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Blue Mass today honors first responders
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A special Blue Mass is being held this morning at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in honor of all first responders.

The service, which is being held for the second year in a row, is in conjunction with the national commemoration of Sept. 11, when thousands of people including many first responders – firefighters, police, emergency personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty – perished during the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 11 years ago.

The Mass will begin at 9 a.m. St. Anthony School Principal Mary Lou Hoffman said invitations were sent out to all first responders – “all of the Sheriff’s (deputies), California Highway Patrol, police, firefighters – for this morning’s service. About “30 or so” first responders are expected to be there this morning.

For the second year in a row, members of the honor guard of the Knights of Columbus have volunteered to escort all of the first responders to their pews, Hoffman said.

“The Knights are very, very good. They asked us if they could do it. They saw the Blue Mass (announcement) in the church bulletin last year and they asked to do it,” she said.

The Sept. 11 Blue Mass will be an annual commemoration that the school will be sponsoring, she added.

Actually, it’s “the Student Council doing this with their moderators, Marianne Tolberg and Kim Morenzone,” Hoffman said.

During the Blue Mass last year, “we released balloons, but we’re not going to do that this year,” she said. They did it last year because it was the 10th anniversary of the events of Sept 11, 2001, she explained.

However, like last year, there will be a reception in honor of the first responders after the Mass.

“This is the special Mass for this week,” with all the students attending, so there will be no service on Wednesday when the school usually has its weekly students’ mass, Hoffman said.

In November, the students will also hold a special Veterans Day Mass with the Knights of Columbus honor guard taking part as well. At this Blue Mass, all veterans as well as parents and grandparents are invited to attend.

“We’ve done this for the last two or three years. This is important because these people (veterans) have done wonderful things and we need to let them know they’re appreciated,” Hoffman said.

At the same time, students get to learn about the significance of Veterans Day and why we honor veterans, she said.

Presiding over the Blue Mass this morning is St. Anthony of Padua pastor, Father Patrick Walker.