Arizona is home to more than half a million veterans who comprise roughly 11 percent of the state’s population. Deacon John Scott, who spent 35 years in the military and retired as a major general in 2003, is hoping many of them attend the Mass in their honor Nov. 3 at All Saints Parish in Mesa.
The “Red, White and Blue Mass,” Deacon Scott said, is an opportunity for veterans, active duty military personnel and their families to join together in prayer, but it’s also meant to include the wider community as well.
“We’re having the Mass to celebrate our veterans, those who have served and those who are serving,” Deacon Scott said. “It’s also to pray for the deceased veterans, those who have given their lives or have been wounded so we can enjoy these freedoms that we have today.”
The Mass, which will be celebrated on a Sunday, begins with a procession of flags representing each branch of the U.S. military, followed by the U.S. and papal flags.
“Then we’ll pay Taps and light some candles down front for all the deceased from all our wars,” Deacon Scott said. “The Mesa Fire Department’s bag pipers will play after the Mass.”
A reception follows the liturgy.
Deacon Scott said the Veterans Administration and MANA House have been helping to get the word out about the event. MANA House serves homeless veterans by providing transitional housing, hot meals and job services.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will preside at the Mass and Fr. Craig Friedley, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Queen Creek, will be the homilist.
Fr. Friedley, who served in the Air Force for 13 years and is currently in the process to become an Army National Guard chaplain, plans to speak about the gift of freedom.
“For us, especially here in America, sometimes we don’t value freedom as much as we should,” Fr. Friedley said. “We forget what the men and women who serve actually do to protect that freedom.”
Many veterans face difficulties, he said, especially when their needs are not met when they get out of the military.
“It’s our job, especially as members of the Catholic Church, to recognize the service that they’ve done and are doing,” Fr. Friedley said. “We are to help them like any other person in our community, whether they are 10,000 miles away or just down the street.”
Red, White and Blue Mass
When: 11 a.m., Nov. 3
Where: All Saints Parish, 1534 N. Recker Road, Mesa
Info: (850) 516-5013