By Frank Bonadonna
 
The congregation of St. Paul’s applauds following a blessing by Bishop Burns for military, law enforcement, and fire/rescue personnel at the Blue Mass. (Photos by Matthew S. Brown)

As fall approaches, the time of year arrives for the Juneau Catholic Community to show their gratitude and respect to those who protect and care for our community and our country. The Knights of Columbus host an annual ‘Blue Mass’ to honor active duty and retired law enforcement, fire/rescue, corrections and military personnel. This year, on August 26 in Juneau, the Archbishop Seghers Council #1760 and the Bishop Kenny Council #11757 collaborated to do just that. With the curb outside of St. Paul the Apostle Church choked with law enforcement and fire/rescue vehicles, bagpipes echoing throughout the church and Bishop Burns presiding at the mass, there was not a pew unoccupied by a man or woman in uniform.

Bishop Burns blesses law enforcement, fire/rescue, and search and rescue vehicles and vessels following the Blue Mass.

The Blue Mass has become a wonderful tradition in Juneau and is looked forward to by many in our local public service community. Unlike National Police Week, National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, or Memorial Day—all of which pay respect to law enforcement officers, firefighters and members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country—the Blue Mass is meant to thank our men and women in uniform and remember that it is only with their service that our communities and country are as wonderful and safe as they are. This year, as police officers, firefighters, soldiers and sailors filled the pews, and as the Knights of Columbus saluted the Holy Eucharist, our community gathered with pride to pray with police lieutenants, U.S. Coast Guard Commanders and with our own Father Pat Travers—a U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel—who concelebrated the mass.

Let us never forget that these men and women took an oath to protect us, and they do their duty daily­—in many cases under terrible conditions—and at great potential harm to themselves and their safety. Let us continue to support them in all they do for us.

Active Duty military, law enforcement and fire/rescue personnel with Bishop Burns, Deacon Gary Horton, Deacon Charles Rohrbacher, and the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Honor Guard. (Photo by Matthew S. Brown)