Diocesan Blue Mass pays tribute to first responders

DANBURY—Bagpipes played a reverent tune at the annual diocesan Blue Mass honoring fire, police and first responders who serve the diocese. The Mass was held on Sunday, September 9 at 10:30 am at St. Joseph Church in Danbury in solemn commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on 9-11.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the main celebrant along with diocesan priests who serve as police and fire chaplains in Fairfield County. Father Charles Allen, special assistant to the president of Fairfield University, served as chairman of the event.

Law enforcement, fire and emergency medical service personnel of all faiths in Fairfield County along with members of the general public were invited to attend the Mass and reception.

“This is the first time the bishop has offered to celebrate the Blue Mass in the Danbury area. We’re deeply honored that he was able to do so at St. Joseph’s,” said Father Samuel Scott, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Danbury who hosted the event, and a member of the Blue Mass committee.

The Blue Mass takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. Founded by Bishop William E. Lori, the Blue Mass was initiated to celebrate the life and heroism of those who died during the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

During his homily, Bishop Caggiano addressed all the men and women in blue, “Every time you respond with duty and honor, you do so as a messenger of the good news of the Lord.”

Calling on St. Michael the Archangel, the bishop lifted those who work in public safety up in prayer, saying, “So we honor you, hidden ambassadors of Jesus Christ. May He always protect you.”

The bishop thanked all gathered for being open to the call to pursue holiness through their public service profession.

Each year awards are presented to individual local police, fire and first responders for acts of heroism and public service. Fr. Charles Allen read the citations, presenting the awards to the 2018 recipients.

For his service to the people of Stamford, Connecticut, the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Knights of Columbus, and assistant Chief of Police Thomas Wuennemann of the Stamford Police Department presented the Blue Mass Award for 2018 and plaque to Officer Jerry Junes.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

Junes is a 17-year member of the force and an investigator in Stamford’s bureau of criminal investigations.

According to Assistant Chief Wuennemann, “In addition to being an outstanding police officer, Jerry Junes gives more to the community than any officer I know.  He has run our Mighty Mites basketball program for over 20 years.”  The program involves about 200 boys and girls who play basketball or who are cheerleaders. Junes also has 23 boys in the Wilderness Program, which 
introduces many children to the outdoors.

On receiving this award, Junes says, “It is a great feeling of accomplishment. It reminds me why I do what I do.  I have always felt like it is my civic duty to give back to these kids and help them succeed in life.”

Junes also holds an annual coat drive for the less fortunate of the community, he has an annual backpack giveaway program and also meets community members at the Coffee with a Cop events.

For his service to the people of Norwalk, Connecticut, the Diocese of Bridgeport, the Knights of Columbus, and Chief Thomas Kulhawik presented the Blue Mass Award for 2018 and plaque to Detective Christopher Imparato.

Chief Kulhawik noted that Detective Imparato joined the Norwalk Police Department in February 2009. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Marist College. Detective Imparato worked in the patrol division until his promotion in April 2014. He has received two meritorious commendations in his career as well as a unit citation.

Detective Imparato was the 2017 Norwalk Police Department Officer of the Year. He worked extensively for two years on two cold case murder investigations in conjunction with the cold case unit of the Office of the Chief States Attorney. Because of his persistence and diligence as the lead investigator, Detective Imparato was able to develop evidence to support probable cause for the arrest of the suspects involved in these two murder cases. Detective Imparato has always taken great pride in his work and in studying these cases, to fully understand them by deconstructing and then reconstructing them in order to bring them to fruition. Detective Imparato’s professionalism and his commitment to his work are a credit to him and the Norwalk Police detective bureau.

A moment of silence was said for all the men and women in blue who died this past year, and special remembrance was made to Ridgefield Police Chief John Roche who passed away only a week prior to the Mass.

Dr. George Kain, Commissioner of the Ridgefield police department, read a heartfelt tribute to Chief Roche, saying, “he encouraged others to be the best they could be” and “he was a man of strong faith.”

Family, friends and members of the community gathered in the school gym following the Mass.

The Blue Mass is sponsored by The Fairfield County Councils and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus and other generous benefactors throughout Fairfield County.

Chaplains of the Fairfield County Fire, Police and Emergency Medical Service Departments

Rev. Charles H. Allen, S.J………….. Fairfield Town Emergency Services

Msgr. Laurence R. Bronkiewicz…… Ridgefield Police Department

Rev. Joseph Cervero………………… Redding Police Department

Rev. Jeffrey W. Couture……………. Weston Police Department

Deacon John DeRoin……………….. Stony Hill Fire Department & EMS Bethel

Msgr. Stephen M. DiGiovanni…….. Stamford Police Department

Rev. Sudhir Dsouza…………………. Norwalk Police Department

Rev. Brian P. Gannon………………. Trumbull Police Department

Rev. Francis T. Hoffmann………….. Norton Fire Department

Deacon Frank Masso………………. Huntington Volunteer Fire Company No. 3

Deacon John J. Moranski………….. Bridgeport Police Department

Deacon William D. Murphy……….. Germantown Fire Department and Danbury Police Department

Rev. Richard D. Murphy……………. Greenwich Police Department

Rev. Nicholas Pavia………………… Stratford Police Department

Rev. Christopher Perrella………….. Norton Heights Fire Department

Rev. Robert J. Post…………………. Stamford Fire Department

Rev. Paul raj Sankaralingam………. Norwalk Fire Department

Rev. Bruce Roby…………………….. Stratford Fire Department

Msgr. William J. Scheyd……………. New Canaan Emergency Services and Norwalk Fire Department

Rev. Thomas P. Thorne……………. Westport Police and Fire Departments and Federal Bureau of Investigation