Police, firefighters and other first responders join Archbishop George J. Lucas for the annual Blue Mass Oct. 13 at St. Wenceslaus Church in Omaha. PHOTOS BY MIKE MAY/STAFF

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Blue Mass honors first responders

Area police officers, firefighters and other first responders were prayed for and thanked for their service by Archbishop George J. Lucas during the annual Blue Mass Oct. 13 at St. Wenceslaus Church in Omaha.

The event honors members of fire and law enforcement agencies, including those who have died in the line of duty, as well as other first responders. 

In his homily, Archbishop Lucas thanked those in attendance for their service. “We want you to know that we don’t take you for granted,” he said. “We’re grateful and say thanks to God for you and with you today.”

Referring to the Mass’ Gospel reading from Luke, in which Jesus’ disciples argue over who would be greatest in the kingdom of God, the archbishop said Jesus reminds us that “we are most like God and most fully the people that God has created us to be, in his own divine image, when we’re ready to be of service to others.”

“We know that God, who is all powerful, has looked on us in our weakness and our sinfulness and our need and sees how needy and vulnerable we are,” he said. “God has not turned his back on us. He’s given us the gift of his only Son. And Jesus came … to serve us, to lay down his life for us.

“And right at the center of our Christian faith is this truth that the Son of God did come, not to be served or get things for himself, but to give his life … so that you and I could have life,” the archbishop said.

“So, we know that those who are our first responders and others who serve us in the community, might be ready on a given day to lay down their life. We pray that that’s not necessary,” he said.

“But we know that they’re ready to do what they can, always to the point of sacrifice, to be of service to others.” 

The archbishop encouraged everyone in the nearly full church, including St. Wenceslaus School students and others, to be alert for opportunities to also be of service to those in need in whatever their roles in life may be.

During the Mass, students presented a flower in memory of each police officer and firefighter who has died in the line of duty as their names were read aloud.

Outside the church following the Mass, Archbishop Lucas also led students in a prayer for first responders and blessed emergency vehicles parked there.

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.

Scroll down for more photos from the Blue Mass

An honor guard of Omaha police officers and firefighters process into St. Wenceslaus Church before the annual Mass.

Omaha fire, police and city officials stand for the opening prayers.

During his homily, Archbishop Lucas thanks police, firefighters and other emergency responders for their service.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer reads the names of police officers who have died in the line of duty as St. Wenceslaus students bring to the sanctuary a flower representing each officer.

Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen reads the names of firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

Archbishop Lucas is pictured with, from left, Fire Chief Dan Olsen, Mayor Jean Stothert and Police Chief Todd Schmaderer following the Mass.

Archbishop Lucas walks among police and fire emergency vehicles to bless them following the Mass.