breeze over Franklin Street as the Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum Corps filled the air with a stirring performance of “Amazing Grace.”

The indelible scene welcomed a gathering, including hundreds of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel, to the 2016 Blue Mass, celebrated by Bishop Robert P. Deeley. Every pew of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was filled with many standing in the back of the cathedral for the Mass.

The Blue Mass annually bestows blessings upon all who contribute to public safety and health in Maine and honors first responders for their heroic service.

Sunday’s Mass was particularly poignant as it was held on the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, evoking memories of the many courageous men and women who ran towards danger to save their fellow man on that day.

“What happened on 9/11 reminded us that we are well-served by those who protect us and serve us. We do not need to wait until a disaster strikes to be grateful for the dedication of all of those whose life work is the protection of the public,” said Bishop Deeley. “In this Blue Mass, our purpose in being here is not only to thank you for your service to society, but also to thank God for your service, and to ask God’s blessing on each of you. May He protect you as you serve us.”

The events of September 11, 2001, served as the impetus for the Diocese of Portland to institute the Blue Mass, which is planned and organized by diocesan officials and representatives from local, county, and state public safety agencies. Bishop Deeley said that the good that stood amidst the evil that day must not be forgotten when communities and their relationships with law enforcement become strained.    

“This year has presented serious challenges for those in law enforcement,” said the bishop. “Those challenges have even included violence and the murder of police officers. All the more does that make a gathering such as this more necessary. It is a reminder of the good that is done by those who help to keep order in our society. Our prayer, then, for the frayed corners of our society must be all the more fervent.”

Color guards, including a multi-jurisdictional honor guard, were on hand, as were people of different faiths. U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, and Public Safety Commissioner John Morris were among the dignitaries in attendance.

Many of the Mass’ participants are also connected to the public safety community, including two of the deacons. Deacon Kevin Jacques has served as the chaplain for the Biddeford Fire and Police Departments and the Saco Fire Department for nearly two decades. Deacon Jeffrey Lewis, who is currently the chaplain for the Gardiner Fire Department, was an EMS provider for over 38 years and has served as a firefighter.

Lieutenant Frank Clark of the South Portland Police Department and Deputy Patrick Ferriter of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department served as readers. Representatives from Portland Police and the Maine State Police served as the gift bearers.

In this Holy Year of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis, believers are called to reflect on God’s gift of mercy. Bishop Deeley suggested to the hundreds in the assembly that one way to respond to that call is by seeking ways, large and small, to be a sign of hope for those we encounter each day.

“Start, I might suggest, by recognizing the enormous burden we place on those who protect and serve us, our first responders,” said the bishop. “In the midst of a fractured and divided society, they go about trying to keep order. We pray for them today, but it would also be good if we take the time in our daily activity to offer them a word of gratitude. So, the next time you pass a police officer or firefighter or game warden on the street, or you find yourself rushing to an appointment and get stopped for putting others in danger because of your excessive speed, thank the police officer for his or her service. At that moment, you are being protected. That is an act of mercy.”


2015 Blue Mass

“Our purpose in being here this morning is not only to thank you, but also to thank God for your service, and to ask God’s blessing on each of you.
May He protect you as you serve us.”---Bishop Robert P. Deeley

Though faced with a windy and rainy morning in Portland, community members gathered and stood reverentially as law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel processed under a large American flag, held in place atop Portland Fire Department ladder trucks on Franklin Street on Sunday, September 13.

Led by the Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum Corps, the representatives from the public safety community made their way into the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, joining hundreds of others to be recognized for their faithful commitment and sacrifice at the 2015 Blue Mass.

“We have invited those who serve our community by providing safety and protection in Maine to be with us this morning,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley, who celebrated the Mass. “Our gathering provides us an opportunity, first of all, to honor and thank all those who watch over public safety in our communities here in Maine, all those who serve as first responders and protectors of public order, health, and safety. We come together today to express our gratitude for the service you offer us. And we are truly grateful that you perform this service in so many ways.”

Law enforcement and public safety agency representatives assisted in planning the Mass, and members of their respective communities participated in it as well. A multi-jurisdictional color guard posted the colors before Mass; honor guards lined the stairs and walkway outside of the Cathedral; Lieutenant Frank Clark of the South Portland Police Department and Deputy Patrick Ferriter of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department served as readers; and Officer Kevin Haley of the Portland Police Department, Lieutenant Walther Grzyb of the Maine State Police, and Officer Jacob Lachance of the South Portland Police Department served as the gift bearers.

