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HAMMONTON - A celebratory Mass was held on Sunday afternoon at St. Joseph’s Church as all first responders were honored in the church’s first-ever “Blue Mass.”

“We hope for it to become an annual event,” said the Rev. Thomas Donio during the Mass.

Lt. Mark Fiorentino of the Hammonton Police Department said he appreciates events like this. “I like the respect shown; it makes you feel good in this day and age.”

Police Officer Charles Sbarra III echoed Fiorentino’s sentiments.

“It’s nice to know that the community has our back” said Sbarra. “This is the first event like this here at home and it’s nice to see all the people.”

The Mass fell on the Day of Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came to the followers of Jesus. The Mass tied the commission given to Christians on the Day of Pentecost to the work of first responders.

“You are an example of Christ’s love, words cannot express our gratitude,” said Donio as he addressed the first responders who attended the event. There was also a special mention of the first responders who have passed away.

The event was also attended by the Knights of Columbus, who led the opening and closing processions.

The firefighters who were set to attend the event were unable to do so because they were called to the scene of an accident. However, Engine 9 was there to raise the American flag in honor of all first responders.

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