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Blue Mass Opens Police Week 2022

Release Date
Thu, 05/05/2022
Blue Mass image showing the attendees and color guard in St. Patrick Church on May 3.
CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, second pew center, and other law enforcement leaders watch as a joint federal and National Capital Region Color Guard present the colors at the 28th Blue Mass at St. Patrick Church in Washington, D.C., on May 3. CBP photo by Jaime Rodriguez, Sr.

More than a hundred law enforcement officers and public safety officials, including dozens from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, gathered on Tuesday at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., for the Archdiocese’s 28th annual Blue Mass. The ceremony, which began outside the cathedral with a solemn, but stirring processional march led by federal, state and local honor guard pipe and drum units, was held to remember the fallen and give thanks to first responders who continue to serve.

This year’s Blue Mass returned to its traditional time frame in early May, preceding Police Week, after it was canceled in 2020, and then postponed until September in 2021, because of the pandemic.

“Given the extraordinary challenges of the past couple of years, which continue today, it is so imperative that we support all of those courageous men and women in uniform who risk their lives day in and day out to protect and defend us,” said Father Andrew Wakefield, the pastor of St. Patrick Church who welcomed those attending the Mass. “You are the very best of us and we are grateful to you and your families for the risks you take each day in serving our nation.”

CBP leaders attend the annual Blue Mass May 3 at St. Patrick Church in Washington, D.C.
CBP senior leaders from Air and Marine Operations, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Office of Field Operations sit together at the 28th Blue Mass at St. Patrick Church in Washington, D.C. From left, Wade Plant, Nathan Aller, Frank Natividad, Joshua Hitchcock, Casey Durst and Ruben Cruz-Lugo. CBP photo by Jaime Rodriguez, Sr.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, was the principal celebrant and homilist who led the Mass. “The church is honored to extend a word of compassion and consolation to each family whose loved ones have offered their lives in heroic service to our community and to our nation,” said Gregory, who officiated the Blue Mass for the first time. “Our police officers and first responders represent an important part of our society, and your families are always near to the heart of the church through this Archdiocese.”

The Cardinal also thanked high-level officials for attending the ceremony. “I personally welcome and recognize those civic officials and administrators from the law enforcement agencies who join us in prayer this day,” said Gregory. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz, CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner Pete Flores, CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner AnnMarie Highsmith, CBP Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner Manuel Padilla, Jr., and CBP Acting Deputy Executive Commissioner Erin Vespe were among the top brass who attended the Mass.

The CBP Honor Guard stands in formation outside of St. Patrick Church prior to the annual Blue Mass May 3.
Members of CBP’s Honor Guard stand in formation outside of St. Patrick Church in Washington, D.C., prior to the Blue Mass ceremony on May 3. From left, Albert Herrera, Eric Crouston, Enrique Mireles, Jonathan McElhaney, Martin Valenzuela, Jason Adams, Mark Cousins and Kirk Gomes. CBP photo by Jaime Rodriguez, Sr.

The ceremony also included a presentation of colors and the names of the fallen were read, followed by a soulful rendition of Echo Taps. A record number of individuals were honored at this year’s Blue Mass. It was noted during the service that in 2021, the nation lost 458 law enforcement officers in the line of duty. “This year locally we’re honoring 74 of our fallen men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice and 14 individuals from previous years,” said Reverend Monsignor Salvatore Criscuolo, a retired pastor from St. Patrick and a chaplain to first responders in the District of Columbia. “We lost the majority to COVID. Throughout our country, that is the No. 1 killer of first responders at this time. We have lost so many good men and women in the area of law enforcement.”

CBP had 37 employees honored at the ceremony, with 32 of those being law enforcement officers. The remaining five individuals held other positions at the agency. All were determined to be line of duty deaths during 2021.

“We’ve had line of duty deaths throughout the history of our agency, but never as many as during the last two years,” said Kendall Kabban, the national chaplain for CBP’s Office of Field Operations. “All of the events throughout Police Week are to honor the service and memories of the fallen, but this particular event is spiritual in nature. It’s significant in that it comforts the soul.”

