PROVIDENCE — All are welcome to show their support for the dedicated service provided by police officers, firefighters and first responders from across the state as members of the emergency services —accompanied by members of their families — are honored for their calling during the second annual diocesan Blue Mass, which will be held on Sunday, September 24 at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of SS. Peter & Paul.
“It is always a great feeling for members of law enforcement and all first responders to know that they are in the thoughts and prayers of others,” Chief Dean Hoxsie, president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, said in an interview with Rhode Island Catholic.
He said that the support he and his brethren in emergency services receive from the public they serve, along with the Church, means a great deal to them. It also helps to keep them focused on all the good that they do, even in the toughest of times.
“With the continual public criticism of your profession, the public support we receive through the diocese is both a welcome show of support and a comfort to those of us out there doing our job every day,” he said. “Whether you are strong in faith or not, the church provides comfort, support and a much-needed opportunity to come together and celebrate our professions.”
Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans will serve as the main celebrant at Sunday’s Mass.
Bishop Evans said that members of the emergency services have sworn solemn oaths to protect and serve and do so well, even in the face of extreme adversity.
The public and church support provided through the Blue Mass provides an opportunity for everyone to come together to give thanks to the men and women who risk their lives to protect us all and to pray for their continued safety, he noted.
“We thank them for being there for us, for providing a shield against crime, disaster and sudden illness, for what they do for the least of their neighbors they do for the Lord God,” he said. “May God bless and protect them always!”
Last year, the first-ever Blue Mass in the diocese honored members from a number of police departments and their families.
Following a large turnout then, as well as a strong showing of support from among the faithful, the Blue Mass has been expanded this year to include the full spectrum of police, fire and first responders.
“Last year, the police officers left feeling very affirmed when it was such a positive event and directed towards them. They were very moved by that,” said Father Joseph Escobar, pastor of Holy Rosary Church in Providence, who serves as the chaplain for the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association.
“I think it’s important for them to come together, to pray together and also to be recognized for the sacrifices that they make, and to be affirmed by our appreciation for that sacrifice by having this particular Mass.”
The occasion will also feature some pomp and circumstance as members of the various departments will gather on Cathedral Square to begin their procession into the Cathedral of SS. Peter & Paul at about 9:40 a.m., according to Father Escobar.
Those units that have color guards will present their colors inside the cathedral, while the national anthem will be sung just before the start of Mass at 10 a.m. Following the Mass, light refreshments will be served.