Blue Mass offers appreciation, blessing for first responders

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2017 at 6:48 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Albion held a “Blue Mass” for law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, coroners and other first responders this morning.

This is the second straight year the parish and the Knights of Columbus has held the Mass. Some local firefighters and law enforcement officers gather outside the church just before the Mass at 10:30 this morning.

Local first responders gather before the Mass. The Knights of Columbus, led by Grand Knight Greg Dugan, organized the Mass. Dugan, owner Greg’s Barbershop, was critically injured in a motorcycle accident on Aug. 6, 2012.

“The first responders saved my life,” Dugan said today.

He was seriously injured in the accident, breaking both knees, both wrists, separating his pelvis, fracturing his left hip, and lacerating his left leg.

Dugan said the Mass today was a chance for the church to pray for the first responders, including those unable to attend the Mass this morning.

Father Richard Csizmar greets firefighters, including Harry Papponetti at right and Dale Banker, smiling.

“We hear of the courageous fire personnel who put their lives in jeopardy when approaching a blazing inferno. They are concerned about the lives that may be inside the house,” Csizmar said in a homily during the service. “They go about trying to protect the safety of those whose homes are next door. They run to accident scenes, to join others ministering to accident victims. They do so because of the generosity within their hearts. They do not look for glory and recognition—they see the value of the life of another human being, even if unknown.”

Law enforcement officers head into the church for the Mass.

Csizmar said this about police and deputies:

“We admire those who work nights, driving through the village, waiting for that next call. It may be an accident, a shooting, a fight, a person wanting to jump from a bridge. They arrive and are the first to deal with the bleeding. They talk to the person so distraught at the scene. They clean up the mess. They do not seek any reward.”

A blue wreath brought to the service by Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Home symbolized first responders killed in the line of duty, including Bruce Baldwin, Albion Fire Department; Richard Buongiorne, Kendall Fire Department; Lewis Grimes, Albion Fire Department; Matthew Phillips, Albion Fire Department; and David Whittier, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department. Csizmar also acknowledged the loss in the past week of Buffalo police officer Craig Lehner.

The Gates Keystone Club (Police Pipes and Drums) played at the Masseur the second year. The band formed in 1998 to “for the purpose of honoring our fallen brothers and sisters and to participate at official ceremonial events.”

Knights of Columbus members Casimer Pruski, left, and Bob Ballard, right, both past grand knights, get ready for the Mass.

“We ask God to bless all who wear the uniform in service to our community and country,” The Knights said in a message in the church program. “We also pray for a special blessing upon your families, your spouses, children and parents who pray for your safety daily.”

Firefighters from Albion and Barre stand during the Mass this morning.

Stephen Winner, drum major for the Gates Keystone Club, leads the band through the center aisle in a processional at the end of the Mass.

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