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Oct. 9, 2019

By Jessica Hargrave
Contributing writerBlue Mass

OGDENSBURG – The sound of bagpipes and various law enforcement uniforms filled St. Mary’s Cathedral Sept. 29 in celebration of the Blue Mass.

Local police officers, sheriff’s departments, state troopers, emergency personnel, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Border Patrol, Department of Environmental Conservation officers, corrections officers, and their families packed the pews for the Mass, celebrated by Bishop Terry R. LaValley. Members of the Canadian Royal mounted police were also in attendance.

A multijurisdictional honor guard posted and retired the colors before and after the Mass. A memorial wreath was presented in remembrance of all who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The Mass is held not only to thank those officials who are committed to keeping communities safe, but also to thank God for their service.

“Women and men in blue, you know that each of our vocations is to serve others, as did the Lord Himself," said Bishop LaValley. “Your service calls for courage, patience, humility, and self-sacrifice. You have the eyes to see and the heart to embrace the dignity of every human person whom you encounter: friend and stranger."

The bishop reminded the law enforcement officials that Jesus cares for each of us and asks us to do the same for each other.

“Our law enforcement officers, corrections officers, first responders and firefighters offer selfless service for our protection, care for those injured, instilling hope to those among us who feel abandoned, unwanted,” Bishop LaValley said.

Many of the Mass’ participants are also connected to the public safety community, including Father ChristopheBlue Massr C. Carrara, who is currently the chaplain for St. Lawrence and Jefferson Counties Sheriff’s Office and the FBI in Albany.

Chief Adam Love of the Massena Police Department and Captain Harold Barber of New York State’s Department of Environment Conservation served as readers.

Deacon Ronny Gingerich, chaplain for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, proclaimed the Gospel, while New York State Trooper Gabriel Ward and his family served as gift bearers.

The assembly was a mix of members of the public safety community, many in uniform, and civilian men, women and children, who attended in order to share their own gratitude.

Officer Mike Sherry with the St. Lawrence County Environmental Conservation Department said the Blue Mass gives him hope.

“It helps my faith that the community is behind us, that our church is behind us and God is behind us,” he said.Blue Mass
Officer Larry Blakemore, Customs and Border protection out of Ogdensburg, said the celebration brings everyone together.

“We are here in unison as part of the community,” he said. “The mass brings us all together to voice our stance in serving our communities.”

The Blue Mass refers to the blue uniforms typically worn by law enforcement and other first responders. The first of its kind was celebrated in September 1934 at St. Patrick’s Church in Washington, D.C. This was the fourth Blue Mass held within the Diocese of Ogdensburg. The mass has also been held in Plattsburgh, Watertown and Malone.

Bishop LaValley concluded his homily telling our North Country heroes, “You have our trust, our continuing gratitude, and our promise of prayers. Thank you. May God be praised…forever may God be praised!”

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