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Blue Mass honors servicemen and women

| Thursday, October 9, 2014

Veterans, servicemen and women, Notre Dame students and community residents gathered at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Thursday for the 14th Annual Blue Mass to honor police officers, firefighters, first responders and all those who serve to protect others.

University President Fr. John Jenkins presided at the Mass, at which Fr. Charles Kohlerman, superior of Our Lady of Fatima House delivered the homily, and Robert Tracy, chief of the Chicago Police Crime Control Strategy Unit, offered closing remarks.

The Blue Mass is “a time to honor police, fire[fighters], EMS, rescue workers and their families … to pray for those we have lost and to pray for strength for all those who serve,” Phil Johnson, Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) chief, said.

“I hope the men and women in public safety recognize the great outpouring of support and prayer from the community and the gratitude that our community has for all those who make sacrifices,” Johnson said.

The first Blue Mass was held one month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to remember all those servicemen and women who lost their lives that day, Johnson said. Since then, the mass has become an annual tradition in the Notre Dame community.

“We continue that tradition each year to remember police and firefighters and EMS workers, those men and women who really dedicate themselves and make sacrifices,” Johnson said. “While most people are running away from bad things that happen, the men and women in blue are running toward the emergency and are there to restore peace and order.”

Kohlerman’s homily focused on the deep sense of compassion that servicemen and women have for the community and emphasized the importance of family.

“You are members of larger families — families of firefighters and police officers who have deep concern for each other and those you serve. … We raise you up and ask almighty God to look after you,” he said, addressing all active and retired public service officers in attendance. In concluding the homily, he reminded all those in attendance of the importance to “love one another.”

In the closing remarks of the mass, Tracy recounted his experience as an NYPD officer on the day that the attacks on the Twin Towers occurred.

“I was strengthened by the bravery I witnessed that day,” Tracy said.

Tracy also offered remarks about assistant New Carlisle fire chief Jamie Middlebrook, a St. Joseph’s County firefighter who lost his life Aug. 5 in the line of duty.

“He was a hero, and we honor him for his greatness and his sacrifice he made,” Tracy said.

The spirit of the Blue Mass illuminates a true Notre Dame tradition, Johnson said.

“We are Catholic, and we pray together,” he said. “It is only fitting that we gather in gratitude and come together to give thanks at a Mass.

“That’s what we do at Notre Dame.”

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