Kenney House’s 2017 Blue Mass: The Written Rundown

Owen Fink

The Salesianum school colors are, officially, white and gold. Blue, the shade of most of the school shirts and gear, isn’t an actual school color but yet is still one of the most well-known visual identifiers of Salesianum. Another group that comes to mind when thinking of blue is law enforcement officers and first responders. Police officers display it most prevalently on their vehicles and clothes, while fire trucks and ambulances also utilize it in their sirens. Kenney House, decorators of the gym windows in their colors of blue and orange, hosted the annual Blue Mass to honor these brave heroes and heroines on Tuesday, May 25th.

President Kennealey opened the Mass with the traditional Direction of Intention, followed shortly by the presentation of the colors by members of the Wilmington Police Department and the Wilmington Police Pipes and Drums. The Pipes and Drums unit of the police force marched in lock-step, preceding the entrance of the flags with loud bagpipe notes and drum riffs. A crowd of officers and first responders followed the Color Guard to take their seats in the middle of the gym, with the Leach family occupying the first row along with other guests of honor. In his opening, President Kennealey started by welcoming and thanking all members of law enforcement, past and present, who were in attendance. In particular, he welcomed Wilmington’s fire chief Michael Donohue and new police chief, Robert Tracy, who took time out of their work schedules to celebrate Mass and pay tribute to all first responders with the Salesianum community.

In addition to acknowledging these honored guests, President Kennealey also addressed the construction of the new memorial outside the gym. Chris DiSabatino, a graduate of Salesianum in the Class of ’94 and a classmate of Captain Chris Leach, was inspired by the sacrifices made by so many Salesianum graduates that he felt it would be amiss to not remember them in a proper way. As a fitting tribute, Mr. DiSabatino and his landscaping company went to work constructing the current flagpole memorial area outside the Birkenheuer Gym. After all elements had been completed, the memorial was inscribed with the names of all Salesianum graduates who had paid the greatest price for their community. By building this memorial in a highly visible spot on the grass in front of the gym, Mr. DiSabatino has ensured that both Salesianum and the surrounding environment will always have a visible reminder of the dedication that first responders, military, and law enforcement members put forth in their protection of our communities.

The homily, given by Father Beretta, concentrated on the unique yet similar services that God calls each of us to, and the expectations our communities call us to meet and exceed. Following Father Beretta’s touching monologue and Communion came the Salesian Reflection, delivered at the Blue Mass by senior Billy Stradley. In his short speech, Billy shared his personal thoughts on a call to service, and what it means to different people. He shared his dream of becoming a member of law enforcement, and how people in that profession that he looked up to changed his views on life. Succeeding Billy’s moving moment came, in a twist of tradition from our honored guests, a haunting rendition of “Amazing Grace” from the Pipes and Drums Corps. Although the normal chant of “Live Jesus” was omitted from this celebration of school and community faith and goodwill, the traditional hymn often played at funerals fit the theme of the Mass and gave a rousing tribute to those who have fallen in the line of duty.

The conclusion of Blue Mass came with the retirement of the colors by the Pipes and Drums, followed in dual lines by all of the first responders who had chosen to celebrate Mass with Salesianum. After the concluding precession, attendees were offered breakfast in Centenary Hall as Salesianum and Wilmington community members gathered to remember those who have worn blue, in both time at Sallies or in response to their call from God to law enforcement.