Upstate New York Church Honors Service Workers, 9/11 Victims

HNP Communications Around the Province

YULAN, N.Y. — St. Anthony of Padua Church here recently held its seventh annual “Blue Mass” to honor the victims of Sept. 11, 2001, and servicemen and women who have died in the line of duty.

Named for those in blue uniform, the Mass is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, according to Anthony Moore, OFM, pastor. The small church was filled to capacity for the Mass on Sept. 13. The tradition was started by Evan Greco, OFM, during his  1993 to 2002 term as pastor, Anthony said.

Military service men and women, firefighters, law enforcement officials, and emergency responders processed into church, as the congregation sang a patriotic hymn, Anthony said. During the recessional, he added, uniformed service personnel lined up on either side of the aisle as the congregation walked out of the church to the tune of “Taps” played on a bagpipe.

“The Knights of Columbus usually have beautiful red, white-and blue flowers in the sanctuary, and the uniformed services occupy the front pews,” said Anthony. Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, has been the celebrant for the last several years.

This year, John’s homily emphasized the dignity of all, and how public servants fight to preserve that dignity, according to Anthony. After Holy Communion, a local layman is usually invited to add a few thoughts, Anthony said. This year, a retired Marine from Yulan who now works for the New York governor’s office was selected.

Following Mass, the congregation was invited to dinner in the parish center, with food provided by several local restaurants.

“Needless to say,” said Anthony, “many of the attendees were not Catholic. But Catholic or not, all appreciate this annual Mass. It does a great deal to bring about a healthy ecumenical spirit, as well as sound patriotism.”