By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON — No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Deacon Jeff Schuetzle read this Gospel passage during the Blue Mass at Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish on Aug. 29, which honored firefighters, peace officers, medics and first responders.
It’s a message that Clinton-area residents know all too well. In January, an explosion took the life of Eric Hosette, a lieutenant with the Clinton Fire Department, as he was battling a fire in a silo at the ADM Grain Facility. Firefighter Adam Cain, a member of Assumption & St. Patrick Parish in Charlotte, was critically injured in the blast, having fallen nearly 90 feet.
Seven months later, Cain served as a gift bearer at the Blue Mass, walking down the aisle as his family, community members and local first responders looked on.
“We are very happy Adam is here tonight,” said Father Ken Kuntz, pastor of the Clinton parish.
“It’s a miracle from God,” echoed Brenda Bertram, the parish’s director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry.
“His survival? There is no other explanation but divine intervention,” said Adam Cain’s mother, Lynn Cain. “There’s no way you survive an ordeal like that without miracles. …I still look at him and feel amazed that he’s here.”
Her 23-year-old son spent two weeks in intensive care after the explosion, having sustained injuries to his lungs, back, ribs, arms and internal organs. People in Clinton and the surrounding communities were eager to show support, said Adam’s father, Kevin Cain. “All we asked for were prayers” for Adam’s recovery and for the Hosette family. Local parishes held prayer vigils, and individuals from coast to coast prayed and shared words of encouragement. “It was just phenomenal,” said Kevin Cain, a retired Clinton County Sheriff’s deputy. “I don’t know how we would have gotten through this without our faith,” his wife added.
Adam Cain said the support has been “amazing. It’s very humbling to see a big community come together like this and act like a small one.”
This is the second year the Clinton parish has hosted a Blue Mass to pray for the protection and safety of all who accept the responsibility to keep the people they serve safe and healthy.
Public servants from about 15 local departments were honored at Mass, which was concelebrated by Father John Stack, parochial vicar of the Clinton parish; Father Stephen Page, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in DeWitt; and Father Matthew Camaioni, parochial vicar of Immaculate Conception Parish in Fulton, Ill. Knights of Columbus from parishes in Lost Nation, DeWitt, Clinton and Long Grove were on hand to show support, as well. Guests could see fire trucks from local departments and a med-force helicopter in the parking lot. Prior to Mass, Clinton firefighters raised an American flag on a ladder truck.
“Today we thank God for all of you who do so much to make a difference for the many, many people that you serve, even at the risk of giving your own lives,” Fr. Kuntz said to the first responders during his homily. “You are the ones who are willing to give everything for people you don’t even know.”
“It’s such a privilege to be served and protected by you,” Fr. Stack said.