Naples | In thanks for their service and commitment to the safety of the community, a Blue Mass for law enforcement and first responders was celebrated Jan. 26, at St. Agnes Parish in Naples.
Priests from across Collier County concelebrated with the homily by Father Michael Vannicola, pastor of St. Ann Parish.
Among those attending were active duty and retired law enforcement officers and first responders from the local community. Some attendees wore uniforms, while retired members donned the patches or insignias of their past agencies.
Father Bob Kantor, pastor of St. Agnes, welcomed everyone noting the Mass’ intention was to honor, to pray for, and to recognize the sacrifice of those who, while in the call of duty, risked their own lives—even sacrificing time away from their families so they can serve and protect their communities.
Father Vannicola, who had been the chaplain for the Naples Police Department for several years, also thanked the first responders, adding the outward expression of gratitude is heard less in recent times. He spoke about his four uncles who served as law enforcement officers and did their duty with compassion and without fanfare. Father Vannicola had learned first-hand what the families at home went through when they were doing their jobs in the community.
“I was just doing my job,” is the most common expression Father Vannicola hears from officers.
“Simple, profound and sincere. The job you have all done and continue to do is of incredible importance,” Father Vannicola. “It is more than a job; it is a role in the community. It’s a vocation. … You help to create a peaceful and verdant society in which everyone can do the work that must be done for the Gospel. You help to create a world, a community, a society where people can share their true talents and gifts.”
At the end of the Mass, each active and retired first responder was presented with a blessed St. Christopher medal, a symbol of safety. In support of the law enforcement and first responders, the Knights of Columbus Color Corps was present, as were members of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle club.