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Stanislaus County first responders to gather for prayers

From left, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, Modesto fire Chief Sean Slamon and Modesto police Chief Galen Carroll attend the 12th annual Blue Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015.
From left, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, Modesto fire Chief Sean Slamon and Modesto police Chief Galen Carroll attend the 12th annual Blue Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. Modesto Bee file

An annual rite that sends the county’s first responders into the new year with blessings and gratitude returns this weekend.

The Knights of Columbus of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Modesto again is organizing the Blue Mass, with prayers, speakers and a luncheon Saturday, open to all first responders and the community.

The 14th Blue Mass will be celebrated in honor of police, fire, sheriff, FBI, California Highway Patrol, emergency medical technicians and other emergency personnel across the region. It’s geared to offer thanks to men and women who serve the community as well as to their families.

The interfaith event will be presided over by St. Joseph’s pastor, the Rev. Mark Wagner.

Speakers will include Modesto police Chief Galen Carroll, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson and Modesto fire Chief Sean Slamon, according to Michael Glendon, grand knight of the St. Joseph’s group.

Other priests and deacons also are expected to attend the ecumenical service, Glendon said, adding that “Bishop (Stephen) Blaire of the Stockton Diocese was invited and could surprise us with a visit.”

A procession to open the Mass will begin at the church’s Fr. O’Hare Hall and will proceed through the parking lot and into the church. The traditional blessing of the responder vehicles will take place immediately after the service, with a free lunch to follow back at the hall.

“All are welcome,” Glendon said.

The first Blue Mass was held in St. Patrick's Church in Washington, D.C., in 1934 and has blossomed into a nationwide event with Masses generally held in conjunction with National Police Week in May.

In Modesto, however, the Knights chose January when beginning the tradition here in 2002; there was a one-year lapse in services making this the 14th year it’s been held.

“The Knights of Columbus at St. Joseph’s started our tradition the year after the 9/11 attacks as a way to show our appreciation to the men and women who risk their lives every day,” Glendon said.

The procession begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 1813 Oakdale Road, Modesto.

Pat Clark: 209-578-2312

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