Hundreds of law enforcement officers and supporters gathered in St. Patrick Church in downtown Washington, DC, today to remember and pray for officers killed in the line of duty during 2007.
Now in its 14th year, the Annual Blue Mass provides an uplifting prelude to National Police Week 2008, which officially begins May 11.
In his homily, Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl described law enforcement officers as truly being children of God. Remarking on how officers put themselves in harm’s way to bring peace, the Archbishop said that only a person who has "courage, integrity and love can do this."
David Aguilar, Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol; James DiGregory, First Vice President of the DC Fire Fighters Burn Foundation; and Carolyn Pandolfo, FBI Supervisory Special Agent, delivered scripture readings. Later, Sterling Spangler, President of the Washington, DC, Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (DC-COPS), read the names of the 24 fallen officers from DC, Maryland, Virginia and federal agencies who died in the line of duty last year.
Before the mass, honor and color guards from 20 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies processed outside the church under bright blue skies and a large American flag, hung across G Street, NW, by the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. The Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, Firefighters of Washington, DC, provided musical backdrop as the units entered the church.
The Blue Mass continues a tradition that flourished at St. Patrick Church, in a slightly different form, from 1934 to 1975. During those years, police officers would congregate annually to pray for their comrades who had fallen in the line of duty and to ask God’s continued blessing for their own safety. The name of the Mass comes from the blue color of police officers’ uniforms.