HARTFORD – With a mixture of pageantry and solemnity, the Archdiocese of Hartford celebrated its fourth annual Blue Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on May 6 to recognize police, fire and other safety personnel who keep residents from harm’s way.
As the plaintive hum of bagpipes sounded, a solemn procession of police officers, firefighters and other emergency first responders paraded into the cathedral for the service to remember fallen comrades and honor those who serve.
In his homily, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell captured the sentiments of those gathered by expressing gratitude for the courage of service personnel "who serve our society 24 hours a day, and those who have given their lives."
"They are the protectors of our society … protectors of us," he said, and "they have our admiration and respect.
"The Blue Mass gives us an opportunity to recognize the contributions of our police, fire and other safety personnel," he said. "They remind us of Jesus Christ and all he gave" for humanity, he reflected, as "he loved them to the end."
Honor guards leading the procession included those from the Connecticut Department of Correction, Connecticut State Police, Hartford Fire Department, Hartford Police Department and Torrington Police Department.
"This is a beautiful day that honors all the emergency service personnel," said East Hartford Police Sgt. Peter Vanek, who attended with his department’s honor guard.
Fred Spagnolo, deputy chief of the Waterbury Police Department, spoke along the same lines. "It’s a wonderful celebration hosted by the Archdiocese of Hartford." He said it was more special for him because he was accompanied by his son and wife.
Archbishop Mansell presented memorial candles to the families of Lt. Bruce M. Bachinsky of Waterbury, Detective Andrew F. Faggio of the New Haven Police Department, and New Haven firefighter Robert Dean Watts, who died from injuries incurred in the line of duty.
Concelebrants for the Mass were Msgr. John J. McCarthy, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Hartford; Father David J. Baranowski, director of the Office for Divine Worship; Father Anthony J. Bruno, director of religious services for the Connecticut Department of Correction; Father Louis D. Cremonie, chaplain for the Hartford and Manchester police departments; and Father Ronald A. Ferraro, chaplain for the Waterbury fire and police departments.
Music for the procession was provided by the Police Pipes and Drums of Waterbury and by the Connecticut State Police pipers.
The first Blue Mass was initiated in 1934 by a priest in a Washington, D.C., parish, drawing more than 1,000 police and firemen dressed in blue uniforms.