Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz told first responders that they’re icons of Jesus who came to serve.
He celebrated the Blue Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville to honor men and women who serve as firefighters, police and sheriff’s officers and Emergency Medical Service workers.
He welcomed them to the cathedral and thanked them for their service.
“It’s your lives we hold up in gratitude as we recall on this day” the 9/11 attacks, said the archbishop at the beginning of the liturgy. “We recognize the sacrificial service of first responders.”
During his homily, the archbishop shared with those who’d gathered that six years ago he and Pope Francis attended a service at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
“It was a touching event to be so close to the destruction and be able to join in prayer for those who’d died but also for the survivors and the families who remained,” said Archbishop Kurtz.
He noted also that as he was walking into the cathedral for the Mass, he was struck by the display of a metal beam brought to the city from Ground Zero in New York City, the former site of the World Trade Center’s twin towers which were destroyed in the attacks. The beam, he said, a “fragment from the great destruction” is in the form of a cross, a sign of hope.
He shared with his listeners that the Catholic Church is preparing to celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Sept. 14. The exaltation of the cross symbolizes that “even in suffering we see hope and a future,” he said.
The Blue Mass, he told them, is an opportunity to pray and lift up those “heroes” who gave their lives in service and those still serving. “We desperately need heroes. A hero is that person who reaches out in rescue and service to others without counting the cost,” said the archbishop. “A hero also knows full well what it means to put their lives at the service of others.”
Though it may seem at times as if they are taken for granted, the archbishop said to the first responders, “I’m here to tell you we don’t take you for granted. We desperately need you and we desperately thank you,” he said.
The church is built on Christ who came not to be served, but to serve. “What a fitting icon of Jesus who serves is each one of you,” said the archbishop to them.