Lisa Kochanowski
Freelance Writer
October 1, 2018 // Diocese

Red Masses planned in Fort Wayne, South Bend

Lisa Kochanowski
Freelance Writer

A Red Mass is a celebration for lawyers, judges and civil government officials. It is a renewal of a tradition in which God’s blessing is asked on all those who serve the law.

An ancient custom dating back to the 13th century, the Red Mass began with the solemn votive Mass celebrated annually at the opening of the judicial year. From the earliest of times, the Mass was attended by the judiciary, attorneys at law, law professors, high-ranking government officials, distinguished guests and others who work in the legal arena. The Mass was intended to gather them for the purpose of seeking divine guidance and strength for the coming terms of court.

The Red Mass is celebrated in honor of the Holy Spirit, from whom flows the wisdom, understanding, counsel, patience, energy and courage necessary for the administration of justice. Those who work in the legal profession prayerfully seek these virtues, which are essential to the courtroom, law practice, and public post.

Local associations of the St. Thomas More Society will host Red Masses in Fort Wayne on Oct. 2, at 5:30 p.m., at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and in South Bend on Oct. 8, at 5:15 p.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame.

In Fort Wayne, the Mass will be followed by a dinner at the Archbishop Noll Catholic Center, 915 S. Clinton St., with a presentation by O. Carter Snead, a professor of law at Notre Dame, titled “Remember the Body: Toward a More Human Public Bioethics.”

Snead is the William P. and Hazel B. White director of the Center for Ethics and Culture and concurrent professor of political science at Notre Dame. He is one of the world’s leading experts on public bioethics, which is the governance of science, medicine and technology in the name of ethical goods. He has published over 40 journal articles, book chapters and essays on abortion, embryo research, neuroethics, assisted reproduction, end-of-life decision-making, assisted suicide and euthanasia.

He has advised officials in all three branches of the federal government on matters of public bioethics and served as general counsel to President Bush’s Council on Bioethics. He led the U.S. delegation to the UNESCO and was its chief negotiator for bioethics-related treaties and conventions from 2003-05. He also served as the U.S. permanent observer to the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Bioethics from 2006-08. From 2008-12, the director general of UNESCO appointed him to a four-year term on the International Bioethics Committee. In 2016, Pope Francis appointed him to the Pontifical Academy for Life, which advises the Vatican on culture-of-life issues. He was recently appointed a Fellow of the Hastings Center, the oldest independent bioethics institute in the world.

“A little religion is good for your soul … It’s a nice reminder of the bigger purpose that needs to be served by attorneys, judges and those in public service. There is camaraderie between those present who share common goals,” noted Scott Hall, organizer of the Fort Wayne Red Mass.

In South Bend, the Red Mass will be followed by a reception in the Eck Commons of the Notre Dame Law School.

“We hope people will get at least three different things from this event,” said organizer Stephen Judge. “First and foremost, the grace of the Mass and the special prayers for lawyers and lawmakers. Second, the rich and deep history of the Red Mass helps to connect contemporary Catholic lawyers with a wonderful tradition dating back many centuries. Finally, the Mass and reception allow Catholic lawyers to connect with other members of the local legal community; our St. Thomas More Society is a young organization, and I hope those connections will help us grow.”

Registration for the events following the Red Masses is closed in Fort Wayne, but still open in South Bend: Guests can RSVP to [email protected]

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