HOLMDEL, NJ - They rush into burning buildings to save people trapped inside; pull victims from cars mangled in auto wrecks, and often make the difference between life and death when someone is stricken with a health emergency.

And on May 8 in St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, the men and women who serve their communities as firefighters and emergency services personnel will be honored by Bishop John M. Smith and members of the diocesan family. Bishop Smith has issued an invitation to firefighters and first responders of all faiths who live in or serve in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth or Ocean Counties to attend the Third Annual Firefighters and Emergency Services Mass, set to begin at 6:30 p.m.

In addressing last year’s Fire Mass gathering, Bishop Smith stated, “Day in and day out, you lay your lives on the line to protect us from harm, to rescue us and to provide emergency assistance.  We give thanks to God for the gift of your sacrifice.  And we ask God to bless you and your families.”

This year’s event represents a departure in location and season from the previous two Masses.  In order to make attending as convenient as possible for the men and women to be honored – most of whom serve as volunteers in addition to holding full-time jobs – the diocese plans to celebrate this Mass in each of the four counties on a rotating basis.

The timing of the Mass, previously scheduled in the fall, was changed to early May to move away from the many September 11 memorial ceremonies that take place in the fall.

Msgr. James Innocenzi, who heads the Fire Mass planning committee explained, “We think it is very important to bring people together in prayer and fellowship as a tribute to these selfless men and women. We hope to bring a nice show of support by moving the Mass around the diocese each year.”

A light reception will follow the Mass.  There is no cost to attend.  Anyone interested in taking part is asked to call Jennifer Britton, Office of Communications and Public Relations, (609) 406-7400, ext. 5599, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..