HARTFORD – "Our hearts are filled with deep gratitude, appreciation, respect and admiration" for all the men and women who make a difference in our lives, said Archbishop Henry J. Mansell as he warmly welcomed police, fire and other safety personnel to the Cathedral of St. Joseph May 5 for the fifth annual archdiocesan Blue Mass.
Entering the cathedral under the arch of two ladder trucks supporting a large American flag, people came to honor and recognize emergency personnel from throughout the archdiocese for their dedicated service, and to remember those who have given their lives in service to their communities. (Click here to see photo gallery.)
During his homily, Archbishop Mansell recalled the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the bombings at the Boston Marathon as examples of the heroic courage and bravery of emergency personnel.
He also recognized the memory of 16 police, fire and other safety personnel who died this past year; and presented a commemorative memorial candle to the Easton Fire Department in memory of Lt. Russell Neary who died in the line of duty on Oct. 29, 2012, while responding to Hurricane Sandy.
Before the Mass, the archbishop stood at the open doors of the cathedral to greet a solemn procession of honor guards from the Connecticut State Police, Hartford Police Department, Connecticut Statewide Fire Honor Guard, Connecticut Department of Correction and representatives of the Easton Fire Department, as well as honor guards from various communities.
The Blue Mass also featured bagpipers from the Police Pipe and Drum of Waterbury and the Connecticut State Police Pipe and Drum.
The Blue Mass, which dates back to 1934 with its first gathering in Washington, D.C., is so-named because of the predominantly blue-colored uniforms of police officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel. Growing in popularity throughout the U.S. since the terror attack on the World Trade Center, the Blue Mass provides an opportunity for communities to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty as well as those currently serving.