Christ was present in the darkest hour of Ground Zero

BRIDGEPORT– Choosing to do what is good for those around us, even if they don’t always appreciate it, is the definition of love and is the “vocation of every believer,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said at the Diocesan Blue Mass commemorating the 22nd Anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States.

Almost 300 faithful turned out for the yearly Mass honoring Fire, Police and First Responders. During the Mass the bishop asked all to join in praying for their safety and in gratitude for the life-saving work they do in their communities.

“Today on what we traditionally call the Blue Mass, I stand before you to thank you, who every single day in your line of duty and active service are the ministers of love in the world. For that, my brothers and sisters is exactly what you are.”

The bishop con-celebrated the Mass with police and fire chaplains Father Cyrus Bartolome and Fr. Jeffery Couture. He was also assisted by Deacon George Cain and Deacon Rick Lawlor who coordinated the Mass and reception that followed.

“You go on the front line every day as law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical workers, wherever duty calls so that you might lift up your neighbor when that neighbor is in a moment of crisis, or being threatened by someone or is in peril,” the bishop told the many uniform personnel who turned out for the Mass and provided the Color Guard.

The bishop said that first responders choose the good of others, often without regard for their own comfort and safety, and they serve as example to all.

“We need to remember that love is to choose to do what is good for those around us–wife, husband, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, neighbors, and even those who harm us; even when the choice is difficult, even when we may be persecuted by the choice, not appreciated because of what we do, not encouraged for the actions that we choose.”

Reflecting on the Matthew 18: 15-20, (”If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”) the Bishop said that in addition to helping those in need, we also have an obligation to speak out if we see them moving in the wrong direction.

“We do it because we know it is right and it is good for the person for whom we are making the choice.”

The bishop also offered words of encouragement to police, fire and first responders whose service often goes unappreciated.

“Sadly, we live in a world that does not fully understand the nobility of your vocation. But in this church we do because in many ways, my brothers and sisters, you make God’s love real to the people whom you serve, whether they realize it or not. But in this Church, we do realize it, and I, for my part, and on behalf of all God’s people, wish to say thank you to every single one of you for showing the world that love is still alive.”

The bishop concluded his homily by remembering those who died in the line of duty 22 years ago.

Photos by Owen Bonaventura

“Thousands of people died, and hundreds and hundreds of the men and women on the front lines died with them. And hundreds and hundreds served those survivors for months after, and many have been slowly dying since. Those were heroic acts of love, so that Christ was present in the darkest of hours in any person’s life who was in that place we now call Ground Zero.”

“And so on a day like today, we pray that they will rest in eternal peace for the goodness of their life, for they did not fail love, and therefore love will not fail them.”

Following the Bishop’s homily, Deacon Lawlor delivered the universal prayer Universal prayer for all police, fire and rescue workers.

“For all those who care for us daily in the uniformed services, may we always express our thanks to them for their unflinching service to our community and to us as individuals…

For those who have laid down the burden of the perishable body, whose memory we now recall, may they be gathered into the harvest of everlasting life…

For all those who so generously responded in the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and its subsequent cleanup without thought of their own lives, especially for all those who now bare in their own bodies the physical and emotional scars resulting from their service.

After distributing Holy Communion the bishop called Norwalk Police Officer Keith Torreso up to the altar for special recognition. On July 25, 2022, Officer Torreso was dispatched to a 911 call to save the life of a newborn baby Elouise who was not breathing and was unresponsive. He rushed to the location and quickly provided chest compressions and was able to successfully resuscitate the infant.

At the end of Mass, Bishop Caggiano thanked Fr. William H. Atwood, Organist and Diocesan Director of Music Ministry, who lead the schola. After the choir sang the Marian antiphon, “Salve Regina,” and trumpet soloist Ken Tedeschi beautifully played “Taps” as the officers stood in the aisles. The Recessional Hymn was “America the Beautiful.”