The annual Requiem Mass for All Deceased Police Officers was celebrated on 6 November in Westminster Cathedral by Canon Paschal Ryan to remember all the police officers nationally who have fallen in the line of duty or passed away in the last year.
At the beginning of Mass, a police helmet of a fallen officer was placed in front of the altar as a sober reminder of the personal sacrifice that the police force makes.
In his homily, Canon Ryan remembered fondly his own relationship with the Metropolitan Police in years gone by. He told the congregation that his grandfather had been a Constable and shared the story of a Good Friday procession. He had helped to organise one in St John’s Wood in the 1980s and the police presence unsettled a visiting Polish priest because of the crackdown of religion under the Communist regime. But he was surprised and uplifted to see the police working alongside Catholics and allowing them to express their faith on the streets of a very multi-cultural area.
He reminded the police officers that, like priests, they both should strive to live out the values expected of their position.
‘In the Catholic tradition we talk about an “examination of conscience”. At its best this is a daily checking looking at one’s own life and asking oneself: “Does my life match the oath, the promise I have made?” No priest, no police officer is ever perfect.’
He encouraged the officers to support one another in the line of service.
‘Sometimes, unfortunately, even those who intend to live out their lives in the highest of traditions can fail and can fall short of what is rightly expected of them. Sometimes we can pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down, no one is the wiser. Sometimes we need a friend to put us right. Please don’t be afraid to be that friend.’
The readings were read by Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne and Chief Superintendent David Stringer of the Metropolitan Police Service. Police Constable Andrew Nattrass, Chair of the Catholic Police Guild, led the bidding prayers where he listed the officers who had passed away in the last year. The Metropolitan Police Male Voice Choir led the music from the apse of the Cathedral.