FALL RIVER — In 1997, while serving as Bishop of the Fall River Diocese, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., inaugurated a Red Mass to invoke the Holy Spirit’s guidance and strength on those working in areas of law and justice.

With hopes of it becoming a diocesan tradition, then-Bishop O’Malley’s wishes became reality, and on September 24 he will celebrate the 20th annual Red Mass in the Fall River Diocese at 4 p.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fall River.

Judges, attorneys and others working in the justice system throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands are invited to attend as are law professors and students of law.

The Red Mass has a long history in the Catholic Church, originating in 13th-century Europe, its name coming from the color vestments customarily worn by the celebrants. Currently, Red Masses are commonly celebrated across the U.S.

In what is unique to the Red Mass tradition in the Fall River Diocese, the Mass will conclude with the presentation of the St. Thomas More Award to members of the area legal community to recognize dedicated service.

Selected for the honors this year are, as distinguished jurist, Judge Kathryn E. Hand, First Justice, Barnstable District Court; as distinguished attorney, Frank C. Corso, Corso Law, LLC, Rehoboth; as distinguished court employee, Michael Borden, Probation Department, Fall River Division of the Trial Court; as distinguished recipient of the ecumenical award, attorney Margaret Xifaras, Lang, Xiafaras & Bullard Law, New Bedford; and as distinguished recipient of the Joseph P. Harrington Founder’s Award, Rev. Jay T. Maddock, pastor of Holy Name Parish, Fall River.

Recipients were nominated for the award by the Red Mass planning committee of judges, attorneys, court personnel and priests from across the diocese, headed by New Bedford attorney Michael J. Harrington.

The award is named for St. Thomas More, an English layman and lawyer of the 16th century, who was executed for his opposition to the request of King Henry VIII for a divorce, and for refusal to renounce papal authority.


Judge Hand presides at Massachusetts Trial Court, District Court Department in Barnstable. Her roles at the Barnstable location include: Regional Administrative Justice, Region I; Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Southern District; Supreme Judicial Court Access to Justice Commission; Supreme Judicial Court Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure; Acting First Justice, Nantucket District Court; District Court Civil Proceedings Committee member; and New Judge Mentor of the District Court Mentoring Program.

She is the former Norfolk County district attorney in Dedham.

She attended Boston College School of Law and Harvard University.

Judge Hand has served on numerous committees and has been a faculty member of a number of universities, institutes and conferences. She is also the co-author, with Patricia L. Kelley, Esq., of “Emotional Distress,” Massachusetts Tort Handbook, MCLE.

She is a parishioner of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Centerville.


Attorney Corso leads Corso Law, LLC, with offices in Rehoboth and Boston.

In Martindale & Hubbell and other ratings he was named AV (highest), Massachusetts Super Lawyer, and Boston magazine’s Top Lawyers in Massachusetts.

He was admitted to practice in Massachusetts, and for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in 1985, and for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1991.

He is admitted Pro Hac Vice for Trial in the courts of N.Y. (state and federal courts), Conn., N.H., R.I., and Fla.

He has experience in catastrophic injury and wrongful death trial and appeal in all Massachusetts state and federal courts; before local land use authorities; and general corporate practice counseling with a diverse business clientele.

He received a Juris Doctorate from the New England School of Law in Boston, and attended State University of N.Y. and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He was editor of New England Law Review, was New England Scholar, and received the Amos L. Taylor Award for Excellence in Academic Achievement.

He has taught at New England School of Law and Massachusetts School of Law.

Attorney Corso is credited with several publications and is or has been a member of a number of Massachusetts law academies and associations. He is also the recipient of the first-ever Robert Morris Award for Courageous Advocacy presented by the American Board of Trial Advocates.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., he and his wife currently reside in Rehoboth and attend Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk. They have five children.


Michael Borden has served as a probation officer in the Fall River Division of the Trial Court for the past 20 years.

In 2006 he was recognized by the Commissioner of Probation for exemplary work in the community and dedication to the profession. That same year he initiated Project Lights Out, which tracks sex offenders on Halloween to ensure the safety of the community.

He has been a team leader of the Probation Warrant Apprehension Team for the past 15 years. He was recognized last year by the National Alliance of Mental Illness for outstanding service with the mentally ill.

He is a longstanding member and volunteer of Southcoast YMCA, and for years has been involved with distributing Thanksgiving baskets and working with a Christmas Toy drive. He was the Fall River YMCA Volunteer of the Year in 2015.

He and his wife Gail reside in Fall River and are members of St. Michael Parish.


Attorney Xifaras is a partner in the law firm of Lang, Xiafaras & Bullard in New Bedford, with a general practice of civil litigation with special emphasis on family law, wills, trusts and estates; as well as consumer protection and small business organization.

She attended Boston University School of Law, receiving the Book Award for Highest Grade in Criminal Procedure and Publication Award for Highest Grade in Judicial Interns.

Xifaras also earned degress from Southeastern Mass. University (now U-Mass Dartmouth), Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the University of Illinois.

She has served as Special Assistant to the Governor (Governor Michael Dukakis); Special Assistant District Attorney, Bristol County; Regional Administration Assistant, Congressman Gerry Studs; and as a private attorney.

Xifaras has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Malawi, South Central Africa.

She was named Southcoast Woman of the Year for advocacy related to UMass School of Law; was program president of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation; and has served on various panels and committees.

In the community, Xifaras is a board member and officer for Southcoast YMCA; a contributor and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity; and received community service awards from the Bristol County Bar Association and the Big Sister Association.

She is married with three children and six grandchildren. 


Father Maddock is pastor of Holy Name Parish and pastoral administrator of St. Bernadette’s Parish, both in Fall River.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Fall River by Bishop Daniel A. Cronin on Aug. 2, 1975.

He received a licentiate in canon law in 1979 from the Gregorian University in Rome and worked in parishes and in the Chancery Office and Diocesan Tribunal. Bishop Cronin appointed him Judicial Vicar of the diocese in 1989.

Father Maddock dedicated 21 years of his priesthood to service at the Tribunal, all the while serving at various parishes in the diocese. He stepped down as Judicial Vicar in 2001, and continues to assist in Tribunal work today.

One of Father Maddock’s passions has been serving as director of the diocesan Catholic Youth Organization since 1986. He has served several terms on the Priests Personnel Board, and is currently a member of the Presbyteral Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council.

Father Maddock was dean of the Taunton Deanery from 2003-2010, and has been dean of the Fall River Deanery since 2010. He also represents the bishop at certain events when requested to do so.

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.

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