Annual Firefighters Mass set to honor, bless first responders on Oct. 15

October 10, 2023

Fire trucks lined the street in front of the Co-Cathedral with crossed ladders hoisting a large U.S. flag at last year’s Firefighters Mass. (Herald file photos)

HOUSTON — Firefighters face dangers beyond the duty of handling blazes — dying of cancers, heart attacks and car crashes as they dedicate themselves to protecting the lives of residents and their property.

On Sunday, Oct. 15, the Archdiocese will thank and pray for all firefighters and volunteers at the Annual Archdiocesan Firefighters Mass.

The 11 a.m. Mass, presided by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and sponsored by the St. Florian Society of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, will be held at the downtown Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

“This Mass is an opportunity for all active and retired firefighters to pray together, to honor those firefighters who have passed, and to have a fraternal gathering with other firefighters and their families,” said Chief Christopher Chavez, Mass organizer and retired Houston firefighter.

“This is a dangerous, high-risk profession. Support from family, friends and the community lets our firefighters know they are appreciated,” Chief Chavez added.

During the Mass, a special tribute will be given to firefighters who have passed in the previous year. The tribute will include a reading of the names of deceased firefighters, which will be accompanied by the ringing of bells.

This tribute includes Houston Fire Department firefighter Chase Fleming, a 24-year-old who died from injuries in an off-duty motor vehicle accident this past Aug. 17.

Another young firefighter, Patrick Poppa Rocha, died at 25 years old last May after following the career path of his father, former Houston Fire Department District Chief Theodore Rocha. He was a graduate of St. Augustine Catholic School and St. Thomas High School.

Also, among those being remembered, Gaspar Gomez, 60, served as a fire inspector for the City of Houston for 29 years before passing last October. Active firefighter Willie Clyde Nelson Jr. was a 16-year veteran with the Houston Fire Department when he passed at 50 last April.

Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena said he salutes the brave men and women who are firefighters and pays his respects to their families. Fire trucks will line the street in front of the Co-Cathedral with crossed ladders hoisting a large U.S. flag.

The Archdiocesan Annual Firefighter Mass is open to active and retired firefighters, their families and the public. †