Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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Cathedral’s annual Blue Mass honors ‘first responders’
Story and photo by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff
(From the Oct. 21, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
City police officers and county deputies provided a color guard for the United States flag as it was positioned in the church. (IR photo)
At noon on Wednesday, Sept. 29, the Feast of Sts. Michael – patron of police officers – Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels, the annual Blue Mass was celebrated at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Spokane.
Msgr. Robert Pearson, a retired priest of the diocese and former chaplain for the FBI’s office in Spokane, presided and preached. Deacon Chalo Martínez assisted.
Those attending this year’s Blue Mass included members of, and those in leadership positions with, Spokane’s Police Department, Fire Department, the Sheriff’s Department, and various emergency response organizations. The familiar, colorfully clad, Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus provided an honor guard. Prior to the beginning of the Mass, a color guard made up of police officers and sheriff’s deputies, in full dress uniform, carrying rifles, escorted the flag of the United States into the cathedral, where the flag was placed in its stand to one side of the sanctuary.
In his homily, Msgr. Pearson recalled that the tradition of the Blue Mass in the United States began on Sept. 29, 1934, in Washington, D.C. On that day, Father Thomas Dade welcomed some 1,100 police and fire fighters dressed in blue uniforms to St. Patrick Church. Today Blue Masses are celebrated in many dioceses on the same day each year.
Father Steve Dublinski, Rector of the Cathedral, recalled that celebration of the Blue Mass began in the Diocese of Spokane just five years ago. For the first three years it was held on Sept. 11, to honor those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At the request of the police, fire, and other local departments, however, this year it was moved to the traditional date on the feast day of the archangels.
“When you think about it,” Father Dublinski said, “the mission of the police, fire fighters, and other service personnel of our city is similar to the mission of the church: to help build a society based on peace and justice. We want to honor and pray for them publicly.
“Just a few years ago, this was brought home for us in a unique way when fire fighters came to put out the fire that was started in the cathedral by an arsonist,” said Father Dublinski. “Because of their efforts our cathedral did not burn to the ground. Of course, in a special way we remember and honor at the Blue Mass police officers and fire fighters who, in the past year, gave their lives in the line of duty.”
Msgr. Pearson recommended to the assembly the virtues of tolerance and understanding. He concluded with a prayer that St. Michael the Archangel might watch over the men and women who serve the community in law enforcement and public safety careers.
“The Blue Mass gives us the opportunity to acknowledge those who serve our community in law enforcement and through emergency services,” said Deacon Martínez. “I think it raises an awareness to not take these men and women for granted. In turn, I believe the officers and emergency personnel appreciate our prayers on their behalf.”