Hermits honor local law enforcement at annual Blue Mass
In a display of respect and as a means to honor and recognize the area’s law enforcement and first responders, a group of Hermits made the annual trip to the South Jersey Blue Mass.
Presiding over this year’s Blue Mass was His Excellency, The Most Reverend Dennis Joseph Sullivan (pictured center with Bro. David Graber and this year’s contingent of Hermits). For 20 years, this meaningful Mass has recognized the service, sacrifice, and dedication of South Jersey’s law enforcement and emergency responders. Leading this year’s group was Lt. Carmen Scaffidi, New Jersey State Police (Ret.) P’21 ’24 ’25 (far right) who now serves as a Prep Faculty Member in the Science and English Departments.
A proud Hermits Parent and dedicated community servant, the Blue Mass holds a special place in Lt. Scaffidi’s heart as he played an active role in the Blue Mass throughout his 25 years of service with the New Jersey State Police. He takes great pride in having served the citizens of New Jersey as a State Trooper and has shared his knowledge through his classes as well as the school’s Third Semester program by bringing several of his former colleagues onto campus. His experience as a public servant in law enforcement has made him a dynamic educator with a unique perspective on the importance of servant leadership. Also, in the process, he has quickly become a student favorite.
The Blue Mass has transformed into an integral part of the student body becoming more attuned with the community. The annual tradition of attending the event has bonded alumni and current students alike who have gained even more of an appreciation for the sacrifices made by our courageous men and women in law enforcement. Included below is a personal account of the day by Lt. Scaffidi’s son, Domenic ’21, who attended the Mass during his time as a student.
To Lt. Scaffidi, our law enforcement, emergency responders, and their families, we send a big thank you from the Hermit Brotherhood!
My 2018 Blue Mass Experience
Domenic Scaffidi ’21
On Wednesday, September 30, 2018, I attended the 21st Annual Diocese of Camden Blue Mass at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church in Blackwood, NJ. I have been attending this Mass for several years now. I knew from the first Mass I attended I would make every effort to continue my attendance. The Blue Mass is celebrated with law enforcement and emergency service agencies from a six-county Diocesan area. The purpose of the Mass is to offer thanks to God for the service and sacrifice given to the communities by first responders and to ask Him for His continued protection over those members.
The Mass has special meaning to me because my father is one of those who need God’s protection. My father has been a NJ State Trooper for over 23 years. He often tells me interesting and funny stories about the more unusual situations he has experienced, although I know there are many more serious encounters he will most likely never share with me or anyone. I know in my heart from just watching him and from how he treats his family, friends, and strangers with compassion and understanding, that he has seen far too much suffering and pain. I know he has several times been in the gravest of danger, but the Blue Mass reminds me that St. Michael stood by him at those moments which resulted in him returning home safely to us. I also know my dad has lost close co-workers…friends…brothers to tragedy, and the Mass, therefore, has immense meaning to him. I think the loss he has experienced partly led to him becoming a Blue Mass committee member many years ago. Sometimes, he is able to include me and my brothers in the Mass. Last year we carried and presented the Blue Mass pins and Rosaries to the Bishop for blessing. In prior years we presented the gifts, served as seating ushers, and distributed the pins to the other attending school children.
This year, I was glad and proud to see some of my fellow classmates at the Mass representing our school. It was also nice to see the middle school my two brothers and I attended, St. Mary’s, sing the opening hymn, “American Tears.” I also met several influential community leaders like Senator Fred Madden who, I was surprised to learn, has a grandson at the Prep, NJ State Police Colonel Pat Callahan, who I learned was my father’s academy classmate, and Bridgeton City Police Chief Mike Gaimari, whose son is a Prep alumnus currently attending La Salle University.
One of the many things I like about the Mass is that it is always celebrated by the Bishop, and Bishop Sullivan always makes time to talk with attendees and pose for pictures after. I also like that all denominations as well as non-denominational people are welcome at the Mass. You do not have to be Catholic to appreciate the reverence floating so thick in the air. Likewise, you do not have to be a first responder to feel and understand the loss and sorrow captured by that slightly uncomfortable pitch of the bagpipes, the heavy beat of the bass drums, and the sharp tap of the snare. The pipes and drums are probably one of my favorite parts of the Mass. The Color Guard is always impressive. Their precision and discipline represent the importance of attention to detail and training, which help to ensure the emergency responder’s successful outcome in times of chaos. The Star Spangled Banner is always sung or played as Mass starts. It reminds us of how, when bad things happen, causing people to run for cover in fear and panic, our first responders run toward the danger. The Blue Mass has taught me that God gives them the strength and courage to do so. The saddest part of the Mass for me is the ringing of the bell during the naming of those recently lost. With each name, I think about what that person meant to their family and friends, and I remind myself of St. Matthew who said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called the Children of God.” It gives me some comfort to think they have earned such a title in Heaven, and I hope some of that comfort finds its way to their families. I think the Blue Mass is the perfect place for families and friends to find some peace.
Lt. Scaffidi P’21 ’24 ’25 (far left) is joined by his son, Domenic ’21, and State Senator, Fred Madden at the 2018 South Jersey Blue Mass