HARRISON – Amid national tensions and unrest, local parishioners from St. Athanasius Catholic Church gathered Saturday, Sept. 26 in front of the Clare County Sheriff Department to offer prayers of support for law enforcement officers and all first responders. Law enforcement officers attending included Sheriff John Wilson, Undersheriff Dwayne Miedzianowski, and Sgt. James Dawson, along with other staff members.
The Rev. J. Marcel Portelli led the group in a service which sought divine support for those who live their lives in service to others, run toward danger, and assist with no thought to their own potential harm. It was emphasized how important it is to support earnest, dedicated and decent public servants during these times when anger and unrest spurred by the actions of a few seem to be spilling over onto law officers who continue to do their work ethically, day after day.
Portelli began with an introduction to the Intercession of St. Michael for Law Enforcement Personnel.
“We’ve gathered here to honor our law enforcement officers and to pray for their safety by beseeching the powerful intercession of St. Michael the Archangel,” he said. “As you know, the saints in heaven are God’s best friends, and so, any friend of God’s should be a friend of ours too.”
He thanked the families of law enforcement officers for the many missed family events, and the long days without their loved ones who were elsewhere, responding to the needs of others.
“It’s important that we say Thank You, especially in these days where there seems to be an outward scorn and contempt for law enforcement,” he said. “We owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.”
Portelli went on to say that, as the patron saint of police officers, St. Michael knows what it means to face the threat of evil and danger, because St. Michael has a long history of battling Satan. He then recited a passage from the Book of Revelation (12:7-8).
This was followed by praying of the Chaplet of St. Michael the Archangel, and the gospel reading of John 15:9-17.
A meditation followed which spoke to the simile of sacrificing one’s life for others to gain eternal life, while those who wear a badge exercise such sacrifice daily.
“Nobody goes into law enforcement simply to ‘make a difference,’” Portelli said. “No, because anyone can have a generosity of heart in pretty much any line of work. But few professions require risking one’s life for others; only love can motivate one to do that.
“Truly, there is ‘no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another’ and so, in a very visible way, when our first responders put others first, especially when they’re scorned unjustly, they participate in the work of Christ. That’s no exaggeration, because they imitate Christ every time they do so.”