Annual Blue Mass honors servicemen and women
Maddy Del Medico | Friday, October 2, 2015
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart was filled with firefighters, police officers, emergency medical personnel and many other servicemen and women and their families on Thursday for the 15th Annual Blue Mass, an event to honor the women and men who dedicate their lives to service.
Basilica rector Fr. Peter Rocca presided over the mass, and Fr. James Bracke gave the homily. Steve Chikerotis, a recently retired deputy district chief of the Chicago Fire Department, offered the final remarks.
According to the Notre Dame Fire Department website, the Blue Mass began one month after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as an annual event to honor all servicemen and women.
“It’s a wonderful way to remember those who have gone before us … and also [to say] thank you to all of you who protect and serve us,” Rocca said. “We can never say thank you enough.”
In his homily to the congregation, Bracke said servicemen and women give unfailing aid and effort to their community.
“Who is my neighbor?” Bracke asked in his homily. “[The servicemen and women] teach us how to be a neighbor. They go without question, … they serve, they mend, they bring healing.”
Following the homily, Jim Hassig, a captain of the Notre Dame Security Police, asked the congregation to remember the firefighters, police officers and rescue workers who have lost their lives over the past year, as well as the servicemen and women that gave their lives on 9/11.
Rocca said the Mass also honored St. Florian, the patron saint of fire brigades, and St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of the military and police. He said the Church prays to these saints to grant protection to the gathered servicemen and women.
Giving the closing remarks, Chikerotis said the event itself means a great deal to him, and that he was honored to be there. He said it is important to “never forget” the men and women who have died in service to their community.
Chikerotis also said he remembers many heroes from the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including Todd Beamer from United Airlines Flight 93 and the hundreds of firefighters and emergency medical personnel that rushed to the site where it crashed to assist in rescue efforts.
Looking back on the tragedy, Chikerotis said it prompted a return of patriotism to the U.S.
“People were good neighbors. People looked out for each other,” he said.
The way that people view servicemen and women has changed for the better, Chikerotis said, and he believes the American people appreciate the work that firefighters, police officers and emergency responders do every day.
“They give it their all, they may risk their life for total strangers.” Chikerotis said. “It’s a very noble thing to do. That’s why I’m proud to be standing in front of this group in this church.
“Thanks for what you do, thanks for who you are.”