SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Dozens of first responders gathered for a prayer service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Tuesday.
The cathedral held the service, called a Blue Mass, that specifically prays for first responders.
“[The mass] takes its name from the blue uniforms that police and firefighters and public safety officials usually wear,” Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, said. “It’s a series of masses that we typically do in the fall around the feast day of St. Michael, who is the patron saint of police and military.”
Members of the Illinois State Police, the Springfield Fire Firefighters Local 37, the Springfield Police Department, and other public safety officials sat together shoulder to shoulder.
“We just thought it was important to come out today for a mass and just … thank them for praying for us,” Commander Sara Pickford from Springfield Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division, said.
In addition to prayers, first responders also received communion.
Paprocki said the difficulties first responders face on the job is what makes this service important.
“We’re asking God’s blessings upon them,” Paprocki said. “They have very hazardous jobs and they see a lot of terrible things in life. They see crime, they see death, they see suffering.”
The bishop picked a reading for the mass that connected to the experiences first responders have on a daily basis.
“In our reading, we’ll have the story of Job, who faced a great deal of loss in his life, and yet he did not give up his faith,” Paprocki said. “He kept his faith, despite all the difficulties, and that’s what we’re called to do [too], to not to give up our faith, but in the face of terrible things that happen to turn to God and ask for his help and protection.”
Pickford agrees, given the dangers police officers sometimes face while working.
“[A] police officer’s job is dangerous and I think we all appreciate having the extra prayers from people,” Pickford said. “For me personally, that’s what makes it special.”
The cathedral also holds a White Mass to honor doctors and health care workers, and a Red Mass for lawyers, judges, and politicians.