You’ve probably read or heard about Off. Robert Salerno, the NYC police officer from West Harrison who was shot in the line of duty on March 22.
The 25-year-old Salerno is a parishioner at St. Anthony of Padua RC Church in West Harrison (known by many as Silver Lake).
On Friday (April 27), St. Anthony’s will use the occasion of its Third Annual Blue Mass (honoring police and firefighters) to recognize their fallen and risen parishioner.
He will be be given a “Papal Medal” by none other than Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican ambassador to the United Nations.
Not only will representatives from dozens of police and fire departments be on hand for the 7:30 p.m. Blue Mass, but a bunch of cops from Salerno’s 44th precinct in the Bronx are expected.
When Father Christopher Monturo first organized a Blue Mass last year at St. Anthony of Padua Church in West Harrison, he got some surprised reactions.
Someone asked him if there would be rhythm and blues. Some else joked about the Blue Man Group.
But no, a Blue Mass is a Mass for police, firefighters, EMS workers and others who put themselves in harm’s way. It’s an opportunity to pray for their well being.
The church will hold its second annual Blue Mass at 7 p.m. tomorrow (April 24). About 200 men and women in uniform are expected, including representatives from some 20 fire departments in central and southern Westchester.
“Many dioceses and parishes around the country celebrate a Blue Mass to honor and pray for our police, firefighters, EMS workers and other uniformed officials,” Monturo told me. “This is an opportunity to honor the good guys — for lack of a better term — and to ask for God’s blessing, to keep them safe and guide them in their duties.”
The first Blue Mass is believed to have been celebrated in Boston during the 1930s, Monturo told me.
“They went through a difficult year of fires and crimes and so forth,” he said.
After Monturo was assigned to St. Anthony of Padua in 2007 and became chaplain of the West Harrison Volunteer Fire Department, he got the idea of starting a Blue Mass.
“It’s a wonderful way to bring the community together and give spiritual support to those who support us — and are usually unsung and unrecognized,” he said.
The picture is of Monturo in 2003, when he was a seminarian at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.