Newark, N.J. – The recent passing of U.S. Customs Supervisor Jacqueline Montanaro, who tragically lost her life while attempting to rescue her daughter from a devastating house fire, was commemorated alongside eleven other fallen police officers at the Archdiocese of Newark’s 30th Annual Blue Mass. This solemn event, led by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, took place on November 2 at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The gathering attracted numerous dignitaries, including Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, who joined hundreds of law enforcement officials from across the state in offering prayers for Montanaro and five other brave officers who lost their lives in the line of duty or while helping others.
The Blue Mass also paid tribute to Bayonne Police Captain Paul Jamolawicz, Port Authority Police Officer Anthony Varvaro, Deptford Township Police Officer Robert Shisler, Timothy Sullivan of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, and New Jersey State Police Lieutenant Gerald Barbato, all of whom made the ultimate sacrifice. Additionally, six other deceased officers were recognized during the liturgy. The ceremony featured a poignant procession of police honor guard units, bagpipers, and drummers.
What made this year’s Blue Mass particularly significant was the inclusion, for the first time in its three-decade history, of two local firefighters from the Newark Fire Department. Captain Augusto Acabou and Captain Wayne Brooks, Jr. tragically lost their lives while bravely battling a raging fire aboard a cargo ship at Port Newark on July 5. Their deaths garnered national attention, with even President Joe Biden expressing his condolences. However, the impact of this loss was felt most acutely in Newark, which is why they were specially honored during the liturgy.
In his homily, Cardinal Tobin reflected on the sacrifices made by these heroes, emphasizing that their selfless acts were not in vain. He stated, “(They) are at peace now because they are in the hands of God.” The Cardinal’s words resonated deeply with the attendees, providing solace and a sense of purpose in the face of such profound loss.
To learn more about the Archdiocese of Newark and its mission, please visit www.rcan.org. Serving the Catholic community with dedication, the Archdiocese covers Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, attending to the spiritual needs of 1.3 million Catholics. With 212 parishes, 73 Catholic schools, and a multitude of missions and ministries, the Archdiocese plays a vital role in the lives of the faithful. Under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., the sixth archbishop of Newark, the Archdiocese, together with its four auxiliary bishops, remains committed to serving the northern New Jersey community through the pillars of faith, education, and social services.
Video Highlights by Archdiocese of Newark/Jaimie Julia Winters
Photo Highlights by Archdiocese of Newark/Julio Eduardo Herrera:
1. Police officers from throughout New Jersey proceed into Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart before the Archdiocese of Newark’s 30th Annual Blue Mass on November 2, 2023.
2. Police bagpipers and drummers exit Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart following the Archdiocese of Newark’s 30th Annual Blue Mass on November 2, 2023.
3. Law enforcement personnel from across New Jersey pay tribute to 14 local police officers and firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Archdiocese of Newark’s 30th Annual Blue Mass on November 2, 2023.
4. Law enforcement personnel from across New Jersey honor 14 local police officers and firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Archdiocese of Newark’s 30th Annual Blue Mass on November 2, 2023.
5. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin greets police officers from across New Jersey following the Archdiocese of Newark’s 30th Annual Blue Mass on November 2, 2023.