FALL RIVER – Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., will return to the Fall River Diocese to serve as principal celebrant and homilist for the 20th annual Red Mass at 4 p.m., Saturday, September 24, in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fall River.
It was Cardinal O’Malley who while serving as bishop of Fall River in 1997 instituted the Red Mass in the diocese and celebrated the inaugural one with the hope that it would become an annual tradition.
The Red Mass is the popular name for the Mass of the Holy Spirit offered to invoke God’s guidance and strength on those working in the areas of law and justice. Its origins go back to 13th-century Europe; its name is derived from the color of the vestments customarily worn by the celebrants. Today, the Mass is widely celebrated in dioceses throughout the U.S. and beyond.
Judges, attorneys, court personnel and others working to provide justice in the legal system from Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands are invited to attend as are law professors and students of law.
Leading a planning committee is New Bedford Attorney Michael Harrington who explained that members thought it a fitting year to invite Cardinal O’Malley back to celebrate the Mass, and that Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., quickly concurred.
“Knowing that this is the 20th Red Mass observance, the committee agreed it was the opportune moment to bring back the bishop who started it,” he said.
“The Red Mass has become an important tradition. It’s a much needed opportunity for judges, lawyers, court workers -all of us- to gather off the bench, out of court, out of our offices, to think about the bigger picture, about what we do and its impact. I think that is why my Uncle Joe [late New Bedford Attorney Joseph Harrington], who was the Red Mass chairman for so many of its years until his death, and now I remain so committed to it. And gratefully, with the strong support of first Bishop O’Malley, then Bishop Coleman, and now Bishop da Cunha, the Red Mass has continued each year,” he shared.
Unique to the Red Mass celebration in the Fall River Diocese is the presentation of the St. Thomas More Awards at the conclusion of Mass to members of the area legal community to recognize dedicated service.
Harrington pointed out that the awards have an ecumenical dimension, which draws persons of different faiths to take part in the Red Mass celebration.
The names of this year’s St. Thomas More Awards will be announced in the coming weeks.
All are welcome to the Red Mass. A reception and dinner will follow for which a ticket is required. For information, please contact Atty. Harrington at 508-994-5900.