NEWARK, N.J. – It was a moment to step back, honor, pray and reflect in the midst of an emotional week for police in Newark.

On Thursday, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart hosted its 29th annual Blue Mass, where leaders, including Gov. Phil Murphy, honored the service and sacrifice of police officers — active, retired and deceased. 

Two Newark officers, who are recovering after being shot in the city earlier this week, were on the minds of many in attendance. One officer has already been discharged from the hospital. The suspect is in custody. 

“These two brave officers were out there doing their job,” said NJ Transit Police Chief Christopher Trucillo. “They knew the danger they, perhaps, were going to, and that didn’t deter them from their duty and responsibility.”

Several local fallen police officers were honored during the mass. Anthony Vavaro, a Port Authority police officer who was killed by a wrong-way driver on the New Jersey Turnpike as he was heading to a 9/11 memorial ceremony, was among those honored. He was 37 years old and left behind a wife and four children.

“He was a Major League Baseball player, and he had a passion to be a police officer,” said PAPD Superintendent Edward Cetnar. “It holds a special place in the Port Authority’s heart what Anthony did in his commitment to service.”

Also honored were officers who died from COVID-19. 

“They have a difficult but also very beautiful mission,” said Archdiocese of Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin. “I hope that their time here and their time together gives them the strength and also that they realize the great support they have in the community.”