COVID-19 restrictions did not stop the Diocese from holding two of its annual liturgies to honor those work in health care and those who work in public safety.
The White Mass, for physicians, nurses and others who work in healthcare, was celebrated by Coadjutor Bishop Alberto Rojas on Oct. 11 at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral. Bishop Rojas also celebrated the Blue Mass, for first responders and those in public safety, at St. Charles Borromeo Parish on Sept. 29.
Both liturgies were held outdoors, per San Bernardino County public gathering regulations, and drew fewer attendees than normal. But the health care and first responder vocations have figured prominently this year during the pandemic and with the recent wildfires, so participants were glad to have an opportunity to thank them and pray for them at the Masses.
“You take care of life which is a precious gift from God,” Bishop Rojas said during his homily at the White Mass, addressing those in healthcare. “I’m sure God uses you many times to cure people.”
Speaking at the Blue Mass of first responders and those in public safety Bishop Rojas said “they are literally putting their lives at risk to save others. That’s very Christ-like isn’t it?”
The Blue Mass, held for the 19th straight year in the Diocese, also serves a moment to bestow the Chief Patrick Crowe Award, given to a first responder or public safety worker who has integrated their faith into their work. This year’s honoree was Joe Scarite, a retired firefighter who is the coordinator of the emergency response team at his parish, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Yucaipa. During the recent El Dorado Fire, Scarite led efforts to provide shelter to a group of youth and counselors who had been evacuated from a local youth home.
The White Mass, held for the seventh straight year in the Diocese, is also an occasion to award those in their chosen profession. Several honors were given at the 2020 White Mass.
Sister Margo Young, C.P.P.S., M.D., received the St. Luke Award, given to a doctor/physician who has distinguished himself/herself professionally in a way that reflects Catholic values and moral ethics. Debbie Thomas, NP, received the Florence Nightingale Award, given to a licensed nurse who has distinguished himself/herself in the field of nursing in a way that reflects Catholic values and moral ethics. Dr. Victoria Senga Clamor received the Bishop Award, given to a healthcare provider, other than a physician or nurse, who has distinguished himself/herself by providing healthcare services in a manner that promotes the mission of the Diocese, “so that people’s lives are filled with hope.” Amanda Nicole Dumaguindin received the St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta Award, given to an individual who is not a medical professional, but has supported health projects and programs, or provided ancillary services in the healthcare system, fulfilling the mission of the Diocese. Ms. Merle Nazareth received the St. Damien of Molokai Award given to hospital chaplains who provide compassionate and dedicated spiritual care to the sick and dying.