The annual Guardian Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral provided the opportunity for an early celebration of the Feast of Guardian Angels as well as to honor and say thank you to police officers, firefighters and all others who serve and protect the people of New York.
The Mass was offered on Oct. 1, the day before the Feast of the Guardian Angels, which was first authorized by Pope Paul V in 1608. Pope Clement X later established Oct. 2 as the feast day.
“What a grand tradition we have in this Guardian Mass, and welcome, everybody, and thank you so much for being a part of it,” said Cardinal Dolan in greeting about 600 people at the cathedral and others watching from home.
“You’re all very special to us and this is our way of saying we love you very much. We respect you. We need you. We thank you. You matter to us, and we ask almighty God to watch over you, to guide you and inspire you in your lofty vocation.”
Cardinal Dolan was joined on the altar by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who retired earlier in the week; Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen, vicar for clergy; retired Auxiliary Bishop John O’Hara; Msgr. Robert Ritchie, cathedral rector; and Msgr. Joseph LaMorte, vicar general and moderator of the curia.
“This morning at this annual Guardian Mass, we salute and thank and support our devoted law enforcement professionals,” said Cardinal Dolan in his homily. “We know we trust that you see yourselves as agents of safety, security and service in our city, our state and our country. And this morning, we affirm you as agents of the Lord’s promised mantle of protection over his people. Now that distinguished officers of the law is an extraordinarily noble vocation, blessed are you to have it, blessed are we to have you,
The officers paid to serve and protect the people they represent have been tested in recent times with the Covid-19 pandemic and civil demonstrations in the streets.
“You will be called agents of God’s love and protection, partners with our guardian angels,” Cardinal Dolan said. “You and the men and women you represent, you’ve carried the demands of your noble vocation with dignity and devotion these troubled months. You’ve shown a prudential balance between rigor and restraint. You’ve been good examples of humility in realizing, hey, we can always improve. You’ve taken a deep breath, exhaled a prayer for divine help and kept on going.”
Cardinal Dolan closed his homily by pointing to an image of St. Michael the Archangel on the altar.
“He’s your patron angel,” he said. “He, the heavenly law enforcement officer, he’s your patron as you persevere in your duty thinking of us instead of yourself.
“So please hear us this morning in this hallowed cathedral, hear us assure you and all the people you represent, you matter a lot to us. Your lives matter a lot to us. We love you. We respect you. Do we ever need you and do we ever thank you.”
Retired Capt. Harrison McKay, 91, served 32 years in the FDNY and attended the Mass with his wife, Dolores, to honor their son, FDNY Lt. Mark McKay, who died of cancer in 2012 after serving at Ground Zero.
“It was beautiful,” said Capt. McKay of the Mass. “(Cardinal Dolan) gave everybody recognition. He has a super personality. He was very outgoing. I liked everything he said and thanked everyone for all the contributions these people made.”
McKay, a Bronx resident, served with Ladder 42 in the Bronx.
“It was very exciting and I couldn’t wait for it,” said McKay of going to work each day. “You know what, the biggest thing is teamwork. If people work together, everything works for the best.”