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Basilica hosts annual Blue Mass

Nick Bock | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The seventh annual Blue Mass to honor public safety personnel was held Monday night at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

The Mass is celebrated to honor firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel, active, retired, living and dead, who dedicate their lives to “protect and defend the communities we live in,” said Father Richard Warner, director of Campus Ministry, who delivered the homily.

In addition to the numerous civil service members, all dressed in their blue uniforms, the Basilica was filled with family members, students, citizens and scattered military personnel. University President Father John Jenkins celebrated the Mass.

The Blue Mass has been celebrated every year since Sept. 11, 2001, to commemorate the contribution provided by civil service personnel. This year’s Mass was celebrated in remembrance of three Indiana civil safety officers who died this year. Cpl. Nick S. Polizzotto of the South Bend police department and Indiana state trooper David E. Rich were both killed in the line of duty. The Mass also honored Notre Dame Security Police Director Rex Rakow, who died in March after a long illness.

The Mass began with a procession of active fire fighters and police officers. After reading the Beatitudes, Warner said the challenges of “being merciful and compassionate in the face of need” are ones we “all try and hope to emulate.”

He said that civil service members “do everything with courage and confidence,” and that they “respond with training at the professional level and with courage and integrity at a personal level.”

This is done so that we can have communities where “people can live safe and protected lives twenty-four hours a day,” he said.

Stephen Healey, the chief of the Princeton police department, delivered a concluding message. He said fire fighters and police officers “share a special bond because we have all dedicated ourselves to a common cause and realize that we too may one day be called to make the ultimate sacrifice,” referring to the hazardous and life-threatening situations inherent to their jobs.

Healey said those who died are remembered “not because of their deaths, but because of their lives.”

Quoting a police department memorial, Healey concluded that “in valor there is hope.”

Warner said this mass was held “to remind [emergency personnel] that your work does not go unnoticed … and to show how much we depend on your silent and dedicated service.”

Lindsay Williams, a sophomore, said after the Mass that she has “always been amazed at what people will do to sacrifice for other people that they do not even know, people who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.”

The Mass ended with a reception for fire fighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel in Coleman-Morse.