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Fifth Blue Mass honors emergency workers

Kaitlynn Riely | Friday, October 7, 2005

Notre Dame police, fire and emergency personnel celebrated the annual Blue Mass Thursday in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

The Blue Mass, which earns its name from the predominately blue-colored uniforms of police officers and firefighters, was first held at Notre Dame on Oct. 11, 2001.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Director of Campus Ministry Father Richard Warner proposed to then-University President Father Edward Malloy the idea of a special Mass in memory of the fire fighters and police officers that died as a result of the terrorist attacks.

The memorial Mass, called a “month’s mind,” was held 30 days after the attacks following Catholic tradition. Since 2001, it has been held every October.

Notre Dame Security/Police (NDSP) assistant director Phil Johnson served as a lector and delivered an introduction about the increased respect given to those in uniform since the 2001 attacks.

“This was an event that made us more mindful of those many who serve and make risks every day,” Johnson said.

John Antonucci, the operations chief of the University’s fire department, also served as a lector. Although the first three Blue Masses were held primarily in remembrance of the victims of Sept. 11, Antonucci said the Mass has developed to demonstrate the gratitude of the community for law enforcement and emergency workers.

“Now as we move away from the event, we move the focus of the event to being a celebration of life and to honor those who protect us every day,” Antonucci said.

NDSP, the University Fire Department and South Bend fire fighting and police departments attended the Mass, as well as some police officers and fire fighters from around the country.

University President Father John Jenkins presided at the Mass, which he called a “significant ND tradition.” He welcomed the opportunity to “honor and appreciate and thank police officers, fire fighters, and emergency personnel in our community.”

In his homily, Warner honored the members of the police and fire departments and emergency personnel who “place the common good above all.”

Warner called those in uniform “men and women of the beatitudes.” He paid special tribute to the families of the men and women in uniform and their unique sacrifice.

Warner asked Mass attendees to remember especially the victims of terrorism, members of the armed forces and all those who have died in the course of duty.

The Blue Mass tradition closely resembles the longstanding Catholic tradition of the Red Mass, a special service for lawyers, judges and politicians that is held at the beginning of the judicial year. Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, D.C. celebrated a Red Mass with the Supreme Court justices.

Notre Dame celebrated its own Red Mass Oct. 2 with lawyers and judges from surrounding communities.