Minnesota archbishop to preach at upcoming Phoenix Red Mass commemorating opening of legislative year

Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis will be the guest homilist for this year’s diocesan Red Mass, an annual event that draws lawyers, lawmakers, judges and public officials. (Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis)

On the heels of a bitter political season, an event that asks for God’s blessing on and guidance for elected officials, lawmakers, judges and lawyers takes place Jan. 24 at St. Mary’s Basilica.

The annual Red Mass, tracing its roots to Europe’s Middle Ages, is held each year at the opening of the legislative session. This year’s guest homilist is Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, named just nine months ago to lead the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will preside at the bilingual Mass. One of the highlights of the evening follows the liturgy, when lawyers in attendance rise to renew their oath of admission to the State Bar of Arizona.

Red Mass

5:30 p.m. Jan. 24
St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N. Third St.

Red Mass Breakfast

7:30 a.m. Jan. 25
Phoenix Country Club
$35; RSVP by Jan. 20:
sandracarolethomson@gmail.com

Click here for more information for either event.

Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic bishops of Arizona, said he hopes those involved in Arizona’s legal and political realm will attend the Red Mass. “It’s the time when we ask the Holy Spirit to be with us, especially our elected officials, as the legislative session begins,” Johnson said. “It’s always been an inspiring event for decades for those who’ve come.”

Now in its 47th year in the Diocese of Phoenix, the Red Mass frequently draws officials such as the governor and county attorney as well as a host of other elected leaders. A reception at the Diocesan Pastoral Center follows the Mass.

Christina Estes-Werther, president of the St. Thomas More Society, which helps organize the Red Mass, said the group will bestow the St. Thomas More award Jan. 25th at a 7:30 a.m. breakfast at the Phoenix Country Club. The award is given annually to a Christian person or organization that embodies the spirit of St. Thomas More, a lawyer renowned for his scholarship, service and deep faith which led to his martyrdom. This year’s recipient is Daniel P. Collins, Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Arizona.

“He and his family will be bringing up the gifts at the Mass,” Estes-Werther said. And while the liturgy is a momentous occasion each year for its spiritual significance, it’s also a means for those involved in the legal profession to enjoy a bit of camaraderie.

“It’s an opportunity for attorneys in the Phoenix area and also outside of Maricopa County to just come and engage in fellowship with each other,” Estes-Werther said.