In its 125th jubilee year, historic St. Patrick’s Church continued one of its most sacred traditions last

A color guard leads first responders in procession to St. Patrick’s Church

weekend: the Blue Mass, which honors — and thanks — local police, fire and first responders for their work in protecting the community.

The Mass is steeped in tradition. A bagpiper and formal color guard lead a procession of first responders as they march down Indiana Avenue toward the church.

Kankakee Fire Captain Bryan LaRoche does a reading

Fr. John Peeters, CSV, pastor, welcomes them to the solemn Mass, where police and firefighters serve as lectors, Eucharistic ministers and bring up the gifts.

The liturgy and blessing traditionally open the parish’s Half-Paddy Fest, which follows immediately.

At the conclusion of the Mass, Fr. Peeters always thanks the men and women in attendance for their heroic service to the community.

After Mass, Fr. John Peeters poses with first responders

“We entrust you to the protection and the intercession of Saint Michael, the patron of police, Saint Florian, the patron of firefighters, and Saint Luke, the patron of medical personnel,” he said in a final blessing. “May they guard you and guide you and continue to enable you to be healers and forces for peace and justice in our community.”