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Bishop Celebrates Blue Mass For Police, Fire And All First-responders

Shown during the Blue Mass are Deacon Tom Goebel, left, Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, master of ceremonies Matt Miller, and concelebrants Father Bernie Lutz and Father Zach Etienne. The Message photo by Tim Lilley

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated the Diocese of Evansville’s Blue Mass on Oct. 11 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville. The tradition of the Blue Mass, which began more than 80 years ago, is to seek the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel and all angelic protectors in praying for those who protect and serve the community.

St. Michael is the patron saint of police, firefighters and paramedics. Bishop Siegel celebrated the Votive Mass of the Holy Angels during this liturgy.

The bishop emphasized that the diocese offered the Blue Mass for all those in public service who strive to keep us safe, especially those who pay the ultimate price by giving their lives in slaw enforcement, firefighting and emergency response.

Benedictine Father Godfrey Mullen, rector of St. Benedict Cathedral, served as cantor for the Mass. Father Zach Etienne, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish in Evansville, and Father Bernie Lutz, retired priest of the diocese, concelebrated Deacon Tom Goebel of Evansville’s Corpus Christi Parish, who also ministers to inmates at the Vanderburgh County Jail, served as Deacon of the Mass. Deacon Dennis Russell of Sts. Mary and John Parish in Evansville also assisted.

Bishop Siegel offered special prayers and blessings for the families of our first-responders, noting how their sacrifices and support play such large roles in the lives of those who serve and protect.

He thanked all police, firefighters and first-responders for their service to the community, not that they often find themselves in harm’s way simply by virtue of doing their jobs. He prayed for God’s blessing and protection on all of them, asking that the Lord give them the wisdom necessary to handle any situation they encounter.

Bishop Siegel noted the Mass’ first reading, from Exodus, which says in part, “See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20).

“May the angels of God surround you and protect you,” Bishop Siegel said.

The following brief history of the Blue Mass is courtesy of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif.

“The first Blue Mass was celebrated on Sept. 29, 1934, at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., by Rev. Thomas Dade, who had founded the Catholic Police and Firemen's Society.  On that day, 1,100 police officers and firemen, dressed in blue uniforms, processed into St. Patrick's to honor the fallen members of their ranks.

“The Blue Mass began to spread to other cities in the northeastern United States from that day on.  Following the events of 9/11, the Blue Mass began to be celebrated in cities from coast to coast to honor the many law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel who gave their lives so that others might live.  It is estimated that 25,000 people were saved on 9/11 as a result of their courage.

“The Blue Mass allows us to remember not only the heroes of 9/11 but also the heroes in our own community, the women and men who put themselves in harm's way daily to serve, protect and defend us.”