PDT Staff Writer
Father Adam Streitenberger will preside at a Blue Mass at St. Mary of the Anunciation Church, 515 5th St., in Portsmouth, on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. The mass is being offered by the Portsmouth Council of the Knights of Columbus, and the public is being invited to come and honor those who protect, serve and defend the freedom of the citizens of Scioto County.
“I came up with the idea,” Dave Timmerman of the K of C said. “I worked for Norfolk Southern for 40 years. I just retired four years ago, and my wife is from the west side, so she wanted to come back here from Roanoke, Virginia. So we moved to Lucasville. While I was in Roanoke, our local church down there, St. Andrews, had a Blue Mass and I was impressed. So I said, ‘why can’t we do that here?’ so I kind of got the ball rolling I guess you might say.”
Timmerman said Post 23 of the American Legion will provide the color guard for the mass followed by a bagpipe player.
“They will come to the front of the church,” Timmerman said. “They’ll do an about-face, and then everyone will be asked to stand for the National Anthem. Then the Fourth Degree will be lined up on both sides of the main aisle, and then the priest and the servers will come in. And after the National Anthem, the color guard will exit the church along with the Fourth Degree. Then we have a regular mass like we would on Sunday. I’m sure the Father’s sermon will deal with those who serve. It will be a Catholic Mass, and of course those who are not Catholic can just be seated.”
The Color Corps is an elective division of the Fourth Degree, whose distinctive presence in parades, wreath-laying ceremonies, confirmations and other Catholic functions is a visible reminder of service to the community. The tuxedo, chapeau, cape and sword worn by the Color Corps were inspired by 19th century naval uniforms, with different cape colors representing nine different program ranks. The ceremonial sword symbolizes Christian Knighthood, and is carried to signify reverence to Church, Eucharist, country and freedom.
Timmerman said a guest speaker will follow the mass. The color guard will then come forward, and Amazing Grace will be played on the bagpipes as they proceed out of the church.
Among those being honored at the Blue Mass will be the Portsmouth Fire Department; New Boston Fire Department; South Shore Fire Department; township fire departments; Portsmouth Police Department; New Boston Police Department; the Ohio State Highway Patrol; the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office; EMS/first responders; active duty members of the armed forces of the United States; veterans of the armed forces of the United States; employees of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville; the Department of Homeland Security; the Federal Bureau of Investigation and American Legion members.
Jim Bailey is a veteran of the Portsmouth Fire Department, and a member of the Knights of Columbus.
“I’m getting chills thinking about it (Blue Mass),” Bailey said. “It means a lot. The firefighters used to have it, and it’s kind of sat we dropped the ball on that, and we’re going to try to get those guys back to doing it. I’m so glad he (Timmerman) thought this up. It’s great to me to be a part of it.”
Timmerman said the Blue Mass honors a wide range of people.
“This is not just for the active duty people,” Timmerman said. “But it’s also for retired people who are former military. And, of course, they are welcome to bring their families, wives, children, whoever. Those who served have somebody at home who has taken care of them too.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.