Hundreds of Catholics in the U.S. military and their families gathered for the 13th annual Red, White and Blue Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Norwich Nov. 7.
The mass, celebrated by Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwich, was held in honor of U.S. National Guard members and reserves from all branches of the military.
Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien of the American Archdiocese for the Military Services, delivered the homily on the theme of just war, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine.
Whether in Iraq or Afghanistan today, or in past wars, St. Augustine's philosophy of “benevolent severity” is as necessary now as it was in the early centuries of Christianity, Archbishop O'Brien said. The idea behind the phrase is that goodness can come, and at times can only come, out of violence that is used as a last resort to defend and protect others.
“The Church sadly recognizes that war is sometimes necessary,” he said, “and when all is said and done, the final responsibility rests with those who have responsibility for the common good.”
Retired Navy Capt. John Donlon of Noank told the Day newspaper afterward that the archbishop's perspective is one that military personnel of all ages and religions need to hear more often.
Many veterans and their families joined in the celebration. Members of the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines served as lectors, sang and presented the gifts.
Marine Cpl. Kemaphoom “Ahn” Chanawongse of Waterford, who died in battle at the start of the Iraq war, was one of 15 men and women commemorated that day.