Archbishop Lucas helps celebrate, honor first responders

Honoring those who often run toward trouble as others are running away.

That was the focus of the annual Blue Mass recognizing and offering prayers for first responders, celebrated this year at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Omaha.

Archbishop George J. Lucas, who presided at the Oct. 5 Mass, thanked those who serve, especially given recent natural disasters and the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Omaha police and firefighters, first responders from other agencies and students from Ss. Peter and Paul School attended the Mass, which was concelebrated by two fire chaplains – retired Father Charles Swanson and Father Frank Jindra, pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul.

During his homily, the archbishop reflected on the Gospel reading, comparing first responders’ service to that of the Good Samaritan.

“Jesus encourages us to think first of the predicament of our neighbor,” he said. “And Pope Francis has encouraged us to think of all our neighbors, not only those who look like us. This is what first responders do for all of us.

“The Good Samaritan helped his neighbor in a personal and practical way. You all give us that example so beautifully,” the archbishop said.

After Mass, David Kirchofer, an Omaha firefighter who planned the event, said he loves the Blue Mass. “The archbishop had a wonderful homily, I’m very pleased and look forward to next year,” he said.

The Blue Mass tradition began in 1934 in Baltimore to honor and pray for police officers. After 9-11, the Mass expanded to include firefighters and other first responders. The first Blue Mass in the archdiocese was celebrated in 2007.

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