WOOD-RIDGE, NJ - Assumption Church's annual Blue Mass honoring first reponders was held online this year due to the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. 

The fourth annual service honoring all first responders was livestreamed on the church's Facebook page with only the celebrants and support staff in the sanctuary. 

The Mass was officiated by Father Robert Norton and co-celebrate Father Paul Keenan. Music was provided by Gabriel Valle, Director of Sacred Music, Ty Agosta, Minister of the Word, Tom McCormick was the videographer, and Brother Jim provided technical support. This annual event is coordinated by Councilman and Wood-Ridge Police Commissioner Ezio Altamura who also worked behind the scenes before and during the service.

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"Father Bob did a really good job with the Blue Mass," said Altamura. "We all needed this just as a small way of saying 'thank you' from all of us, for the local first responders, they are a great group of men and women, and those around the country."

The flags and statutes were brought into the church and framed the alter. Norton explained that St. Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of police and St. Florian is the patron saint of firefighters. He prayed for all the first responders including Wood-Ridge Police Chief John Korin and "his brother and sister officers who keep us safe on the streets; Fire Chief Michael Cribben and his cadre of volunteers who keep us safe in our homes, and EMS Captain Dennis Kronyak and his squad of volunteers who get us to the hospital when we are in distress, or we are in crisis." Norton also remembered the Wood-Ridge Police Department's Auxiliary Police and Wood-Ridge Fire Department's Ladies Auxiliary and their service.

Norton said "we gather together to celebrate the contribution of responders in time of crisis and to celebrate the contribution of responders in time of any need." He also said that the congregants watching at home were "first responders in your own way, when obeying the directives and laws established to keep everyone safe. You are all in some way responders in a time of crisis."  He urged those watching to "consciously take on the vocation of responding in time of crisis."

"Remember, those that stand and wait and pray, also serve," he said.



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