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Bishop Burbidge celebrates Red Mass


The Annual Red Mass, which offers prayers and gratitude for all who serve in the legal and judicial professions, was celebrated Friday, Oct. 21, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge was the principal celebrant and homilist. Monsignor David D. Brockman, Father Edward Wolanski, C.P., Father Joseph Oji and Monsignor Jeffrey Ingham concelebrated.

Judges and attorneys from throughout the diocese, as well as students from St. Thomas More Academy, were among those who attended.

The Red Mass is a tradition with a long history in the Catholic Church, dating back to the 13th Century when it officially opened the term of court for most European countries. It was introduced in the United States in 1928 in the Church of St. Andrew in New York City.

In the United States, the Red Mass is celebrated in most state capitals and major cities. It invokes God’s blessing and guidance upon men and women who are judges, attorneys, members of the legal community, government officials and those involved in legal and judicial studies. The Red Mass received its name from the red vestments traditionally worn to symbolize the tongues of fire that appeared when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles at Pentecost.

Bishop Burbidge said in his homily, “You know that it is essential to acknowledge the primacy of God in your life and in your service to humanity. In other words, you have heeded the words of the prophet Micah in our First Reading who tells us ‘to walk humbly with God.’”

Bishop Burbidge continued: “Today, in a special way, you entrust all your endeavors to Jesus who, in today’s Gospel, promises that His Holy Spirit, the Advocate, will be with you always. It is this gift that allows you to imitate the courageous witness of Thomas More, who knew no fear.”    

“Dear friends, strengthened by the gift of the Holy Eucharist and through the intercession of Saint Thomas More, be renewed in your promises to be faithful servants of truth, justice and the common good, who walk humbly with God, ever confident that the Holy Spirit abides within you. So with profound confidence in God’s grace, go forth and be sure to travel lightly.”

A reception at Campbell Law School followed the Mass.

Read Bishop Burbidge's homily