Fire departments are blessed on patron saint’s feast day

The Rev. Karl Lusk, right, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Bardstown, Ky., blessed the fire fighting trucks of the New Haven and Rolling Fork fire departments at a celebration of the Feast Day of St. Florian, patron saint of firefighters. The Rev. Lusk was joined at the St. Florian celebration by Father Troy Overton, administrator of St. Catherine Church in New Haven, Ky., and Immaculate Conception Church in Culvertown, Ky. With the Rev. Lusk in the above photo are New Haven Fire Chief Freddie Dewitt, center, and Frank Hall, chief of the Rolling Fork department. (Photo Special to The Record)

NEW HAVEN, Ky. — Two central Kentucky all-volunteer fire departments — the New Haven Volunteer and Rolling Fork Volunteer departments — held a service of recognition and blessing earlier this spring at the departments’ station on Center Street here.

The two departments provide fire protection and rescue teams to the city of New Haven, and to the rural area around the city that covers about 100 square miles in southern Nelson and northern LaRue counties.

The opportunity to honor the volunteers of the two departments was linked with the observance of the feast day for St. Florian, patron saint of firefighters, according to Father Troy Overton, administrator of St. Catherine Church in New Haven and Immaculate Conception Church in Culvertown, Ky.

“We had wanted to find a way to recognize the good work of these two departments, since we are all part of the same community,” Father Overton said at the May 10 blessing and celebration. “I met with the chiefs of both departments and their chaplain, Father Karl Lusk, pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Bardstown, Ky., who lives in New Haven. And they were very receptive to the idea.”

Father Overton and the Rev. Lusk offered prayers to ask God’s blessing on the fire apparatus, equipment and building as well as the firefighters themselves. A St. Florian medal was blessed and presented to each firefighter.

About 60 people attended the event, in addition to the 22 members of the two departments and other representatives of the Bardstown-Nelson County Fire Department and the Boston, Ky. Fire Department.

“We really appreciated the community turnout to support our firefighters,” the Rev.  Lusk said. “We hope to make this an annual event to honor those who give countless hours in training, responses and community service.”

St. Florian was a Roman soldier who headed a unit of the Roman Army specially trained in fighting fires. That unit, according to information from Fathers Overton and Lusk, was stationed in what is now Austria. Those firefighters were assigned to protect government buildings and represent one of the first recorded trained and organized fire-fighting units in history.

Florian became a Christian and was executed by the Roman army when he refused to recant his faith and persecute other Christians.

Because he was a martyred firefighter, he was canonized as a saint and became the patron saint of firefighters around the world.

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