In a time of illness and unrest, a staple of support for all those who work to better their communities took place Oct. 2 as it does each year at St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington.
The Blue Mass in the Diocese of Wilmington honors those who serve our communities in the public safety sector — police, fire, EMS, and military. A congregation limited by coronavirus restrictions appeared in person at the church and more joined a livestream on the diocesan YouTube channel.
“It’s a time for us to pray for you and all who work with you to protect us,” Bishop Malooly said at the start of Mass.
Father Michael Murray, OSFS, assistant provincial of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province of the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales and chaplain of the Wilmington Fire Department, said in his homily that the men and women of public protection have a difficult set of challenges.
He said the “Blue Mass” is often celebrated as close as possible to both the Feast of the Archangels, Sept. 29, and of the Guardian Angels, Oct. 2.
“Angels were God’s de facto ambassadors who also assumed the roles of ‘warrior’ and ‘guardian’ when situations and circumstances required it,” Father Murray said.
“As first responders, you continue God’s work through your daily efforts to protect and defend those in danger and to heal and console those in distress. Among other things, your vocations challenge you to be both warriors and guardians, frequently enough at the same time.”
He said police, fire, military and emergency personnel do the work of Jesus.
“Jesus Christ himself has been described by some as a model for first responders,” Father Murray said.
“Like you, Jesus was dedicated to a specific purpose; like you, Jesus committed himself to working for the good of others without counting the cost; like you, Jesus met people as he found them; like you, Jesus experienced many long days and some sleepless nights; like you, Jesus knew that each situation had the potential for putting him in harm’s way; like you, Jesus spent much of his time and energy interacting with some of society’s most vulnerable, desperate and disenfranchised individuals.
“Like you, Jesus continued to be faithful to his purpose in the face of frustrating loss, setback and opposition; like you, the qualities and characteristics that attracted many people to Jesus were the same things that some used to attack Jesus; like you, Jesus recognized the need for teamwork to fulfill his purpose, surrounding himself with a colorful cohort of ordinary people whom he would train and empower with best practices to continue his extraordinary mission; like you, Jesus was one who frequently made the difference between life and death.
Father Norman Carroll, pastor of St. Elizabeth, welcomed the congregation before the start of Mass.
“It’s so great to have the support of our first responders here at St. Elizabeth’s,” Father Carroll said.