Lawyers, elected officials, canonists and judges will gather Jan. 14 at St. Mary’s Basilica to take part in the annual “Red Mass,” sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society and the Diocese of Phoenix.
Tom Giallanza, of the St. Thomas More Society, in his sixth year on its board, said that this year’s invited homilist, retired Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of the Diocese of Las Cruces, N.M., will touch on issues which are both timely and important.
“It’s always heartening when you see the church full of wonderful people that get to listen to the message the homilist brings us,” Giallanza said. “We invite members of all faiths to attend the Mass and the reception afterwards at the Diocesan Pastoral Center.”
The event “will help us focus on some of the issues that touch on the lives of many around us and it’s a good way to start out not only the legislative session, but our new year as well,” Giallanza said.
Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, the legislative arm of the three Arizona Roman Catholic dioceses and the Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Eparchy, said the Red Mass is a key event for those concerned with the law.
[quote_box_left]Membership in the St. Thomas More Society is primarily for lawyers, but is also open to others interested in the law such as paralegals. For more information, visit Arizona Catholic Conference or call (602) 354-2391.[/quote_box_left]“It’s important for Catholic lawyers in particular to attend events like the Red Mass to really focus on their faith and be Catholics in the public square, as Bishop Olmsted would say, because it’s important to live their faith in whatever they’re doing,” Johnson said. “The Red Mass is certainly a great opportunity for all lawyers — not just Catholic lawyers — as well as elected officials and judges to really focus on how they can fulfill their vocations as lawyers and lay people to the fullest potential.”
This year’s homilist, Bishop Ramirez, retired as bishop of Las Cruces, N.M., last January. Born in Texas to migrant farm workers, Bishop Ramirez joined the Congregation of St. Basil and was ordained to the priesthood in 1966.
Bishop Ramirez has served on many committees within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including the international policy, liturgy, Catholic Common Ground Initiative, and the Hispanic affairs committees. He formerly chaired the Committee on the Church in Latin America and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
In 2011, Bishop Ramirez presented “Eucharist without Borders: The Church’s Vision for Immigration Reform,” at the Celebration Conference for Effective Liturgy held in San Antonio.
When: 5:30 p.m., Jan. 14
Where: St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004 [/quote_box_left]In his presentation, Bishop Ramirez spoke of the many challenges facing immigrants, whom he described as “courageous, intelligent and willing to sacrifice the comfort of their homeland, their native language and human support system and uproot themselves in search of a better life for themselves and their children.” The newcomers bring a strong, faith-driven values, he said, and often suffer years of separation from loved ones.
“We, as a Catholic community, directly witness the human consequences of a broken system each day, when immigrant families come to pastors and lay ministers for help for someone who has been detained or deported. The best way we can really help these families, and keep them together, is by changing our immigration laws,” Bishop Ramirez said. “The U.S. bishops do not support ‘open borders,’ but support generous, but reasonable, immigration policies that serve the common good.”
The first Red Mass was celebrated in 13th century France and later spread to England and other European countries. The Mass seeks the guidance of the Holy Spirit for those who deal with the law. Lawyers in attendance at the annual Red Mass in Phoenix are asked to renew their oath to uphold the legal ethical principles.