22nd Annual Red,
White & Blue Mass Honors
White & Blue Mass Honors
'Respond to Life's Challenges in Heroic Ways'
By Shelley Wolf, FCC Contributor/Photos by Donna Antonacci
Norwich - The large black doors of the Cathedral of St. Patrick, adorned with colorful fall wreaths and flanked by mounds of yellow and orange mums, opened wide on a breezy fall day to welcome military personnel and their families to the 22nd Annual Red, White & Blue Mass for the military on Sunday, November 3, 2013.
Smartly uniformed personnel from all branches of military service were in attendance, including active duty, reserve, retired, veterans, auxiliaries and their families. Families of prisoners of war and of those missing in action were given special consideration and were seated in the front pews of the cathedral.
The Red, White & Blue Mass is celebrated each year to honor service men and women as well as those who have given their lives in the line of duty. This year’s theme —military chaplains — honored chaplains of all denominations who serve alongside soldiers to provide for their spiritual needs.
This year’s Mass began with a moving prelude, “American Anthem,” sung a capella by the US Coast Guard Academy Glee Club. The Mystic Highland Pipe Band followed, playing the theme songs of each branch of military service.
After a lone trumpet played “Taps” and “Reveille,” Monsignor Anthony S. Rosaforte, rector of the Cathedral of St. Patrick, graciously welcomed the military members and their families. “You truly honor us with your presence,” Monsignor Rosaforte said.
Color guard from all branches of the service processed into the cathedral, followed by the Knights of Columbus, 20 priests, and the Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D., Bishop of Norwich.
The Bishop honored all who serve in the military on land, air, and sea in the “ultimate mission of peacekeeping,” especially military chaplains. “We support your very effective work with our prayers,” Bishop Cote said.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., of the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, was the invited homilist. Located in Washington, D.C., the Archdiocese for Military Services certifies Roman Catholic chaplains to serve active-duty military members, those in Veterans Administration hospitals, and federal employees outside the U.S. All told, the Archdiocese serves 1.8 million men, women and children.
Archbishop Broglio noted that many stories of the actions of chaplains are a part of this nation’s history. He retold the story of one such chaplain, Lt. Thomas M. Conway, who was born in Waterbury, Connecticut. Father Conway served as a Navy chaplain in World War II. In 1945, Father Conway was onboard the USS Indianapolis when it was hit by a Japanese submarine at midnight in the Philippine Sea.
After the ship sank, Father Conway and hundreds of men spent several days in the shark-infested waters awaiting rescue. Father Conway swam from survivor to survivor, offering what aid and comfort he could. “In the end, exhaustion overcame him and he drowned, but many lived because of his efforts,” Archbishop Broglio said.
“Like Father Conway, we can all respond to life’s challenges in heroic ways,” the Archbishop added.
Speaking directly to the chaplains in attendance, Archbishop Broglio urged them to “be mindful of the sacrifice” of those in service. “As you pray for them, remember that they are weary of war,” he said. In addition, military personnel must keep their faith in tact in times of budget cuts, the Archbishop noted.
“They defend democracy, religious freedom, and certain principles on which this country was founded,” Archbishop Broglio stressed. Those principals can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which states that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, he said.
“These principles should determine our discourse,” Archbishop Broglio said. “As Catholics, it means we hold ourselves to these principles and not to the whims of the moment.”
Following the homily, service men and women and their families representing all branches of the military brought the gifts to the altar. The US Coast Guard Academy Glee Club sang “Mansions of the Lord,” “Eternal Father Strong to Save,” and finally “God Bless America,” which drew applause from all those in attendance.
Following communion, the Mystic Highland Pipe Band, dressed in kilts, marched to the altar to the beat of a snare drum, then played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes with the sound resonating throughout the cathedral.
The Mass concluded with the “Star Spangled Banner” and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
This year’s printed program extended special thanks to Douglas Green, the director of music and organist at the Cathedral of St. Patrick, for his “superb musical arrangements and choir direction.”
Next year’s Red, White & Blue Mass will be celebrated on Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
I gave my best to you
- Refrain from “American Anthem,” music and lyrics by Gene Scheer, sung by the US Coast Guard Academy Glee Club