The Archdiocese of Newark celebrated its 28th Annual Blue Mass last week, honoring the dedication and sacrifices of active, retired and deceased New Jersey law enforcement personnel at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart — including one local late Jersey City police detective.
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, celebrated the liturgy, which featured honor guard units, bagpipers, drummers and many supporters representing all faiths.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy, former Gov. James E. McGreevey and numerous other dignitaries joined hundreds of members of law enforcement in paying tribute to the four New Jersey police officers killed in the line of duty in recent years — Det. Joseph Seals, a resident of North Arlington, of the Jersey City Police Department; U.S. Capitol Police Officer and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick, whose life was lost just after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection on Capitol Hill; Officer Michael Teel of the Port Authority Police Department; and Officer Sean Peek of the Bridgeton Police Department.
A Capitol Police Honor Guard unit traveled from Washington, D.C., in solidarity with Officer Sicknick.
“The lives and deaths of Det. Joseph Seals and Officers Michael Teel, Brian Sicknick and Sean Peek remind us of their gift to us, their enduring affection for us,” Cardinal Tobin said in his homily. “They left an indelible witness to the greatest love of all, which is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
When Seals died, nearly two years ago, North Arlington Mayor Daniel H. Pronti spoke of the man who was his friend and fellow cop. Pronti is a retired Montclair police officer.
“The Borough of North Arlington, the City of Jersey City and the Seals Family suffered a terrible loss,” Pronti said. “As police officers, we are expected to be prepared for any situation life throws at us. Each day, when an officer leaves their home, their family, their community, they leave knowing the type of work they do and the risks involved.
“Those who are friends, family, community and acquaintances of police officers, rarely think of the most severe, ultimate sacrifice, which may occur. Today, we are all facing exactly that. The Seals Family is and will always be a part of our community. Joe was a friend to me and to many of you. I want you all to keep the Seals Family in your thoughts and prayers as they try to go on with their lives, mourning the loss of their husband, father and son. Rest Easy, Brother Seals. End Of Watch: 12/10/19.”
Additionally, 31 police officers who died of COVID-19 were acknowledged, and the 37 Port Authority officers who were killed during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were also recognized to mark the 20th anniversary of that awful day.
Four police officers who died in retirement were also remembered during the Blue Mass: Jack McGarry of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the East Orange Police Department; Danny Francis of the Newark Police Department; Benedetto “Benny” Christiano of the Bloomfield Police Department; and Richard T. McKnight of the Newark Police Department.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.