Bishop Deeley noted that in this, a particularly difficult year for those in law enforcement, the celebration of the Blue Mass is as meaningful today as when it was instituted in the Diocese of Portland following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. 

“Disrespect, violence, and even murder have become problematic. All the more does that make a gathering such as this more necessary,” said the bishop. “It is a reminder of the good that is done by those who help to keep order in our society. These calls to public service confer an incredible responsibility and, as such, demand the public trust. At times they are taken on at a profound personal price which, sadly, can even include the ultimate sacrifice of the very lives of you who serve. As we gather today, then, with you who have a special care for the protection of the public we pray that God may bless you, and keep you safe in your great responsibilities to the service of the common good.”

Clergy with special ties to the public safety community also assisted at the Blue Mass. Deacon Kevin Jacques has served as the chaplain for the Biddeford Fire and Police Departments and the Saco Fire Department for nearly two decades.

Deacon Jeffrey Lewis, who is currently the chaplain for the Gardiner Fire Department, was an EMS provider for over 38 years, and has served as a firefighter, helped to remember the brave who have given their lives in the name of duty and honor.

“For all who have died while performing their duty, may they share in the fullness of salvation as promised by Christ,” said Deacon Lewis during the Universal Prayer.

The Blue Mass, which expressed the community’s boundless gratitude to true heroes and their loving and supportive families and friends, proved again to be a fitting tribute to the work done by all who serve, and an opportunity to pray that God will watch over and care for all who serve to ensure public safety.

“Our purpose in being here this morning is not only to thank you, but also to thank God for your service, and to ask God’s blessing on each of you,” said Bishop Deeley. “May He protect you as you serve us.”

For a complete photo gallery from the 2015 Blue Mass, click here.


2014 Blue Mass

A large American flag, held in place atop ladder trucks provided by the Auburn and Lewiston Fire Departments, waved in the breeze as the Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum Corps filled the air with a stirring performance of “Amazing Grace.” The indelible scene welcomed hundreds of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel to the 2014 Blue Mass, celebrated by Bishop Robert P. Deeley, at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston on Sunday morning, September 14. The Mass annually bestows blessings upon all who contribute to public health and safety in Maine.

“Our purpose in bringing you together is to express gratitude for the service you offer us,” said Bishop Deeley to the first responders and rescue workers gathered. “These calls to public service confer an incredible responsibility and, as such, demand the public trust. At times they are taken on at a profound personal price which, sadly, can even include the ultimate sacrifice of the very lives of you who serve. Our purpose in being here this morning is not only to thank you, but also to thank God for your service, and to ask God’s blessing on each of you. May He protect you as you serve us.”

Law enforcement and public safety agency representatives assisted in planning the Mass, and members of their respective communities participated in it as well. A multi-jurisdictional color guard posted the colors before Mass, while Chief Paul LeClair of the Lewiston Fire Department, Deputy Eric Samson of the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office, and Officer Michael Lacombe of the Lewiston Police Department served as readers. The Portland Police Department Honor Guard, one of several honor guards in attendance, served as the gift bearers. 

During his homily, Bishop Deeley told the public safety community that their work is service in the way the Lord Jesus calls all of us to give to one another.

“Even as we thank you for all that you do, and ask God to watch over you and bless your work, I hope this reflection today reminds all of us that service is not just something we do in our professions,” said the bishop. “It is a way of life, it is the way we define ourselves as Jesus’ followers. And so we are called not just to serve professionally, but also in our families, in our communities, and in our churches. By so living, we, indeed, become co-workers with the Lord Jesus.”   

Local and state dignitaries, including Congressman Michael Michaud, Maine Public Safety Commissioner John Morris, and Lewiston Mayor Robert MacDonald, attended the Mass, joining in recognizing the self-sacrifice and dedication of our heroes. The events of 9/11 served as the impetus for the Diocese of Portland to institute the Blue Mass locally. It is the principal occasion for the diocese to recognize those who protect us throughout Maine.

“May God bless you, and keep you safe in your great responsibilities to the service of the common good,” said Bishop Deeley.


Blue Mass History

The Blue Mass, referring to the blue uniforms worn by so many public safety personnel, dates back to 1934 and is a venerable tradition in many dioceses. In the Diocese of Portland, many of our Catholics serve in crucial posts protecting our communities. This Mass calls forth in us a greater awareness of, and gratitude for, the lives of those who serve us so faithfully. Our lives are a gift from God, given to us that we might in turn give our lives in service to Him and to others. This truth is one virtually ingrained into the lives of our police, fire and rescue personnel. Day in and day out they put their lives on the line for us.

“Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).