The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland will hold a “Blue Mass” this weekend to honor police officers, firefighters, EMTs and others involved in public safety.
The service comes after months of anti-racism and police protests across the country and in Maine that were sparked by police killings of several unarmed Black people in recent months.
The Mass is an annual event for the diocese, and Gov. Janet Mills and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, are scheduled to attend the 2 p.m. Sunday service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.
“We gather for the Blue Mass to honor those who serve the community by providing safety and protection in Maine,” Bishop Robert Deeley said. “The common good is strengthened by the unconditional way in which these first responders accept their responsibility. This, we must never forget.”
The color blue relates to the blue-colored uniforms predominantly worn by police and those in public safety.
Only 50 will be allowed to attend in person because of pandemic restrictions. The church is streaming the Mass on its website, which will feature a multi-jurisdictional honor guard. Portland’s police and fire chiefs will also read from scripture.
“I have attended the event numerous times over the years and appreciate the community’s thoughts and support for their first responders, perhaps more so this year than any other,” Portland Police Chief Frank Clark said.
While protests against police violence have been held across the state, Portland has seen the largest and most numerous protests. Earlier this month, a large racial justice protest was scheduled to be held in the city, but was called off by organizers after the group received threats.