Dominic Marchese of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Winter Springs, lost a childhood friend in the fires that leveled the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, the retired fire lieutenant with the Orange County Fire Department and retired fire chief with the Conway Fire Department has made every effort to honor his late friend and fellow firemen at the Diocese of Orlando’s Annual Blue Mass. Click here to view the video.
“This Mass, along with other things we do to honor our fallen brothers is very important to me,” he said. “They gave so much. It is important to me to honor them.”
Marchese was among the men and women in uniform, who filled the pews of St. James Cathedral to pray for God’s protection and to honor the sacrifices of those lost in the line of duty. About 700 people, including children from several local Catholic schools, gathered for the 13th annual Blue Mass, celebrated by Bishop John Noonan on Sept. 29, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, patron saint of public safety personnel.
The celebration also included opening and closing processions by bagpipers with the Orlando Firefighters Pipes and Drums and Orange County Sheriff’s Office Pipes and Drums and the Knights of Columbus.
Bishop John Noonan thanked the men and women for their service and urged everyone to pray for those who risk their lives for public safety, especially during our troubling times. He likened the service of our first responders not only to St. Michael but also St. Gabriel the Archangel, whose name means “Man of God,” and St. Rafael the Archangel, whose name means, “God heals.”
“You are our angels in our hour of need,” Bishop Noonan said. “You are messengers to the people in distress. You protect and defend and safeguard citizens and their property in moments of utter despair. You are the Archangel Michael of our world. You are angels of hope, like the Archangel Gabriel, calming and reassuring restless minds, hearts and bodies in moments of severe distress.
“You are angels of healing like the Archangel Rafael,” he added. “You are messengers of healing the injured, the broken and the suffering. You, the first responders are filled with God’s grace. God gives you the strength, the courage, and the wisdom to reach out to our brothers and sisters in their difficult times.”
Celebrated in Catholic dioceses throughout the nation, the Blue Mass is a celebration of faith to pray for the dedicated men and women in law enforcement, fire/rescue and public safety. The first Blue Mass was celebrated Sept. 29, 1934, by Father Thomas Dade of the Baltimore Archdiocese, after more than 1,100 police officers and firefighters dressed in blue uniforms marched into St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Washington, D.C.
“Today we come to honor you and pray that God will protect you,” Bishop Noonan said. “We pray for you on your daily work, asking God to be always with you.”