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Blue Mass to thank first responders

Members of St. Albert's RCMP detachment attend last year's Blue Sunday Mass at the St. Albert Parish. The service offers special prayers to emergency responders who put their lives on the line daily to keep the public safe.

It’s called the Blue Sunday Mass, but those who attend can certainly expect to see a sea of red serge as well.

The annual event, now celebrating its tenth year in St. Albert, was started in Washington, D.C. as a way of recognizing the dedication and courage of police officers and fire respondents.

“We’ve expanded it to basically be for all first responders such as the military, EMS, correctional officers, RCMP, city police, firefighters in both Edmonton and St. Albert,” explained Gerry Keane, a retired policeman and also a current member of the St. Albert Knights of Columbus Council 4742, the Catholic group that is putting on the mass.

He explained that this special service is being organized because these are the groups of people who face more risks in their occupations.

“These are the people that put their lives on the line on a daily basis for the benefit and betterment of all the public. It’s a recognition of the work that they do.”

Of course, this year there is an extra significance to this tribute, after January’s tragic RCMP shooting. There is never a shortage of examples that demonstrate the value that members of those groups offer to society, he continued.

“It really does, especially with what’s happened throughout Canada from Moncton to Ottawa to the streets in Quebec with the soldiers there and, of course, right here in St. Albert and down in Wetaskiwin as well.”

He has been in discussions with Insp. Kevin Murray who has indicated that he would attend along with numerous members of the St. Albert detachment. Const. David Wynn’s wife and sons were also invited to attend, along with Aux. Const. Derek Bond and his wife.

The event will feature a colour party and an honour guard, with each organization’s flags set up at the front of the church. There will also be a special blessing bestowed upon all emergency responders at the end of the ceremony.

The Blue Sunday Mass starts at 11 a.m. on Sunday at the St. Albert Parish, 7 St. Vital Ave. The event is open to the public.

“It’s a Catholic mass but you don’t have to be Catholic to attend. It’s definitely open to anybody who would like to come,” Keane said.

Uniform dress is optional but those who do wear their uniforms are asked to arrive 15 minutes early to ensure that they are seated with their families.

People are invited to attend a free pancake breakfast afterward.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.