Living Your Faith at Work

From LifeSiteNews comes a story that sprung up some disparate comments in a Catholic Men’s I’m a part of on Facebook:

Catholic police officer gets suspended for going to Church while on duty

Officer Mark Hovan.

MIDDLETOWN, Pennsylvania, December 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A Pennsylvania police officer has been suspended for ten days for going to Catholic Mass on a day of obligation while on duty and in uniform.

Officer Mark Hovan, a 20- year veteran of the Middletown, Pa., police department, attended Mass in uniform on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a holy day of obligation for Catholics.

As a kid, I sometimes found myself wondering why I was in class on holy days of obligation like the Feast of the Assumption whereas non-Chrisitan friends would take time in observance of their religious holidays. The reasonable religious accommodation for my non-Christian pals always made me a little jealous because I knew better than to try to use a particular holy day of obligation as an excuse to be absent or otherwise.

As an adult and revert to the faith, I see there were a couple of reasons aside from the Holy Spirit and my guardian angel making sure I didn’t commit additional sin.

Jesus and His Holy Church teach us that while it’s important to maintain the holy days, you’re not obliged to observe them when there’s  a right reason such as illness or work. That in mind, we are to observe these days when and how we can right?

So this brings up the article I’m commenting on today.

Here we have an on-duty law enforcement officer (LEO) who decides to observe his holy day obligation while on duty. It’s not the first time he’s done so and it’s never been an issue (people know where he is and he’s never missed a call, etc.) in the past up until the new chief came in town.

When the new chief comes in he’s apparently not a fan of this action and previously reprimanded the LEO in this article for attending mass. That has me asking two questions:

  1. Did the chief also impose the same “policy” for other LEOs in his department?
  2. Why didn’t the LEO in question file a complaint or some other formal appeal (at least it’s not reported if he did)?

Beyond that, I’d say let’s delve a little into the details that many Christians can appreciate:

  • If many non-Christian religions have accommodations made for them to observe the tenants of their faith then why couldn’t one be made for this LEO? A good leader, especially in public service should find a way to encourage and support their subordinates by proposing reasonable solutions, i.e., make up the time, have someone cover them, etc.
  • Seeing that this LEO could, in good conscience, not attend Mass, why did he?
  • While we Christians are given the grace by God to not fulfill the obligations of these days due to just reasons, why is it that we must always bear the burden of sacrificing our observance?

My prayers go out to this LEO because of his service to our community and commitment to our faith but I think this ultimately a missed opportunity for him to evangelize through word and deed, explaining to his new chief the importance of his faith and faithfully carrying out the new chief’s orders even if they weren’t supportive.

I’ll also state that the new chief missed a great opportunity to earn the trust and respect of this LEO and likely others by leading the department through service rather than decree. You see, LEOs are never really off duty, especially when in uniform, so going to Mass is no less a burden than eating lunch. The chief should’ve voluntarily acknowledged this and reassured this LEO under his command that he was free and encouraged to be a positive presence in the community so long as dispatch continued to know his whereabouts and that he fulfilled his obligations to the community the same way the LEO was doing for God and His Holy Church.

Feel free to chime in with your respectful, thoughtful comments on the issue. God bless.

Featured image originally from Shutterstock via the report on LifeSiteNews.

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