LEWISTON — Hundreds of police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel and parishioners attended the annual Blue Mass honoring first responders on Sunday at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

The Blue Mass tradition was revived in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland after the terror attacks Sept. 11, 2001, according to the church. The Blue Mass is held to pause and remember those who serve and to give them thanks, according to Bishop Robert P. Deeley.

Deeley praised members of the public safety community for the work they do, saying their service is the way God calls on people to care for one another.

Many of the participants in Sunday’s ceremony are connected to public safety, including Deacon Jeffrey Lewis, a chaplain for the Gardiner Fire Department.

Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson was one of the gift bearers, and representatives from the Lewiston Police Department, Auburn Fire Department, Maine State Police and Portland Police Department comprised an honor guard that posted and retired the colors.

The Maine State Police Pipe and Drum unit performed outside before and after the Mass.

Along with basilica parishioners, others attending included U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, Maine Public Safety Commissioner John Morris, state senators and representatives, city councilors and area mayors.

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