Deacon Jeffrey Lewis, chaplain of the Gardiner Fire Department and a former EMS provider and firefighter, participated in the annual Blue Mass. Submitted photo

BANGOR — Bishop Robert Deeley celebrated the annual Blue Mass Sept. 17 at St. John Church.

The Mass is an opportunity to show gratitude towards and to pray for those who work in public safety, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and game wardens, all of whom were represented at the ceremony.

The Blue Mass began to be celebrated in the Diocese of Portland after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. It was established to honor the first responders who, as the bishop said, “brought hope and good to a dark day.” Now, 22 years later, the Blue Mass not only pays tribute to that heroism but honors all those in public safety who serve our communities every day, according to a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

The bishop noted that while Sept. 11 was a unifying time for the country, with more people responding to the call to military or public service, the COVID-19 pandemic has had the opposite effect, leaving many departments short-staffed. With that added challenge, the bishop said it is especially important to show appreciation for those who serve our communities.

Representatives of different public safety agencies participated in the Mass by sharing the readings and bringing up the offertory gifts. They included Amy McCrea, the Bangor Police Department’s victim assistance coordinator; Bangor Police Officer Matthew Leffel; Julia Horst of the Maine Warden Service; Bangor Deputy Police Chief David Bushey; and Sgt. Taylor Dube of the Maine State Police. In addition, Deacon Jeffrey Lewis, chaplain for the Gardiner Fire Department and a former EMS provider and firefighter, served at the Mass.

 The Blue Mass was last celebrated in Bangor in 2017. It has also been celebrated in Portland, Lewiston and Caribou.

 The Mass drew first responders from a wide area. The blue, red, and tan uniforms of police officers, firefighters, game wardens, and sheriff’s department officers could be seen throughout the congregation.

 Also attending were several dignitaries, including U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and state Sen. Joseph Baldacci.

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