‘The Very Important Work of Civil Protection’

Bishop Raica Expresses Gratitude to First Responders

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Bishop Raica celebrated the second diocesan Blue Mass at St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church in Huntsville. The Mass is said in honor of law enforcement, fire fighters, and all first responders. The complete text of the bishop’s homily follows herein.

Sisters and brothers, our Blue Mass celebration today honors the mission of law enforcement, fire fighters, and first responders in our communities by surrounding them in prayer and entrusting them to the protection of St. Michael. Today, we pray for the safety and mission of all engaged in the very important work of civil protection in our communities.

Thanks, Father Joy, for your welcome to St. Mary of the Visitation Parish. Warm greetings go to the various branches of first responders here today as well as the wider community who are here to pray for their safety. You are here to support our first responders and to build bridges of solidarity in our local communities so that we can live in peace, harmony, and security.

On behalf of everyone here today, including parishioners from many of our parishes throughout the Huntsville area, my brothers in the clergy, especially those who collaborate with law enforcement, and to the wider faith community in northern Alabama, may I express my own gratitude to you. In the various agencies that you represent through collaboration with other civic realities and your professionalism, you help sustain good public order.

Together, we seek to provide pragmatic solutions to the many issues facing our local communities today, especially among those who may be more disadvantaged. While we see law enforcement spring into action on high profile cases, I also am aware of many hidden acts of charity and professionalism that benefit our citizens which no one sees in the course of your service. We know God sees it. That is enough!

Today, with ever new challenges, we depend on your highly developed skills to provide leadership and protection in ever new ways. No longer can we consider our communities immune to some of the craziness going on out there. We are aware that there is increased chatter that raises worry and concern everywhere. These weren’t present many years ago.

Back in November of the year 2,000, Pope St. John Paul II celebrated the Jubilee of Armed Forces and Police. Representatives of law enforcement and military from around the world were present at the event, some of whom came from opposite sides of civil disputes. It was an amazing event in many ways because, as he noted, “Who better than you, dear … members of the police, young men, and women, can testify to the violence and to the disruptive forces of evil present in the world? You fight against them every day: indeed, you are called to defend the weak, to protect the honest, to foster the peaceful coexistence of peoples. The role of the sentinel, who scans the horizon to avert danger and promote justice and peace everywhere, befits each of you.” ( cf. https://www.vatican.va › content › john-paul-ii › en › homilies › 2000 › documents › hf_jp-ii_hom_2000).

Like them, that call is evident today. Every Christmas we celebrate Christ’s birth as the Prince of Peace. After all, He broke down the dividing wall of hostility and violence and invites us to something more, something greater. The pursuit of the common good is the journeying together as brothers and sisters toward a destiny that Jesus our Savior has prepared. With you, we offer to Him, our resolutions and your daily commitment as peacemakers. I am with you always, Jesus reminds us.

Normally, our Mass is celebrated around the feast of the Archangels, especially recalling the Archangel, St. Michael, the patron of law enforcement and first responders. May St. Michael protect you as you put your life on the line so that true peace may reign. While it is easy to see what is wrong, what is evil, what needs to be fixed in society, what is broken, we must also look beyond to see in the very brokenness of individuals we serve, the very dignity that is still in their hearts – a small voice crying out for attention, a voice searching for an answer to many unanswered questions.

Like the Roman officer who was with our Lord under the cross, when all had abandoned Him, he comes out with telling and insightful words now memorialized for us: “Truly, this is the Son of God!”

As you carry out your important mission in our local communities, I pray that you continue to be promoters of solidarity toward the weakest and most defenseless; to be guardians of the right to life, through the commitment to the safety and integrity of people. After all, each person is loved immensely by God. Each person is His creature and deserves welcome and respect. Through the embrace of our prayer and the grace of this event today, may your spirit be renewed as you dedicate yourselves to your noble profession lived with extra attention, dedication, and generosity.

Once again, I express my gratitude to you for your important work in our community. I also wish to remember those who may have been harmed or lost their lives in the course of their service – they were our brothers and sisters. During this month of October, dedicated to Mary, I entrust you to her motherly protection. I also extend my own blessing to you, those who could not be with us today because they are at protecting us today, and to your dear families. Together may we enjoy a life of tranquility, order, and peace which has its foundation in Christ. May God bless you!

‘The Very Important Work of Civil Protection’ 2