WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hundreds of those who serve their community as law enforcement and public safety gathered today in prayerful and grateful remembrance of those who gave their lives in the fulfillment of their duties. The Blue Mass is held each year at St. Patrick Catholic Church in northwest Washington preceding National Police Week, observed May 13-19 this year.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington was the principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass. Monsignor Salvatore Criscuolo, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Washington and chaplain for the Metropolitan Police Department, Father Raymond Fecteau, chaplain for the Montgomery County Police Department, and Monsignor Karl Chimiak, chaplain of the Maryland State Police were concelebrants for the Mass.
Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by saying the Blue Mass is a way to express gratitude to the law enforcement officials and first responders. “Every moment of every day, a legion of dedicated men and women stand ready to come to our aid, even putting themselves in harm’s way so that we might live in freedom and security,” he said. “We come together because we need to say thank you.” Just as in the day’s Gospel, in which Christ gives his peace to the disciples, the cardinal said all gathered, through their work in defending justice, emanate this peace in a world of violence.
The Mass included the reading of the names of fallen law enforcement officers who were lost in the line of duty. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 129 law enforcement officers died around the country in the line of duty in 2017. Eleven from the Washington metropolitan area and 6 from previous years were honored at today’s Mass with their names and agencies read aloud, followed by a solemn playing of “Taps.”
Traditionally, the Blue Mass was celebrated for police officers who would gather each year to pray for their comrades who fell in the line of duty, and would ask for God’s continued blessings for their own safety. The name is derived from the “blue” police uniforms. In the Archdiocese of Washington, the Blue Mass is a tradition that began in 1934 but was not regularly observed until 1994 when it was revived to honor and pray for the men and women who protect our city and nation, which include those who serve as police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, 911 operators and EMS personnel, and federal protective agencies. Officers from a wide range of jurisdictions at the municipal, county and federal levels attend this annual Mass.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 655,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 93 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
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