But this was the annual Blue Mass offered by the diocese to honor and pray for those who work in public safety. So Sergeant Price, a Riverside County Deputy Sheriff, took his place among those in uniform. And at the end of the Mass he received the Chief Patrick G. Crowe Public Safety Award, given to a public safety member who exhibits exceptional service to the community, department or church in some way.
Price’s daughter, Brittany, nominated him for the award, calling him her true hero.
“Although he has a stressful job and it takes much of his time and energy, my dad always has enough love and time for God and his family,” Brittany wrote in the letter to nominate her dad.
Also receiving the Chief Patrick G. Crowe Award at this year’s Blue Mass was Riverside County Fire Chaplain Jim Cook. A retired Cal Fire Battalion Chief, Cook was instrumental in the establishment of the Riverside County Fire Chaplain Program and today serves as lead Chaplain for Riverside County Fire. In this role, he carries out administrative responsibilities such as scheduling, recruitment and training while still responding to major fire incidents such as Yarnell Hill, Arizona Fire of 2013 that claimed the lives of members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots Crew with ties to Inland Southern California.
“I am humbled to receive the Patrick G. Crowe award. All the glory belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ,” Cook said. “It has been a blessing to come along side firefighting families and civilians at the worst possible times of crisis in their lives. Without God’s presence and leading I would not be able to do the Chaplain’s job.”
It was the 13th straight year that the diocese celebrated a Blue Mass, started locally by Bishop Gerald Barnes in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001. As is now customary, a ladder truck hanging a massive American flag was parked in front of the church before Mass. Public safety members, active and retired, processed into the church and some took active roles in the liturgy. An estimated 350 people attended the Blue Mass this year.
The ceremonial “Last Alarm” was rung immediately after Mass to honor those in public safety who have died in the line of duty during the previous year and in years past, including those killed responding to the September 11 attacks. Chaplains then came to the front of the church for the blessing of the badges. A reception was held in the parish hall following the Mass.
“It is important to recognize the great sacrifice and bravery that our police, firefighters and emergency responders show on a daily basis so that our communities are kept safe,” said Bishop del Riego. “Our Blue Mass gives us a chance each year to say ‘thank you’ to them.”