|September 9, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 15 • Oakland, CA|
| Catholics to show appreciation
for public safety workers
On the Feast of the Guardian Angels, the Diocese of Oakland will thank and ask God to bless the "guardian angels" among us — the women and men who serve in police, fire and emergency response agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ — who also serves as a chaplain in the Naval Reserve — will celebrate the Blue Mass at 10 a.m. Oct. 2 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.
The purpose of the Blue Mass is "to ask for God's blessing" on the law enforcement, fire suppression and emergency responders, and "recognize the contribution they've made in service," said Father Jayson Landeza, parochial vicar of St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon, and chaplain for the U.S. Department of Justice's Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms local division. For many years, Father Landeza served as chaplain to the Oakland Police and Fire departments.
The public is invited to attend the Mass, which is expected to draw representatives from federal, state, county and city agencies. Catholic chaplains have been invited to concelebrate; non-Catholic chaplains have been invited to participate.
While an annual Blue Mass has been celebrated in the diocese for several years, this is the first time it will be celebrated at the cathedral. For the last several years, it has been celebrated at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church.
Father Robert Rien, parochial administrator of St. Ignatius, serves as the chaplain of the Antioch and Martinez police departments, and of the East Bay Regional Parks District.
The Blue Mass, he said, is celebrated in many cathedrals across the United States. "It includes rituals and traditions that are part of both police and fire service," he said. Those rituals include the wearing of Class A uniforms by the participants, the bringing in of the American flag and the singing of the national anthem, as well as a final blessing for all first-responders.
"They will be a part of the service," said Father Rien, with first responders handling the readings and intercessions, as well as bringing the gifts to the altar.
The prayers are not just for the Catholic first-responders, said Father Rien, but for all of them, "regardless of their denomination."
The Knights of Columbus, he said, have been major supporters of the Blue Mass throughout the country, Father Rien said. "Since the events of 9/11," he said, "they have brought back the celebration of the Blue Mass."
At the Oct. 2 Mass, Knights from throughout the Oakland diocese will serve as greeters, ushers and color guard.
The Blue Mass, Father Rien said, offers the Catholic community the opportunity to show its appreciation for the work of police, fire and emergency responders. "They don't receive much gratitude from the community," said Father Rien. "All of them put their life on the line." Much like guardian angels, he said, "we expect them to be there and do their job."
Lunch will be provided after Mass for active-duty public safety personnel and spouses; RSVP is required for lunch. RSVP to Father Landeza at ATFchaplain@aol.com by Sept. 15.
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