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Blue Mass marks 10th year thanking first responders

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An American flag and a flag of mourning hang from between two Cincinnati Fire Department ladder trucks Sept. 14 before a Blue Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. A Cincinnati police SWAT vehicle is also visible. These vehicles, and others, were blessed prior to the Mass. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)
An American flag and a flag of mourning hang from between two Cincinnati Fire Department ladder trucks Sept. 14 before a Blue Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. A Cincinnati police SWAT vehicle is also visible. These vehicles, and others, were blessed prior to the Mass. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)

By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Sept. 14, was the day of the 10th annual Blue Mass, held to thank and pray for the men and women who serve as police, firefighters and other emergency personnel.

Before the Mass, people gathered outside the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains on a sunny Sunday morning as celebrant Father Steve Angi blessed emergency vehicles parked along Plum Street. Father Angi is the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Chancellor and a chaplain for the Cincinnati Police Department.

Deacon David Klingshirn of the cathedral and Deacon Fred Haas, a Cincinnati District 3 chaplain, assisted at the Mass.

A large American flag hung from a pair of Cincinnati Fire Department ladder trucks with a black and purple banner below it, representing those who have died in the line of duty as an officer sang the national anthem and a representative from the sheriff’s department played God Bless America on a bagpipe.

Police, firefighters, ambulance personnel and citizens’ patrol groups were in attendance from multiple departments. Cincinnati police, Cincinnati fire, Lincoln Heights fire and Elmwood Place fire departments were among those that brought vehicles to be blessed.

During his homily, Father Angi told a story of a young girl’s mother likening emergency responders to “angels, for us.” He also mentioned the sacrificial element of the professions and the call to bring comfort.

“This great outpouring of self in total surrender for the good of others is reflected in all of you gathered here today, for you exemplify these qualities in your public duties,” he said. “This is why little children look up to you. Because beneath the uniform, they see in you the awesome responsibilities to protect, to give of yourself in public service and to comfort the afflicted you encounter in your work day by day.”

Father Angi also asked a special blessing on the families of police, firefighters and emergency personnel. He concluded with the prayer that all those honored in the Blue Mass remember their call.

“We pray that the angels of God surround you. The angels of god protect you, and may you be reminded of your great call, to always become angles for those you serve,” he said.

At the end of Mass, Cincinnati Police Officer Louis Arnold and firefighter Richard Baker respectively read the names of the deceased from their own professions who died in the past year. A reception followed on the plaza.

The Mass, which traces its origin to 1934 nationally, occurs annually in September because Catholic tradition looks upon St. Michael the Archangel as the patron of safety personnel. His feast is celebrated Sept. 29.

Posted Sept. 15, 2014

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