The Sarasota County Fire Department Honor Guard and the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Knights Color Corps stand during a cermony honoring fallen first responders at the conclusion of a 'Blue Mass' Sept. 8 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice.

Blue Mass honors first responders

VENICE | For the eighth consecutive year, the Knights of Columbus Our Lady of Lourdes Council 9924 organized a Mass with the intention of honoring all active, retired and deceased first responders. The Mass also served as a commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Blue Mass Sept. 9, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, noting that first responders, no matter what their position, they are courageous in the face danger to care for others.

“The Blue Mass is for all of us who are not first responders a way for us to express our gratitude to those who put themselves in harm’s way,” Bishop Dewane said. “They do it in response to their call, or vocation in life, as the work they do, but more profoundly they do it many ways to protect us.”

First responders require courage in every moment of every day, as dedicated men and women who stand ready to come to the aide of all in society, the Bishop added. They stand ready to serve and place their life on the line for the common good of our country.

“You do this so that we as citizens can live in freedom and security,” the Bishop continued. “We ask for the guidance of God to keep all first responders safe and give them the courage to go forward.”
Our Lady of Lourdes Pastor Janusz “Jay” Jancarz said the Mass serves as a public thank you to the first responders and is also a time to remember those who sacrificed their lives to save others during the 2001 terror attacks.

Al Adam, of the Knight of Columbus Council 9924, helped organize the Mass and said enthusiasm and participation in the Blue Mass by the Knights and the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes has grown each year.

Adam also presided over the concluding ceremony, during which the Sarasota County Fire Department Honor Guard and a Fourth Degree Knights Color Corps came forward as the names of law enforcement and fire personnel who died in the line of duty within Sarasota County were read aloud. As each name was spoken, a bell tolled in what is known as the “Last Alarm.”

A bell was also tolled for all first responders who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy, and finally for Knight Bill Madden who was one of the events original organizers and passed away in the past year.

Among first responders participating in uniform were representatives from the Florida Highway Patrol, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Venice Police Department, Venice Fire Department as well as Sarasota K-9 Search and Rescue. Also recognized during the ceremony were members of the City of Venice government, and all of the Knights and their wives.