WILMINGTON — First responders of the Wilmington Diocese came together on Oct. 4 at the diocese’s annual Blue Mass, which honors police, firefighters and others who lay down their lives for the sake of others.
This year’s Blue Mass, which was celebrated at St. Elizabeth Church, coincided with the Feast of St. Francis. The prayer of St. Francis highlights the remarkable work that first responders encounter on a day-to-day basis: “Where there is darkness, light.”
In his homily, Father John Mink reminded those in attendance that St. Francis gave up his privileged life for a life of poverty — as first responders must potentially give up their lives for one of self-sacrifice. In the story of the leper, St. Francis brought light to the darkest of moments. Francis was led by God into the company of the lepers and had pity on them. He sacrificed his own life for he saw the face of Christ in others. Like St. Francis, first responders see the face of Christ in everyone. First responders see everyone as brothers and sisters, and from that the strong self-sacrificing love they possess and put forth in their work each and every day.
Police, firefighters, and others voluntarily put themselves into the darkness to shed some light on a situation, said Father Mink, the New Castle County Police Department chaplain. They sacrifice sleep, health, time with families and, above all else, their lives for the well-being and safety of others.
But what do first responders do all day? “It’s not just a routine traffic stop, a false alarm, or being the first at the scene,” Father Mink said. It is about the faith of first responders. While others sleep, they are up sacrificing their lives for the preservation of ours. First responders protect and serve our community. They are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, to put themselves in harms way, for the better of our community.
Father Mink, a former National Guard chaplain, states that first responders face the darkness everyday from “encountering poor, the forgotten, and to those with mental illnesses.”
This coming together of the annual Blue Mass, according to Edward “Mike” Rush Jr., a former volunteer at the Wilmington Manor Fire Company, “shows us as a diocese that we still have a close relationship with each other.” As we gather as a diocese for events such as these we realize that we are such a tight-knit community, and we should be grateful for those who serve, protect, and keep this community safe, he said.
“We must all keep the peace,” Father Mink said. This is as first responders and the whole Diocese of Wilmington all the same. According to Jasper H. Lakey, who is a member of the Delaware City Fire Company and serves on the advisory committee to the State Fire School Committee, “We need to encourage more young people to volunteer more.” When we come together as a community to volunteer for the police, fire houses and emergency services, we can truly make a difference, Lakey said.