by Marc and Julie Anderson
TOPEKA — An honor. A privilege.
That’s what Topeka Chief of Police Bill Cochran, who has been with the department for more than 30 years, said of his attendance at the fifth annual Blue Mass celebrated on Sept. 30 by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at Assumption Church, one of two churches utilized by Mater Dei Parish, Topeka.
The Blue Mass — so named for the color often worn by police and firefighters — was offered “for all who serve,” but in a special way for those who have died. Father John Pilcher, pastor of Mater Dei Parish, concelebrated the Mass, assisted by Deacon Chris Seago, of Mater Dei.
The Mass was sponsored by Knights of Columbus Council 8059 of Mater Dei.
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann said, “It’s important that we pause to give thanks to those who serve our community” and added that it was “a small gesture to all of you who give your lives in service.”
Just one day prior, the feast of the archangels — Sts. Michael, Raphael and Gabriel — was celebrated, he said.
“Michael is a special patron for those in law enforcement, those in the military,” he said. “Michael’s known as being a great warrior angel for the kingdom of heaven.
“And in this [role] he’s an example for all those who are called to protect — protect others, protect our culture and our society.”
Later, the archbishop said, “We pray for you today because the professions you’ve chosen are not easy ones.”
Those serving as first responders — whether as law enforcement, fire or other emergency personnel — are in professions, the archbishop said, with “a great deal of risk and stress associated with them.”
“And so, we pray for you today that you know the Lord is with you. And we pray that, just as you protect us, the Lord will protect you, that he will send all his angels to watch over you and that he will give you help and strength,” he added.
The archbishop also prayed that the first responders be blessed with “calm and wisdom” — but also joy and encouragement as they serve the Topeka community in times of suffering and adversity.
Psychologists say, said the archbishop, that one of the keys to finding happiness is having meaningful work.“I hope that as you reflect on your profession that’s one thing that gives you satisfaction,” he said, “that what you do is important and that it does, indeed, make a difference in our communities and in our . . . society.”