The Annual Red Mass for those who serve in law professions was celebrated Friday, October 7, 2011, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. The Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, CM, Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey, was Principal Celebrant and Homilist, at the invitation of the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, who was Principal Concelebrant at the Mass. Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese; Very Reverend Daniel Oschwald, Cathedral Rector; Father Salvatore Busichio, Vice Rector; and Msgr. Tim O’Connor, Pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Church, concelebrated.
In introducing and welcoming Bishop O’Connell to the Diocese, Bishop Burbidge noted that Bishop O’Connell holds a Doctorate in Canon Law and is past President of the Catholic University of America, a position he held for 12 years.
The Red Mass is a tradition with a long history in the Catholic Church, dating back to the 13th Century. The Red Mass invokes God’s blessing and the Holy Spirit’s guidance upon those charged with the pursuit of justice: judges, lawyers and legislators. Its term is derived from the red vestments traditionally worn to symbolize the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire that descended on the Apostles.
Among those attending were members of the judicial and legal professions, civic leaders and law enforcement officials. Those assisting in the planning process for the Red Mass were Judge Allyson Duncan, Judge Terrence Boyle, Judge Ann Marie Calabria, Judge Michael Dever, Judge Paul Gessner, Professor Kevin Lee and Mr. Tom Lindgren.
In his homily, Bishop O’Connell spoke of God being the starting point of all things. He told the members of the legal and judicial professions that theirs is a noble profession, a noble profession with a responsibility because it comes from God.
“If you believe in God,” Bishop O’Connell said, “you’ll have no difficulty in understanding the idea of law. If you believe that God created the world, then you’ll have no difficulty in understanding the purpose of law. And if you believe that God redeemed the world, then you’ll have no difficulty in understanding the necessity of law.”
Bishop O’Connell expressed his concern that our nation is losing its way, noting that the founders recognized our reliance on God. He said our founding principles are being challenged today, citing as an example that respect for life is looked upon by some as simply a religious notion.
“If we believe that God created the world,” Bishop O’Connell concluded, “then let law and justice protect that conscience the ensures that every human right is seen as rooted in God, our Creator. If we believe it is possible to be redeemed through God’s light and through justice, then let us let the law be something that binds us and obliges us all to one another as we live our lives in the freedom of the Lord.”
View photo gallery
Watch Bishop O’Connell’s homily (Windows Media)
Above: Bishop David M. O’Connell, CM, celebrating annual Red Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Also pictured, Deacon Michael Alig (far left); Bishop Michael F. Burbidge; Father Daniel Oschwald, Rector; and Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese.