Bishop Robert Deeley will celebrate the annual Blue Mass honoring law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and all in public safety at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, according to a news release from Dave Guthro, communications director, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

Because of the coronavirus, in-person attendance is limited to 50 and has been coordinated with public service agencies. However, all are encouraged to participate in the Mass via live stream at portlanddiocese.org/online-Mass or portlandcatholic.org/online-Mass.

Though some of the traditional elements of the Blue Mass will be modified and adjusted in this time of pandemic, a multi-jurisdictional honor guard has been assembled to post the colors; Portland Police Chief Frank Clark and Portland Fire Chief Keith Gautreau will serve as readers; and representatives from many different public safety agencies at the local, state, and federal level will be in attendance at the Mass.

In addition, the deacons for the Mass will be Deacon Kevin Jacques, who has served as the chaplain for the Biddeford Fire and Police departments and the Saco Fire Department, and Deacon Jeffrey Lewis, who has served as the chaplain for the Gardiner Fire Department and was an EMS provider for more than 38 years.  Lewis has also served as a firefighter.

Blessings will be bestowed upon all who contribute to the public health and safety of Maine, and prayers will be offered for those who have given their lives in the line of duty.

“We gather for the Blue Mass to honor those who serve the community by providing safety and protection in Maine,” said Deeley, according to the release. “These calls to public safety confer an incredible responsibility and, at times, are taken on at a profound personal price which can even include the ultimate sacrifice. We will thank God for this service and remember the brave who have given their lives in the name of duty and honor. The common good is strengthened by the unconditional way in which these first responders accept their responsibility. This, we must never forget.”

The Blue Mass (referring to the blue uniforms that firefighters, law enforcement and other first responders wear) dates back to 1934 and is a venerable tradition in many dioceses. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, served as the impetus for the Diocese of Portland to institute the Blue Mass locally. For more information about the Blue Mass, including its history in Maine, visit portlanddiocese.org/BlueMass.

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