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Bishop Burbidge celebrates annual Blue Mass in Arlington

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First responders are called to keep the community safe. Sometimes that duty can take them away from attending Mass with their loved ones.

Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge prayed for them during the 14th annual Blue Mass he celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More Sept. 16.

The Mass was concelebrated by Father Robert J. Rippy, rector and chaplain of the Arlington County Police Department; Father Paul F. deLadurantaye, diocesan secretary for religious education and sacred liturgy; Father Richard E. Dyer, parochial vicar of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington; Father Bill I. Korpi, parochial vicar of Church of the Nativity in Burke and chaplain to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department; and Father Brendan W. Bartlett, in residence at St. Charles Borromeo.

All police and fire/rescue departments in the diocese were invited to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty and to pray for all public safety officials.

The Blue Mass, a tradition that began in 1934 at St. Patrick Church in Washington, honors and prays for the men and women who protect our cities, counties and nation.

“Tonight, we honor and thank our police officers, firefighters and all members of the first responders community,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Daily they, like all of us, see the consequences when people cling to anger and wrath and refuse to forgive one another. It leads to a lack of reverence for human life and the dignity of each and every person; it leads to violence, including domestic violence and to harsh divisions.

“Regrettably, we see such consequences throughout our country, counties and communities,” Bishop Burbidge said. “Fortunately, our police officers, firefighters and other members of the first responder community offer dedicated and selfless service for the protection of our citizens, compassionate care of those injured; and hopes to a people who can easily begin to think that no one cares. For this, we offer profound thanks.”

Father Korpi said the first responders “know we are praying for them. Whether they are here or not, we are praying for them and they should know that.”

Arlington County Police Sgt. Jose Quiroz said his faith helps him have patience as he works with people taken into custody. His patience and skills in de-escalating individuals earned him the 2016 Crisis Intervention Team Deputy of the Year award.

“They are upset, they are in crisis and I am just there praying for them, and it always works for me,” he said.

Arlington County Police Cpl. Jim Tuomey said his faith allows him to see both the suspects and victims in equal light.

“It allows me not to judge but to rely on the information that I have,” he said. “It is a constant reminder that we all make mistakes from time to time, so I treat the victim and the suspect with a little bit of compassion.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017