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2018 Red Mass

2018 Red Mass

Bishop Robert P. Deeley will serve as the principal celebrant and homilist at the annual Red Mass on Sunday, September 30, at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.

Judges, lawyers, canonists, government officials, and people of all faiths are invited to attend the annual Mass. The bishop will ask for God’s blessing upon those who serve in the legal profession and public service and for God's guidance in the administration of justice.

“By gathering together at the Red Mass, we will see the practice of the law as service, as our way of bringing God’s love into our world,” said Bishop Deeley. “By so doing, we will witness to the truth which is Jesus Christ, who is the bearer of God’s love, and we will change the world we live in as we faithfully pursue justice.”

Bishop Deeley himself has an extensive background in the legal field. In 1978, with his appointment as Secretary to the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Boston, he began a ministry in the Tribunal which would last for over 20 years, including ten years as Judicial Vicar. He assumed the presidency of the Canon Law Society of America in 2000 and served at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome from 2004-2011. The bishop earned both a Licentiate of Canon Law degree in 1983 and a Doctor of Canon Law degree (summa cum laude) in 1986 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In October of 2016, the bishop was named the recipient of the “Role of Law Award,” the Canon Law Society of America’s most prestigious honor and, in November of 2016, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) elected Bishop Deeley as the new chairman-elect of the USCCB’s Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance.

The Red Mass is a tradition that dates back to the early Middle Ages when Pope Innocent IV is said to have invited the Ecclesiastical Judicial Court in 1243 to gather to ask God’s blessing through the invocation of the Holy Spirit on the work that would be conducted in the court. It is usually held to commemorate the official opening of the judicial year.

The red vestments worn by celebrants symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit and are reminiscent of the traditional bright scarlet robes worn by the attending royal judges centuries ago.

A reception will follow in the narthex. No registration is required.

For more information, contact Suzanne Lafreniere, director of public policy for the diocese, at
(207) 773-6471 or suzanne.lafreniere@portlanddiocese.org.


2017 Red Mass Recap

“We cannot be Catholic on Sunday, and allow our culture to make our decisions
from Monday to Saturday. What we pray for today, in all humility, is that the Holy Spirit will
give us the light of faith so that we will have guidance for the work of justice that we do.”
---Bishop Deeley

LEWISTON---Judges, lawyers, canonists, and government officials gathered at the Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul on Friday, October 13, as Bishop Robert Deeley, J.C.D., celebrated the Red Mass, asking for God’s blessing upon those who work in the legal profession, their service to the common good, and the pursuit of justice.

“Our prayer asks that we will be enabled, through the grace of God and the guidance of the Spirit, to seek to bring God’s justice into our decisions, opinions, briefs and lectures,” said the bishop to those assembled. “Our prayer is one of humility. It acknowledges that we are created by God and in need of his presence in our life. It is an act of faith.”

The Red Mass is a tradition that dates back to the early Middle Ages when Pope Innocent IV is said to have invited the Ecclesiastical Judicial Court in 1243 to gather to ask God’s blessing through the invocation of the Holy Spirit on the work that would be conducted in the court. Bishop Deeley wore red signifying the fire of the Holy Spirit's guidance to all who pursue justice in their daily lives.

During his homily, the bishop made mention of the fact that 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, a turning point in history that ultimately led to the idea of the “freedom of religion,” allowing each individual to determine his or her religious beliefs, not the state. Bishop Deeley warned against the “privatization of religion,” which can run counter to being guided by faith in the public sphere.

“Faith connects to life. Faith governs the decisions and choices I make. Faith forms my opinions and guides my actions,” said the bishop. “It informs what we do, what we say, and how we treat one another. We cannot be Catholic on Sunday, and allow our culture to make our decisions from Monday to Saturday. What we pray for today, in all humility, is that the Holy Spirit will give us the light of faith so that we will have guidance for the work of justice that we do.”

In addition to the bishop, many of the other participants in the Mass are connected to the legal profession. Attorney Estelle Lavoie served as the reader while another attorney, Daniel Mitchell, and Christopher Siuzdak, a canonist, served as gift bearers. Monsignor Paul Stefanko, J.C.L., the judicial vicar of the diocesan tribunal, and Fr. Jack Dickinson, J.C.L., adjunct judicial vicar of the diocesan tribunal, were among the concelebrants of the Mass.