By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — During a Blue Mass for first responders May 14 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Father Tony Herold thanked God for protecting people in many ways. First responders have an essential vocation in serving others, the pastor said.
The parish’s Knights of Columbus council sponsored the Blue Mass, the fifth annual one, Fr. Herold noted. He thanked his brother priests for concelebrating: Fathers Paul Appel, Jason Crossen, Jake Greiner, William Kneemiller, Rich Adam, Chris Weber and Chris Young. He also thanked all fire and law enforcement chaplains in attendance. An honor guard presented the colors before Mass.
Fr. Herold connected the blue color of the church’s ceiling with the name of the Mass during his homily. Blue is the color of the uniform that many first responders wear. Typically, when a church ceiling is painted blue, it represents the color of heaven, he noted. “It is no coincidence that you wear blue.”
During times of distress, chaos, hatred and a need for peace “there is a need for a touch of heaven.” When first responders arrive, they “bring a bit of heaven to the situation that is not so heavenly.”
He said first responders heed a call to their vocation. “It takes a special calling to answer this vocation. … You are willing to do anything to bring peace. You are willing to give your life. You go into the unknown. You risk your lives so we can live in a sense of peace. Your task, your work, is a holy work. You bring a taste of heaven to the situation.”
Fr. Herold said he saw the work of first responders firsthand by participating in a ride-along recently. He was required to wear a bulletproof vest. The pastor offered prayers for God to protect first responders.
Following Mass, first responders participated in a reception in Denning Hall. They had the opportunity to accept a medal of St. Michael, the patron saint of people who work in dangerous conditions. The medal distribution is part of the St. Michael Project and the medals were blessed by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.