Prayers to guard and protect first responders

Anne Marie Amacher
Members of the Davenport Fire Department raise a flag in front of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Davenport before the Blue Mass May 14.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Black Hawk Pipe & Drums of the Quad Cities played music in front of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church as people arrived for the Blue Mass on May 14. Firefighters had attached an American flag to the aerial ladder of a fire truck and raised it up in front of the church for the annual Mass that honors personnel in law enforcement, firefighting, emergency response, corrections and dispatch.

Knights of Columbus members greeted worshippers and an honor guard presented the colors with representatives from the Davenport police and fire departments. Father Andrew Rauenbuehler, parochial vicar of Our Lady of Victory Parish and a former EMT, presided at the Mass. Concelebrants were Father Bruce DeRammelaere, St. Paul the Apostle’s pastor, and Father Chris Young, parochial vicar of Holy Family and St. Alphonsus parishes in Davenport. Assisting were Deacons Ryan Burchett and Bob Shaw.

“Thank you, and thank God for your service,” Father Rauenbuehler said to the first responders. During his homily, he talked about love of others before oneself, love after rejection or being misunderstood, and the willingness to lay down one’s life for another person. “This love is shown through Jesus Christ,” he said. “He sought out people on the margins. His preference was to be with the poor. He went wherever and whenever he was called — even if rejected.”


Jesus’ way leads to the path of freedom and peace, he said. “A love that sacrifices.” Citing John’s Gospel, Chapter 15, he said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” “Love one another as I have loved you.” Just as Jesus did and said, first responders lay down their lives in a number of ways. “We give thanks to you for putting the public before you and at times putting your lives at risk,” Father Rauenbuehler said.

Before the concluding rites, Father Rauenbuehler blessed the first responders. “We Catholics can pray for you. Through the Eucharist, in thanksgiving, we remember the self-sacrifice of Jesus. We pray for you (first responders) to give you resolve and strength to guard and protect us.”

Lt. Jason Smith of the Davenport Police Department and a member of the Knights of Columbus, said, “I am incredibly proud of my parish for hosting this Mass and recognizing first responders. It was an amazing and beautiful liturgy.”

He believes the Blue Mass is important to celebrate and to recognize God’s presence in the ministry of first responders. A reception followed in Denning Hall with food from Mission BBQ, which “proudly serves those who serve.” Scouts BSA Troop 20 served refreshments and helped at the reception. 

Mark Gassen, Grand Knight of Council 15725 at St. Paul the Apostle, felt the Mass “went fantastic. There were a few more ‘uniforms’ this year. The real key to how it went is talking to the first responders and attendees after the Mass. You see smiles and hear THANK YOUs from all.  The first responders appreciate the event and the community appreciates the first responders.”

The Knights of Columbus host the Mass “so the community has a chance to show their appreciation for what these men and women do for us.  And to do this in the presence of God truly shows this.  We believe having an event like this also lets the community see that these are also moms and dads, brothers and sisters, etc.  Both young and experienced in their profession and skill.  Willing to ‘put it on the line’ for us when called upon,” Gassen added.

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