Blue mass: Celebration of peace and justice at St. Charles Borromeo
The 13th annual Blue Mass was held for Pearl River County first responders on Wednesday at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.
During the mass, Knights of Columbus Oscar J. Gelpi Council Grand Knight Brian Cassagne presented the Tom Wagner Community Spirit Award to members of the sheriff, police, fire and volunteer fire departments as well as the ambulance service.
The Rev. Joseph Truong Trinh celebrated his first Blue Mass as a St. Charles Borromeo priest, and welcomed the departments and their chiefs in addition to their families and friends.
“We give thanks for your dedicated and committed services that you have offered to the people of Pearl River County and to people who love the cities of Picayune and Poplarville,” Trinh said. “We thank you for being here with us this evening to give praise to God and your presence in this church this evening helps us to believe with a sure vision and hope for an even better county and more wonderful cities.
“As members of this community of Pearl River County, through faith and bonds of friendship, we can provide protection to one another.”
Trinh said that peace and justice are two important and necessary conditions for any country, city, community and household. But he reminded all that love was the most important of all.
“The prophet Isaiah had a vision that one day his people would live in a peaceful country, in secure dwellings and quiet resting places,” Trinh said. “The prophet also believed that love could motivate us to work together in order to liberate those who are trapped or victimized by either their own world problems or by the oppressors.”
During the service Cassagne called forward award recipients for Tom Wagner Community Spirit Award from each department represented.
“The Tom Wagner Community Spirit Award began last year,” said Cassagne. “Tom was a long time chief in the volunteer fire department and a member of our church. He passed away two years ago. This is a memorial award based on characteristics that he lived his life by.”
The 2014 Tom Wagner Community Spirit Award was presented to Picayune Police Department Sgt. Michael Boutte.
Boutte is a former Air Force military police officer, served in Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield where he received numerous citations. He was promoted to Picayune Patrol Sergeant in February of 2013 and has worked countless hours assisting sick children and their worried parents.
The 2014 Tom Wagner Community Spirit Award was presented to Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Maj. Julie Flowers.
Flowers loves to serve. She is well known for her efforts to feed the needy and help women through Jacob’s Well Ministries.
She delayed her family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas to prepare and deliver meals to several community members who were unable to do so for themselves. She also prepares meals for 30 to 40 women in the Jacob’s Well Ministry program three to four times a year.
The 2014 Tom Wagner Community Spirit Award was presented to Picayune Fire Department firefighter Jake Smith.
Smith is a member of the “Mississippi Task Force,” where he has received even more extensive training necessary to respond to disaster-related emergencies throughout the United States. He is passionate about his job and always has a positive attitude.
The 2014 Tom Wagner Community Spirit Award was presented to Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Department member Steve Seal of Pine.
Seal began his career as a sheriff’s deputy and firefighter for the city of Picayune. He completed paramedic certification and completed nursing school after graduation from high school. Today, he works full time as Ochsner Medical Center-Northshore operations coordinator for the emergency department, works part time for the Picayune Fire Department, serves as chief of the Pine Grove VFD and is the south region vice president of the Mississippi Firefighters Association.
The final presentation of the 2014 Tom Wagner Community Spirit Award went to AAA Ambulance Service member Mike Geske.
Geske has worked with the company since 2002. He has worked in Picayune since 2008. He has worked full time while caring for his family and parents.
He was described as “big-hearted guy” who is loyal to his family and church.
“I really appreciate the interaction with the departments,” Cassagne said. “They expressed gratitude for what we do for them, but it is equally pleasing to us to offer this event to them.”