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West Harrison Church Holding 'Blue Mass' Saturday

WEST HARRISON, N.Y. -- St. Anthony of Padua Church in West Harrison will hold its 5th Annual Blue Mass on Saturday afternoon to honor and pray for the community's police officers, firefighters, EMS workers and civic officials.

"I think it is important to honor civil service workers because they put their lives on the line for us daily," said the Rev. Christopher Monturo, pastor of St. Anthony's. "Sometimes we don't appreciate what they do until they help us out. They help keep order in the community or else it would be chaos which we don't need."

Though the parish has only been holding Blue Masses for five years, Monturo said that they are nothing new, adding that they began in Boston in the 1930s during a year when many civil servants were killed in the line of duty. Monturo said that the purpose of the Mass is to give them the community's blessing and strength to show their support.

"Blue Masses are held at different times of the year, but we felt this day was fitting because it is the conclusion of Police and Firefighter Appreciation Week," Monturo said. "As the chaplain for each department, I've gone to many of their events and I see their professionalism, courtesy and kindness. Many times we don't have the opportunity to thank them which is what the day is all about."

Monturo said what makes a Blue Mass different than a regular Mass is not only the men and women lined up in uniform but the patriotism surrounding it. Monturo said that a color guard will be present and the national anthem will be sung before the Mass begins. At the conclusion of the Mass, which takes place outside, the emergency vehicles are blessed and the crowd sings "God Bless America."

"A lot of the people we are honoring live, work and shop in the community," Monturo said. "They are the ones helping to keep the peace on our streets. This is an important community event which brings people together in a unifying way to be grateful to these men an women who are very  important to us."

The Mass will begin at 5 p.m. The church is at 85 Harrison St., West Harrison.

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