|September 18, 2017 • VOL. 55, NO. 16 • Oakland, CA|
Pray for first responders at Blue Mass on Oct. 6
Two fire engines with the American flag suspended between their ladders. A bag piper. A color guard in perfect formation presenting the flag. The pews of the Cathedral of Christ the Light filling with men and women in uniforms representing agencies from across the East Bay; some with their spouses and children; others with their parents.
In addition to an invitation to those who serve, the Blue Mass is also an invitation to those who are served.
Rev. Jayson Landeza serves as pastor of St. Benedict Parish in Oakland, as well as chaplain to the Oakland Police and Fire departments and other agencies.
His work with the first-responder community informs his work in planning the annual Blue Mass, which has been celebrated at the cathedral since 2013.
"As a Catholic community in the East Bay, we acknowledge those men and women who really help to care for our community in some of the most difficult times," Father Landeza said.
It has been a challenging year for the first-responder community, particularly in Oakland, where the Ghost ship warehouse fire claimed the lives of 36 people
Oakland firefighters who were on the scene that night, as Father Landeza was, "continue to struggle about what the experience was for us."
For some, he said, the effect is cumulative, noting "the things Oakland emergency response people see."
"It takes an emotional toll on lots of folks," he said. "The Ghost Ship, for some, accentuated it, for some, it brought other issues to bear. For others, it was just another difficult incident they need to deal with. For me, it's all those, too."
The Blue Mass may offer some solace.
"Often times people wonder where God's presence is in the midst of some of the more difficult situations first responders face," Father Landeza said. "The Blue Mass acknowledges God's care and blessing, and the community's support.
"It acknowledges, at least on some level, our gratitude, and it invites God's blessings for them and their work and their families and friends."
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