Detroit — Dozens of police officers and public safety officials from Detroit and surrounding suburbs gathered at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on June 11 for a Mass of thanksgiving and memorial for all those who have, and continue, to serve the public good.
Flanked by a Knights of Columbus honor guard, police officers processed with Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron down the nave of the cathedral for a special “Blue Mass” honoring the sacrifice the men and women “in blue” make for the community.
“As the Catholic leader here, I want to repeat my words of welcome to current police officers and those who are retired and their families,” Archbishop Vigneron said during his opening comments. “This is an opportunity to show you respect, honor your service and the commitment you have for our safety.”
The Mass, which took place on Holy Trinity Sunday, featured a presentation of a candle for fallen officers — eight police officers have either been shot or killed in Detroit within the past eight months — with Patrick MacDonald, bagpiper of the Clinton Township Police Department Honor Guard, performing “Amazing Grace.”
“We ask you to deal with much we would rather not face,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “We acknowledge that you have pledged to give what is required, even sometimes your life, to fulfill this mission to defend the public good.”
During his homily, Archbishop Vigneron explained how the Trinity, God being present in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, relates to the work of police officers.
“What God has told us about Himself helps all of us understand the truth about what it means to serve in public safety,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Our Lord Jesus says, ‘There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for a friend.’ In doing that, Jesus proclaimed who He is, who the Father is, who sent His only beloved Son to save us.”
Archbishop Vigneron explained how God’s presence in Jesus shows how much the Father loves mankind.
“When anyone does this, pours out their life for their friends, the community, it gives a glimpse of the mystery of God,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “It’s not meaningless to pour out one’s life for our friends, for the common good. The truth of what you do in part is the truth of what God is.”
The Blue Mass was a significant gesture for Detroit-area police, according to Detroit Police Department Deputy Chief Todd Bettison.
“A Blue Mass like this lifts the morale of the police,” Bettison said. “Often times, we see the worst of the worst. Folks don’t call 911 just to say hello, because things are going well. We see grieving families, we see victims of crimes, victims of accidents. We see horrific things, and often times, people are angry at us.” With the recent rise in violence against police, Bettison said Masses such as this give police a much-needed vote of confidence from the community.
“The Blue Mass is really just a great way to celebrate us, saying, ‘Hey, we’re praying for you,’” Bettison said. “During the start of Mass, when we walked in and the guards (Knights of Columbus) had their swords up to protect us, that shield of cover from the Lord, that’s just inspirational, uplifting, it allows us to function better.”