Saturday, February 29, 2020

Christening a New Fire Truck? There’s a Catholic Blessing for That

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When the fire station in Blanco, NM received a new fire truck, their traditional truck christening ritual involved a “push-in”, a prayer, and a blessing from local Catholic Deacon Pat Valdez.

Deacon Valdez serves at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Blanco, New Mexico, which sits right next door to Blanco Fire Station 1. The two entities have a good relationship – the firefighters have helped to safely burn weeds on church property, and Deacon Valdez often blesses new fire equipment.

On Sunday, October 27, the Fire Station welcomed their new fire truck with a fall festival hosted by the San Juan County Fire Department. The county’s designated chaplain said a prayer for the firefighters, and Deacon Valdez gave the “Blessing for a Fire Engine”, written in the Book of Blessings used by Catholic Clergy.

“God, the just and loving ruler of mankind, to whom as its Creator your creature, fire, is so readily subject that on the one hand it blazes out to torment the impious, and on the other it burns lightly to serve the needs of the devout; kindly hear our prayers, and pour out your blessing on this fire-engine. Whenever this efficient tool is used with lively faith and fervent prayers against the ravages of fire, may the stream of water gushing forth from it extinguish the roaring flames, completely wiping out their destructive force, so that no injury befalls the faithful who trust in you, and no damage is done to their possessions. Thus may it come about that all who experience your protection against the fright and dangers of fire will turn away from sin with all their heart, and, mindful of your benefits, sincerely acknowledge that such visitations are a consequence of their sinful ways, and cease only when you deign to show your mercy; through Christ our Lord.”

During the blessing, the station’s firefighters laid their hands on the new vehicle.

“All the firefighters there join in – they have a ritual that they use themselves whenever they’re dedicating a new firetruck,” Valdez said. “Whenever the blessing is going on, they touch the piece of equipment, the truck itself.”

After the blessing with Holy Water, the firefighters all took part in a the traditional “push-in” ceremony, pushing the truck by hand back into the bay.

This ceremony done, Deacon Valdez said he’s always ready and willing to participate when asked by the firefighters.

“Knowing that the firefighters themselves are asking for blessings from a higher power, from God Himself who has given them this talent and their service comes not just from within or from the community but from God Himself,” he said. “They recognize that what they have is from God and they’re ready to give that to the community.”

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