Procession to pass under firetruck ladders for Blue Mass, honoring first responders

Posted Sept. 06, 2013, at 6:41 a.m.
Last modified Sept. 06, 2013, at 8:13 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland will honor law enforcement officials and first responders at the annual Blue Mass at 10 a.m. Sept. 15 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

It is the first of two special services to be held this fall.

This year, the Blue Mass will be preceded by a procession from the fire station on Federal Street to the cathedral on Congress Street.

Hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency personnel, who will be in uniform, are to be recognized for their dedication and self-sacrifice, according to a press release issued by the diocese. As they enter the cathedral, participants will pass under a large American flag, unfurled from two Portland Fire Department ladder trucks.

“The Blue Mass, which has a decades-long history in the Catholic Church, calls for a greater awareness and gratitude for those who serve our state and nation as first responders,” Dave Guthro, communications director for the Diocese of Portland, said in the press release. “The events of 9/11 served as an impetus for the Diocese of Portland to institute the Blue Mass locally.”

It is held in different locations each year. Last year, it was held in Lewiston, but it also has been celebrated in Bangor and Caribou.

Monsignor Andrew Dubois, moderator of the Curia for the diocese, will celebrate the Mass, which bestows blessings upon all who contribute to public health and safety in Maine. In addition, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency personnel who have given their lives in the line of duty will be remembered, Guthro said.

The other special service scheduled this fall is the Red Mass, set for 11 a.m. Oct. 4, at the cathedral. The Mass will be followed by a luncheon at the Portland Country Club in Falmouth. The luncheon guest speaker will be Rabbi David Dalin, a professor at Ave Maria University in Florida and a widely published scholar of American Jewish history and Catholic-Jewish relations.

The name “Red Mass” is derived from the red vestments worn by the celebrants of the Mass. The vestments symbolize the tongues of fire that indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit and recall the traditional bright scarlet robes worn by attending royal judges many centuries ago, according to Malone.

In Washington, D.C., the Red Mass traditionally has been celebrated the week before the U.S. Supreme Court begins its session on the first Monday in October. That Mass has been attended by leading members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, including the president, members of the U.S. Supreme Court, members of the diplomatic corps and other distinguished guests of all religious faiths.

A White Mass to honor those in the medical profession is traditionally held in February.

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