Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., will serve as principal celebrant of the second annual Monmouth County Red Mass at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 1 in St. Michael Church, West End. The Mass is open to all individuals, especially all those who seek and administer justice through their service as judges, lawyers, law professors and their students, as well as government officials in the legislative and executive branches.
The origins of a Red Mass, which honors all those in the legal profession, dates to the Middle Ages. It derives its name from the color of the liturgical vestments worn by the clergy, red symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit, and also evokes the English tradition of the color of the academic robes and hoods of individuals who have earned a degree in law. In the United States, the Red Mass is traditionally offered the Sunday before the first Monday of October, the opening of the judicial term of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Music at the Mass will be provided by the Red Bank Catholic High School Chamber Choir under the direction of Shawn Mack. The Honorable Lawrence M. Lawson, retired Monmouth County Assignment Judge of the N.J. Superior Court, will read the roll of recently deceased members of the Monmouth County Bar at the conclusion of the Prayer of the Faithful.
The Mass will be followed by a reception at the San Alfonso Retreat House, across the street from St. Michael Church.
Among the concelebrating priests will be Father John Butler, pastor of St. Michael Parish, who practiced as a corporate lawyer before entering the seminary in 2009.
“The Red Mass makes the point very clearly, visibly, and powerfully that Church and State (faith and law) can, and should, and do work together,” Father Butler said. “It is important as a reminder of those things for lawyers and the entire legal community, as well as for the parish and the community at large. It will also serve as a source of inspiration and energy to help put the gifts of the Holy Spirit to work in the legal world and everywhere in the world.”
For more information on the Red Mass, call the parish office at 732-222-8080. St. Michael Parish is at 800 Ocean Ave., West End.