Bishop Malooly salutes state’s ‘community of protection’


Staff reporter


WILMINGTON – First responders should use common sense and “bring a presence” to what they do, Bishop Malooly said during his homily at the annual Blue Mass, which was held May 2 at St. John the Beloved Church. The Mass honors police, fire and emergency personnel, along with members of the military.

Police need practical common sense during the crises they face, the bishop said. They are often dealing with people who are not able to use common sense themselves. It is important that the communities they serve know there is a way to deal with difficult situations.

“You form a community of protection for out state,” Bishop Malooly said. “It’s an inspiration for others to do the same.”

And just as Jesus brought a presence to everything he did, first responders must do the same, he continued. People need to realize that the police are there to help them.

“Relying on God’s presence becomes even more important at that time,” he said.

It is important for first responders to see those they interact with as God’s creatures while at the same time protecting themselves and others, the bishop said.

Fr. David Murphy prays during the Blue Mass at St. John the Beloved, Friday, May 2, 2014. (

Representatives from several police, fire, emergency management and military agencies gathered for the 13th annual Mass, which is organized by the parish’s Knights of Columbus council. Several priests concelebrated with the bishop, who noted the significant number of clerics who have ties to the public agencies, either as chaplains or former members.

Father William Cocco, pastor of St. John the Beloved, is a former Ocean City, Md., police officer, and Father Anthony Giamello, chaplain at St. Mark’s High School, is also an Air National Guard chaplain and a former Marine. They joined Bishop Malooly on the altar.

Wilmington Officer Justin Wilkers is congratulated by Father William Cocco, pastor of St. John the Beloved Parish and a former police officer. Wilkers, who was shot in the face in early 2013, was honored at the Mass. (The Dialog/

“This is always a special moment for me,” the bishop said. “It’s a time when we civilians have a time to pray for you who serve so well.”

A special guest at the Mass was Wilmington Officer Justin Wilkers, who was shot in the face in February 2013 following a chase after a traffic stop. Wilkers, who returned to duty last August, received a plaque from the Knights of Columbus. Interim city police chief Bobby Cummings said Wilkers showed a lot of courage the day he was injured, but “I believe he showed even more courage the day he returned to work.”