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Blue Mass honors 'guardians of
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placeholder October 23, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA

Albany Police Officer John Torres, right, was accompanied at the Blue Mass by his wife Brenda, and their eldest child, Sophia. They met Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, after Mass.

Blue Mass honors 'guardians of safety and justice'

An American flag, suspended between the ladders of two Oakland Fire trucks flew high over Harrison Street in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Light on a sunny Oct. 6 morning for the Blue Mass, which honors and asks God's blessing on police, firefighters and all first-responders. Oakland motorcycle officers rode onto the Cathedral Plaza. A bagpiper stood at the side at the altar, the music mournful. The Honor Guard of the Pittsburg Police Department presented the flags of the United States and California.

"You move toward the source of danger," Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, told the first-responders, many in uniform, in his homily. "We civilians instinctively run away from the source of danger." As the first-responders move toward the source of danger — whether a shooting, a fire or a car crash — "angels are there to minister to you and protect you," the bishop said.

Two of the motorcycle officers in attendance — Oakland Officers Tim Dolan and Mike Huppert had missed last year's Blue Mass. In the rain on their way to the Blue Mass. They had an accident on Interstate 580 at Seminary Avenue. On this October day, they were among the more than a dozen Oakland officers who parked their motorcycles in a line on the Cathedral Plaza.

At the Mass, Mike Foley, a veteran Alameda County Sheriff's deputy who died in February after being hit by a bus at Santa Rita Jail, was remembered. Remembered, too, were all those who had reached "end of watch."

Also present at Mass were priests who serve as chaplains to first responders, including Very Rev. Jay Matthews, rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Light; Rev. Jayson Landeza of St. Benedict Parish in Oakland; Rev. Larry Young of St. Patrick Parish in Rodeo; and Rev. Helmut Richter, retired pastor of Church of the Good Shepherd in Pittsburg.

Sgt. Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, sees the Mass as a blessing "for us, every day, we're out there working in a challenging environment." A woman who came to the motorcycle officers' pew to thank them, he said. "It means a lot to us."

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