As we recall that fateful day 17 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, we can’t help but reflect on the horror of those tragic events in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania that claimed the lives of more than 3,000 Americans – men, women and children.

Father Manny Lopez, center, poses for a photo with parishioners who military veterans and local law enforcement officers in Williston, Florida (photo courtesy of Holy Family Catholic Church)

To honor our fallen heroes and patriots who offer their lives daily in the service of public safety – including police officers, firefighters and other first responders – Holy Family Parish in Williston, lead by its pastor Father Manny Lopez celebrated the annual traditional Blue Mass on Tuesday (Sept. 11) with parishioners. The Blue Mass is an opportunity for the local community to show its gratitude to first responders and their families.

The tradition of the Blue Mass dates back to Sept. 29, 1934, when Father Thomas Dade, a pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. started by offering the Mass as part of his duties with the Catholic Police and Fireman’s Society. The Blue Mass often coincides with the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, who serves as the patron saint of police officers and military personnel.

To say we are grateful for the lives of these men and women would be an understatement, but together we unite our prayers of thanksgiving to God under whose paternal love and protection we all share.

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