SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the legal and criminal justice fields will be celebrated at a Mass on Oct. 11 in the Cathedral of the Madeleine, with Bishop Oscar A. Solis as the celebrant. The Red Mass, which is rich in history and symbolism, is named for the red vestments traditionally worn by the clergy, which symbolize the Holy Spirit. The tradition of the Red Mass began in Europe during the Middle Ages as a way for those in the law and criminal justice professions to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in dispensing justice.
“Everybody is welcome to attend the Red Mass,” said Michael Kennedy, an attorney and a member of the local St. Thomas More Society, which organizes the Red Mass. “Utah is pretty diverse in its beliefs, and the Red Mass is a wonderful way to bring us all together to see what unites us.” Kennedy noted that the Mass typically attracts not only members of the Catholic Church, but also The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faithful, leaders of the Episcopal Church as well as members of the Islamic community, among others.
The Red Mass also draws individuals from a cross-section of professions, such as prosecutors and defense attorneys, judges, police and civil lawyers, Kennedy said. “We encourage people to come together and leave behind the confines of their everyday roles, which are often contentious. The Mass provides a healing way for us to see how we can work together.”
This will be the first time that Bishop Oscar A. Solis will celebrate the Red Mass since his installation as the tenth Bishop of Salt Lake City.
“We’re excited that Bishop Solis will be able to celebrate the Mass,” said Ronald Yengich, an attorney and organizer of the first local Red Mass, which was celebrated in Salt Lake City in 2008. “Having the bishop celebrate will be special for those who haven’t met him or observed him at Mass. Attendees will also have an opportunity to meet with Bishop Solis afterwards.”
Yengich also noted that choristers from the Madeleine Choir School will provide the music ministry at the Mass.
As in past years, the Mass will have a roll call to remember lawyers, judges, police officers and others in the justice system and the military who have passed away.
“Unfortunately, we have a rather long list this year,” said Yengich. “We lost a lot of attorneys and police officers, and we want to give them the recognition they deserve.”
The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral of Paris in 1245. It spread to other European countries. Around 1310, the tradition began in England during the reign of Edward II, with the Red Mass celebrating the opening of each term of Court by all members of the bench and bar. The tradition was introduced in the U.S. in 1928 at the Church of St. Andrew in New York City.
The St. Thomas More Society is named after St. Thomas More (1478-1535), an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and Renaissance humanist who is venerated by the Catholic Church. He was martyred in 16th-century England because he refused to swear allegiance to King Henry VIII as Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
WHAT: Red Mass
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 11, noon
WHERE: Cathedral of the Madeleine, 309 E. South Temple, SLC
Bishop Oscar A. Solis will preside. Free and open to the public, who are invited to join this celebration honoring lawyers, judges, law enforcement, military and all those who are involved in the legal profession and the justice system.