A special tradition played out this month at St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee with its 8th annual Blue Mass.

Nearly 75 first responders — including police, firefighters and emergency personnel — marched from the Kankakee County Courthouse to the church, led by bagpipers and members of the Knights of Columbus.Blue Mass 2013-1

“People applaud them all the way down,” says Viatorian Associate Marilyn Mulcahy. “It’s wonderful.”

Fr. John Peeters, CSV, pastor of St. Patrick’s, welcomed them to the historic church, where during the Mass police and firefighters served as lectors, Eucharistic ministers and brought up the gifts.

Chief Ron Young addressing AssemblyAt the conclusion, Kankakee Fire Chief Ron Young addressed the assembly before the entire congregation raised their hands in a solemn blessing over those in uniform.

“This is always a standing-room-only crowd at the church,” Fr. Peeters says. “We pray for all of our first responders, our police and fire and emergency personnel — everyone who keeps us safe — especially those who have fallen in the line of duty.”

Similar Blue Masses take place in New York and Washington DC, timed with the anniversary of Sept. 11, but the one led by  Viatorians, at St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee is the only one they know of in the Joliet Diocese.