Interim Oakland Chief Sean Whent, right foreground, was joined at the Mass by 200 police officers and the families of the four slain officers.
Photos by josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice
Mass remembers sacrifice
of slain Oakland police officers
Father Jayson Landeza gives communion.
After the Mass, Bishop Barber prayed for law enforcement officers' protection.
"Heroes live forever," Father Jayson Landeza told those who came to the Cathedral of Christ the Light on March 21 to remember the four police officers killed on the department's darkest day five years ago.
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, celebrated a Memorial Mass for Sgts. Mark Dunakin, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai and Officer John Hege, four Oakland police officers who were killed in the line of duty March 21, 2009. Bishop Emeritus John Cummins concelebrated the Mass, along with Father Landeza, who has served as chaplain to the Oakland Police Department.
"Many of us remember where we were on 3/21 and this is an opportunity to remember these officers in our daily lives and to connect with one another about the pain of that day," Father Landeza told the gathering before the Mass began.
Sgt. Dunakin and Officer Hege were fatally shot by parolee Lovelle Mixon after officers made a traffic stop on him. Sgts. Romans and Sakai were killed during a SWAT intervention later in the day in which Mixon was fatally shot.
The families of the four slain officers attended the Mass, as did police officers, many in uniform. Interim Chief Sean Whent and Mayor Jean Quan were among the gathering.
"We've never been the same as individuals, as a department, as a city," Father Landeza said in his homily. "We saw Oakland, at some level, at its worst," he said. "We saw Oakland, at some level, at its best," he said, recalling the city's support and affection to the department in the days that followed.
Reminding the gathering that "for every Good Friday, there's an Easter Sunday," Father Landeza said, "May this be a day of spiritual reflection in a place of light, rest, happiness and peace.
"As we say at the Oakland Police Department, heroes live forever," he said. "Rest in peace and live forever," my dear brothers"
At the end of Mass, the bishop asked sworn officers — more than 200 were present — to bow their heads, and he prayed for their protection. He then told the officers, "As a citizen of Oakland, I want to say thank you for being there for us."
It was after last October's Blue Mass that the bishop offered to concelebrate a memorial Mass for the four officers slain in 2009, said Sgt. Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association.
"I'm very pleased we have a bishop like Bishop Barber who recognizes the sacrifice and continuing vocation of police officers," said Sgt. Donelan, who is a parishioner at St. Bonaventure in Concord.
"We remember all fallen Oakland police officers every May," he said, noting that more than 50 have lost their lives in the service of the people of the city.
The black bands many officers wore across their badges served as a reminder that "police work is inherently dangerous," Sgt. Donelan said, noting that less than 48 hours before, a Mendocino County Sheriff's deputy had lost his life in the line of duty.
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