Mass for Public Safety to honor police, fire and first responders for their service, pray for God's protection

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PROVIDENCE — The Diocese of Providence will be offering a special Mass for police officers, firefighters, first responders and their families at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on Sunday, Sept. 30.

Formerly known as the Blue Mass, the Mass for Public Safety is intended to give the faithful the opportunity to thank the state’s public safety personnel for their service and to ask God for their continued well-being and protection.

“The intent is for them to come together, to ask God’s blessing upon them and the work that they do, that they be kept safe so that we can be kept safe and also to affirm them in that task,” said Father Joe Escobar, pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Providence.

Father Escobar, who is also chaplain to the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, said several police and fire departments across the state will be sending personnel and color guards to the Mass, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

“We’re hoping for good attendance this year,” said Father Escobar, who explained that the Mass was changed from a Blue Mass — which is traditionally offered for police officers — to reflect that the service is offered for all uniformed public safety personnel.

Father Robert Marciano, the pastor of St. Kevin and St. Benedict Church in Warwick, will be the main celebrant and homilist at the Mass for Public Safety.

“This Mass is an annual event sponsored by the bishop to offer our prayers for them in the important and dangerous work that they do, but also to offer our thanks to them and their families for the many sacrifices made for us,” said Father Marciano, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel chaplain who also serves as chaplain for the Warwick police and fire departments as well as the Providence Fire Department.

Father Marciano, who has celebrated Blue Masses in Warwick and often responds to calls with the police and fire departments, said he will tell a few stories about “seeing these heroes in action.”

“They’re an impressive bunch,” Father Marciano said. “They’re selfless. They’re focused on their job, they love their impression and they are almost always anonymous in their duties.”

One story Father Marciano said he will recount will be a recent three-alarm fire on a hot summer Sunday afternoon.

“It was 100 degrees in the shade,” Father Marciano said. “The firefighters had their air packs, all their gear on, it was brutal and yet they did their job without regard for themselves. And after they were done, they were on the ground, getting hosed down because their body temperature was through the roof.”

Noting the often dangerous nature of their job, which for the police has been underscored by several recent examples across the country of officers being wounded on duty, Father Marciano spoke of public safety as a vocation.

“For them to run into a burning building, it’s a gift, it’s something God puts in them to save lives,” said Father Marciano, who added that the Mass “is our opportunity to show them our love and respect, our gratitude and to invite them even for just an hour to feel the respect and admiration of the people they serve.”

The Mass for Public Safety Personnel will be held at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30. The uniformed police, fire and first responders will gather outside the cathedral at 9:15 a.m. and participate in the entrance procession.