In this space I have previously written of my experience celebrating both “Red” and “White” masses for the legal and medical professions respectively. This morning for the first time i celebrated a “Blue” mass for those women and men serving in the police, fire, EMT and private security professions. As locals know all too well, the last three years we have bade farewell to two police officers in Tampa, three in St. Petersburg in the first two months of this year alone, and recently one private security guard, all of whom were killed in the line of duty. Monsignor Robert Gibbons, the pastor of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in St. Petersburg was approached earlier this year by several parishioners following the deaths of the three St. Petersburg policemen about the possibility of having such a Mass and time was found this morning on my schedule for this celebration of bravery, valor and heroism. If you wish, you may read my homily by clicking here.
About one hundred and fifty people turned out for the Mass this morning which was not bad for the first time effort. I hope it will grow each year and that a way may be found to involve those in the safety professions in our other counties. Two bagpipers led the procession in and out and an officer carried a flag with streamers with the names of all fallen officers of the St. Petersburg Police Department on it.
Blue Masses began in 1934 and became an annual moment in the lives of dioceses in the Northeast. As one might expect, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago to name but four had police departments with large Catholic police and fire department members. Holy Cross, St. Patrick’s, Holy Name cathedrals would be full of mostly men at that time in their blue uniforms, hence the name.
It is very important that we not take the lives of these defenders of our security for granted. Every day they take risks that few of us appreciate or can even comprehend. What better place to thank those, dead in the line of duty and alive than at the Eucharist which means “Thanksgiving.” I applaud Monsignor Gibbons and the people of St. Paul’s for reinstituting what I promise will be an annual tradition and I thank those who attended this first Blue Mass in a long time.
Please remember these earthly Guardian Angels in your own prayers and give thanks for their service and sacrifice.