At Annual Blue Mass, Hundreds Pray for Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters and First Responders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hundreds of those who serve their community as law enforcement officers, fire fighters and emergency first responders 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 15-21 this year. Officers from a wide range of jurisdictions at the municipal, county and federal levels attend this annual event.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington was the principal celebrant and homilist at this year’s Mass. He was joined by Monsignor Salvatore Criscuolo, pastor of St. Patrick’s, Father Raymond L. Fecteau, pastor of Our Lady of the Visitation in Darnestown, and Monsignor Karl A. Chimiak, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Beltsville – all who serve as chaplains for police departments within the archdiocese.

The cardinal began his homily by referencing the presentation of the colors that preceded the opening procession for the Mass, which included the U.S. flag, along with those of the District of Columbia, the states of Maryland and Virginia as well as the large number of law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and municipal level that were displayed. The cardinal said they provide the community an opportunity to recognize the important work the law enforcement agencies do and to remember those who have given their lives as they carried out their responsibilities in each of those services reflected in its flag.

“We gather to salute law enforcement agencies here in our community and all those represented here, whose responsibilities touch all of us. But we do more than simply salute, recognize and thank all of you. We also pray for those who, from your ranks, gave their lives for all of us, and to offer our consolation to their survivors, spouses, parents, children, friends,” said Cardinal Wuerl. “Recognizing that not every law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency responder or medical personnel returns home at the end of their shift, we pray especially for the fallen and their families.” In the spiritual context, the cardinal continued, it is fitting that this Mass is held during the Easter season when we celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

Cardinal Wuerl concluded his homily by expressing gratitude and prayerful support to those who serve in the law enforcement community and their families. The Mass included the reading of the names of fallen law enforcement officers who were lost in the line of duty. In 2016, a total of 144 law enforcement officers died around the country. Twelve from the Washington metropolitan area and seven from previous years were honored at today’s Mass with their names and agencies read aloud, followed by a solemn playing of “Taps.”

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. According to the According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States, of which about 12 percent are female. A total of 1,512 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the past 10 years. In 2016, there were 143 officer fatalities in the United States.