The 37 CBP employees who were honored include:

  • CBP Officer Trainee Wolf Valmond, CBP Field Operations Academy, Glynn County, Georgia;
  • CBP Agriculture Specialist Juan Ollervidez III, Hidalgo Port of Entry, Hidalgo, Texas;
  • Facility Operations Specialist Denis Jasper Wells, CBP Office of Facilities and Asset Management, Tucson, Arizona;
  • CBP Officer Andrew R. Bouchard, Houston Seaport Port of Entry, Houston, Texas;
  • CBP Officer Troy A. Adkins, El Paso Port of Entry, El Paso, Texas;
  • CBP Officer Byron Shields, Nogales Port of Entry, Nogales, Arizona;
  • Director of Field Operations Beverly Good, Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Special Agent Robert Allan Mayer, Jr., Office of Professional Responsibility, Resident Agent in Charge Office, Del Rio, Texas;
  • Maintenance Mechanic Rudy Morales, Jr., Office of Facilities and Asset Management, El Paso, Texas;
  • CBP Officer Cesar Sibonga, Kenneth G. Ward Port of Entry, Lynden, Washington;
  • CBP Officer Genaro Guerrero, San Ysidro Port of Entry, San Ysidro, California;
  • CBP Officer Carlos C. Mendoza, Hidalgo Port of Entry, Hidalgo, Texas;
  • CBP Officer Crispin San Jose, San Ysidro Port of Entry, San Ysidro, California;
  • Border Patrol Agent Alejandro Flores-Bañuelos, Indio Station, Indio, California;
  • Border Patrol Agent Christopher Shane Simpkins, Lake Charles Station, Lake Charles, Louisiana;
  • Border Patrol Agent Freddie Vasquez, El Paso Station, El Paso, Texas;
  • Border Patrol Agent Juan M. Urrutia, Brownsville Station, Olmito, Texas;
  • CBP Officer Ruben Facio, New Orleans Port of Entry, New Orleans, Louisiana;
  • Border Patrol Agent Edgardo Acosta-Feliciano, Deming Station, Deming, New Mexico;
  • Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Daniel P. Cox, Special Operations Detachment, Tucson, Arizona;
  • Border Patrol Agent Ricardo Zarate, McAllen Station, McAllen, Texas;
  • CBP Officer Yokemia L. Conyers, Miami International Airport Port of Entry, Miami, Florida;
  • CBP Officer Monica J. Riola, Los Angeles International Airport Port of Entry, Los Angeles, California;
  • CBP Officer Erik J. Skelton, Miami International Airport Port of Entry, Miami, Florida;
  • Border Patrol Agent Chad E. McBroom, Special Operations Detachment, Tucson Sector, Tucson, Arizona;
  • CBP Technician Francisco V. Tomas, Miami International Airport Port of Entry, Miami, Florida;
  • CBP Officer David B. Saavedra, Miami International Airport Port of Entry, Miami, Florida;
  • Border Patrol Agent Luis H. Dominguez, Wellton Station, Yuma, Arizona;
  • Border Patrol Agent David B. Ramirez, Sector Intelligence Unit, San Diego Sector, San Diego, California;
  • Border Patrol Agent Alfredo M. Ibarra, Blythe Station, Blythe, California;
  • CBP Officer Victor Donate, Atlanta Port of Entry, Atlanta, Georgia;
  • Enforcement Analysis Specialist David H. Gray, Houlton Sector Intelligence Unit, Hodgdon, Maine;
  • Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Rafael G. Sanchez, Hebbronville Station, Hebbronville, Texas;
  • Port Director Mathew L. Lyons, Whitlash Port of Entry, Whitlash, Montana;
  • Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Anibal “Tony” Perez, Ajo Station, Why, Arizona;
  • Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Martin Barrios, Brian A. Terry Station, Bisbee, Arizona;
  • Border Patrol Agent Salvador Martinez, Jr., El Paso Station, El Paso;

The tradition of the Blue Mass began at St. Patrick Church in 1934, when the Catholic Police and Fire Society saw it as an opportunity to gather and pray for their fallen comrades. The Mass, the first of its kind, flourished until 1975. At that time, the enrollment in police organizations declined and the Mass was suspended. In 1994, the church decided to rekindle the tradition and combine it with National Police Week, another event that recognizes and honors law enforcement personnel who died in the line of duty. Police Week began in 1962, and this year will be observed from May 11-17 with significant CBP participation.

Last Modified: May 05, 2022