Blue Mass: A time to pray with and for those who serve

April 5, 2024 at 1:33 p.m.
St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, was filled to near capacity for the annual Blue Mass and luncheon that followed.
St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, was filled to near capacity for the annual Blue Mass and luncheon that followed. (Hal Brown)

By John Spinelli, Correspondent

Law enforcement and first aid personnel from all four counties of the Diocese and beyond gathered April 4 for the 22nd annual Blue Mass to honor those in law enforcement.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2024 Blue Mass

The Blue Mass, which originated in the United States in 1934, has been a Mass of consolation not only for officers, but the family of police. The first city to celebrate it was Washington, D.C., where federal and local officers were honored.

Many of those in attendance wore their police uniforms to the Mass in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. After taking their place in the pews and before the entrance procession, the congregation joined in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” then witnessed the posting of flags.

During the Mass, the names of all those who had died in the last year were read during the Prayer of the Faithful. Following the reception of Holy Communion, an Honor Guard of officers from various municipalities in Monmouth County played a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace” to pay homage to their fallen colleagues.

In his homily, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., told those gathered: “We lift you in prayer, who protect and serve us, to the God who created, protects and, through his Son, the Lord Jesus, protects and serves you. We remember your brothers and sisters who have fallen.

“We have all watched with pain and sadness the assaults made on the women and men who wear the uniform that you wear in recent weeks and months,” he said.

To Protect and Serve

Bishop O’Connell said Jesus should be an example for today’s law enforcement in his status as a “protector.”

“Jesus’ job was to protect and serve us all; nothing would turn him away, not even Crucifixion, not even death,” the Bishop said.

“Believe that with all your heart and remember the Lord Jesus’ words at the home of Lazarus: ‘Whoever believes in me, even if they die, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die,’” he said, quoting from St. John’s Gospel.

“You have a mission, my sisters and brothers. Never lose sight of it. Fulfill it daily, and know that the Lord is watching over,” the Bishop said, then reiterated, “Who protects the protectors? God does. Whether you are Catholic, Christian, or of a different faith entirely, know that God will never leave your side.”

Wide representation

Among those in attendance were U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, who hails from the Trenton Diocese and is a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Whiting; United States Marshal, Juan Mattos, Jr.; Matt Platikin, NJ Attorney General; Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police; Sheriffs James Kostoplis (Burlington County) and Gilbert Wilson (Camden County); Monmouth County Commissioners Thomas Arnone, Susan Kiley, Nick DiRocco, Erik Anderson; Monmouth County Surrogate Maureen Raisch; and Freehold Mayor Anthony Ammiano.

Representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office also attended.

Meaningful Impact

Richard Matlock, a retired sergeant in the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, said he attends multiple Blue Masses that are celebrated across the state.

“I brought my son today. He was off from school, so he could come and watch. Today is about asking for God’s blessings, so our officers choose to do the right thing when on duty,” Matlock said.

“I’ve been retired 10 years, but I still keep active with the police community. The (Blue Mass) tradition means to be here to support some of the widows of the fallen that come every year,” he added. “Being here means showing respect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

At the end of Mass and before heading into the parish hall for the luncheon, Bishop O’Connell gave a special blessing to the motorcycles belonging to the law official personnel, following a flyover by a State Police helicopter. The Bishop got a chuckle when he asked which motorcycle was his.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.


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Law enforcement and first aid personnel from all four counties of the Diocese and beyond gathered April 4 for the 22nd annual Blue Mass to honor those in law enforcement.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2024 Blue Mass

The Blue Mass, which originated in the United States in 1934, has been a Mass of consolation not only for officers, but the family of police. The first city to celebrate it was Washington, D.C., where federal and local officers were honored.

Many of those in attendance wore their police uniforms to the Mass in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. After taking their place in the pews and before the entrance procession, the congregation joined in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” then witnessed the posting of flags.

During the Mass, the names of all those who had died in the last year were read during the Prayer of the Faithful. Following the reception of Holy Communion, an Honor Guard of officers from various municipalities in Monmouth County played a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace” to pay homage to their fallen colleagues.

In his homily, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., told those gathered: “We lift you in prayer, who protect and serve us, to the God who created, protects and, through his Son, the Lord Jesus, protects and serves you. We remember your brothers and sisters who have fallen.

“We have all watched with pain and sadness the assaults made on the women and men who wear the uniform that you wear in recent weeks and months,” he said.

To Protect and Serve

Bishop O’Connell said Jesus should be an example for today’s law enforcement in his status as a “protector.”

“Jesus’ job was to protect and serve us all; nothing would turn him away, not even Crucifixion, not even death,” the Bishop said.

“Believe that with all your heart and remember the Lord Jesus’ words at the home of Lazarus: ‘Whoever believes in me, even if they die, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die,’” he said, quoting from St. John’s Gospel.

“You have a mission, my sisters and brothers. Never lose sight of it. Fulfill it daily, and know that the Lord is watching over,” the Bishop said, then reiterated, “Who protects the protectors? God does. Whether you are Catholic, Christian, or of a different faith entirely, know that God will never leave your side.”

Wide representation

Among those in attendance were U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, who hails from the Trenton Diocese and is a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Whiting; United States Marshal, Juan Mattos, Jr.; Matt Platikin, NJ Attorney General; Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police; Sheriffs James Kostoplis (Burlington County) and Gilbert Wilson (Camden County); Monmouth County Commissioners Thomas Arnone, Susan Kiley, Nick DiRocco, Erik Anderson; Monmouth County Surrogate Maureen Raisch; and Freehold Mayor Anthony Ammiano.

Representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office also attended.

Meaningful Impact

Richard Matlock, a retired sergeant in the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, said he attends multiple Blue Masses that are celebrated across the state.

“I brought my son today. He was off from school, so he could come and watch. Today is about asking for God’s blessings, so our officers choose to do the right thing when on duty,” Matlock said.

“I’ve been retired 10 years, but I still keep active with the police community. The (Blue Mass) tradition means to be here to support some of the widows of the fallen that come every year,” he added. “Being here means showing respect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

At the end of Mass and before heading into the parish hall for the luncheon, Bishop O’Connell gave a special blessing to the motorcycles belonging to the law official personnel, following a flyover by a State Police helicopter. The Bishop got a chuckle when he asked which motorcycle was his.

The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.

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