METUCHEN – In front of a sea of blue, Bishop James F. Checchio urged men and women in uniform to be mindful of their limitations and weaknesses.
“Everyone is vulnerable and we all need help,” he said, noting law enforcement officials are not lone rangers. “I urge you to have someone you trust and talk with on a regular basis. No one should face challenges that you have to face without passion and support of others.”
Checchio spoke during the Diocese of Metuchen’s 18th annual Blue Mass on Oct. 17, that was sponsored this year by the Warren Township Police Department under the leadership of Police Chief William E. Keane, at Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi on Elm Avenue.
Each year, the mass is planned by a committee, which includes representation from more than 20 law enforcement agencies, both active and retired law enforcement personnel, a family member of a fallen officer, a former prosecutor, and diocesan staff, according to Tara Smith, associate director of communications for the diocese.
“The Mass has been held at the cathedral every year since 2011 and prior to that, it was held in various parishes throughout the four-county Diocese of Metuchen, which includes Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties,” she said. “The Diocese of Metuchen’s Blue Mass has honored eight fallen officers since its inception in 2002, and every year the names of those officers are read and the bell is tolled in their memory.”
“Today, it seems more important than others to gather on such occasions for prayer and thanks,” Checchio said. “We live in an imperfect world. … Your particular profession knows [all too] well the downside of flawed human nature.”
Checchio said the Blue Mass honors all the men and women who “selflessly and courageously, day after day put their own safety at risk” and pays gratitude to their family and loved ones.
In keeping with tradition from past years, the names of those who have died in the line of duty since the inception of the Blue Mass were read as a bell tolled to commemorate their memory and sacrifice.
The mass included bagpipes and drums, “Taps” and a 21-gun salute. After Mass there was a New Jersey State Police aircraft flyover as Checchio blessed and reviewed the officers outside the cathedral.
Contact Kathy Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org.