DEPEW, N.Y. (WIVB) — The church bells are ringing at Our Lady of Pompeii as more than 400 students, first responders, and parishioners sit inside, opening hymnals, beginning a mass for fallen officers, firefighters, and EMTs. 

“They do so many things for us so it’s good thing we return the favor and give our gratitude to them,” said Andrew Wargo, the organizer for the Blue Mass.

Wargo is a senior at St. Mary’s and a volunteer firefighter with the Bowmansville Department. He has watched his grandfather respond to calls for 55 years so when he was of age, he didn’t think twice about signing up. Now, he wants to make a career out of it. He says he feels how much the community, especially his fellow students, appreciate what they put on the line each time they respond.

“And given what happened recently, we decided, especially now, it’s so important to have this mass,” said Wargo, talking about the recent death of Buffalo Police Officer Craig Lehner. “It was heartbreaking.”

Wargo says it hit really close to home hearing about the 34-year-old diver and K-9 officer dying in the line of duty and he says he’s grateful for everything every first responder does day in and out. He tells us he’s honored to stand for them and among them during this annual mass.

“We all stand together as one family regardless of the badge we wear.”