It was a special Sunday on January 18 as parishioners of Saint Athanasius Church joined members of the New York City Police Department and the families of fallen Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu for a memorial mass held in the slain officers’ honor.
“It was an absolutely beautiful ceremony,” lauded local resident and parishioner Anna Cali stressing that close to 150 police officers from the 77th, 66th and 62nd Precincts attended the memorial, as well as members of the Ramos and Liu families. “In addition to it being a memorial mass for officers Liu and Ramos, it was also a mass to show that we support the NYPD.”
In the spirit of showing support, Cali said, the church handed out homemade blue buttons to police officers.
“We wanted to kind of combine it,” she said, calling the sermon by Monsignor David Cassato, a police chaplain, among the most wonderful parts of all. “He is such a wonderful speaker.”
The whole church – some brought to tears, others to their feet – seemed to agree.
“My brothers and sisters, Detective Liu and Detective Ramos are martyrs,” Cassato told the congregation. “Today we come to remember them.”
Liu, a 32-year-old newlywed from Bensonhurst and Ramos, a 40-year-old Sunset Park native, husband and father of two, were shot at point-blank range in their marked NYPD car on Saturday, December 20.
Just before the procession, all of Saint Athanasius gave the families – including Liu’s mother, dressed in an NYPD t-shirt – a standing ovation.