Red Mass nets largest draw in years with Archbishop Hebda presiding

| October 10, 2017 | 1 Comment

From left, Peter, Paul, Anne and Ellen Hendricks of Lumen Chrisit in St. Paul pray during the Red Mass Oct. 7 at Assumption in St. Paul for lawyers, judges and others working in the legal profession. Archbishop Bernard Hebda celebrated the Mass, along with the pastor of Assumption, Father Paul Treacy. Peter Hendricks is an attorney with the law firm Maser, Amundson, Boggio & Hendricks.
Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Having preached at Red Masses for law professionals around the country, Archbishop Bernard Hebda celebrated Mass for members of the bench and bar in the Twin Cities for the first time Oct. 7 at Assumption in St. Paul.

Archbishop Hebda has preached at Red Masses in Washington, D.C., and Phoenix in the past year. He practiced law before becoming a priest, and then became a canon lawyer.

“It’s helpful to have somebody who was a lawyer [preside], because he understands what lawyers go through,” said Brian McMahon, president of the Lawyers Guild of St. Thomas More in the Twin Cities.

McMahon, a legal recruiter and parishioner of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul, helped organize the Mass with a team of people from the guild. Comprised of legal professionals, the guild offers opportunities for network among Catholics serving in the legal field.

The Red Mass, a tradition the Church began in the Middle Ages to support legal professionals, has been going on annually in the United States since 1912. The celebrant wears red liturgical vestments since the Red Mass is a solemn votive Mass of the Holy Spirit.

“On our own it’s so difficult,” Archbishop Hebda said of the legal profession. “That’s why it’s been a tradition for so long that we would begin the [legal] year with this Red Mass with this opportunity to invoke the Holy Spirit; to ask that the Spirit might be the one who guides us in trying to bring order into the chaos of the vineyard.”

Archbishop Hebda explained that the Holy Spirit is called the “Advocate,” from the Greek word “Paraclete,” he provides the right words to say as a lawyer of the defense, or paraclete, would do.

“We have to trust that the Holy Spirit wants to be involved with us in that way,” Archbishop Hebda said.

More than 70 people, including law professionals and their families, attended the evening Mass. Archbishop Hebda related the Sunday Mass readings on caring for the vineyard, the kingdom of God, to their work in the legal field. He told them they have an “incredible opportunity in our society to do good with the training that we’ve received.”

He also posed the question “are we the people who are going to produce great fruit in the Lord’s vineyard?”

The guild has been bearing fruit in terms of numerical growth, including doubled attendance for the Red Mass this year as announced at the reception following the Mass. Past president Susan Buckley had been making strides to revive the organization in recent years through improved networking. An attorney in St. Paul, Buckley hopes the guild can collaborate more with faith-based legal groups at law schools in the Twin Cities.

“I was inspired to volunteer my time to the guild because I believe it is important for the Minnesota legal community to have a Red Mass each year,” said Buckley, also a parishioner of Nativity of Our Lord. “I am inspired also because many lawyers, judges and academics strive to exemplify the ideals of St. Thomas More. Those lawyers and judges show exemplary service to the community and have demonstrated courage while facing adversity, which serves as a source of encouragement to the bench and bar. ”

Archbishop Hebda mentioned the value of such organizations, as he was involved in the St. Thomas More Society in Pittsburgh when he practiced law. He said that he was moved by the witness of others in the legal field who participated in the society.

He noted particularly the senior lawyers he knew who “were enriching their faith life so that they might find the strength that they need to go forth into the workplace, and to be those men and women of virtue to able to carry out the Lord’s work, recognizing that they were the tenants and not the owners of all that God had given to them.”

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  • Jane

    Very interesting and great to know! I am a cradle Catholic, but had never heard of the Red Mass before. Love it!