Friday, October 4, 2019
Marlene Quaroni - Florida Catholic
“Today, we celebrate the upcoming feast day, September 29, of St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of police,” he said. “He is described as the head of the angelic armies. For centuries, Christians have sought his intercession. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.”
These nationwide Masses are called Blue Masses because they honor the men and women in blue, the more frequent color of the uniforms of police and other first responders, the archbishop said. “But regardless of the color of your uniform, we honor all of you and your comrades, for your service and your sacrifice. We thank you, for your commitment to the common good.”
He noted that police officers too often see “the dark side of human nature,” adding, “It’s a thin blue line that separates us from barbarity, a thin blue line that defends our communities so that we remain communities, not moral jungles.”
The archbishop recalled the “more than 30 law enforcement professionals” who died in the line of duty across the U.S. in the past year. “We remember them and their loved ones in this Mass as well.”
Before Mass, police honor guard members placed a wreath in front of a statue of St. Michael the Angel located outside the church. The honor guard members marched in formation carrying the flags of their various departments as they processed into church. Several officers acted as altar servers at the Mass and two brought up the offertory gifts.
After Mass, government officials and police officers presented tokens of their appreciation to Archbishop Wenski and Father Israel Mago, Our Lady of Guadalupe’s pastor. Law enforcement members gave a small statue of St. Michael the Archangel to Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association.
In a speech to those gathered for the Blue Mass, retired Sunny Isles Police Chief Fred Maas talked about what makes a police department work.
“It’s simple,” he said. “Loyalty above and beyond creates success, loyalty through adversity and obedience, loyalty through disappointment. It’s not always about me first.”
Many police officers have sacrificed their lives for others, he said. Maas told the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a priest who gave up his life in place of a soldier while in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
“He was incarcerated with the soldier, who was about to be executed,” Maas said. “St. Maximilian knew the soldier had a family with children, so he offered up his life instead. Those police, fire and first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice are the Maximilian Kolbe’s in our careers.
“It’s often been said that our role, or the role of a priest, teacher or physician is not a career, but a calling,” Maas continued. “Not everyone is selected. Even those who desire it are not always called. And that alone should be enough to remind us to be loyal to that which we strived for, worked so hard for, and dreamed about becoming and did so.”