An outspoken bishop affectionately known as the “Holy Goalie” will be the homilist at this year’s Red Mass Jan. 20.
The annual liturgy marks the beginning of the legislative year and draws lawyers, judges and lawmakers from around the state to St. Mary’s Basilica in downtown Phoenix.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, a member of the State Bar of Illinois who also plays hockey and runs marathons, will address the crowd.
Bishop Paprocki is known as a vocal defender of traditional marriage and conscience rights. In 2005, he fought Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, over an executive order requiring pharmacists to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. An Illinois appeals court ruling on conscience rights in 2012 vindicated the pharmacists — one a Catholic — who objected to selling the abortion-inducing drugs.
5:30 p.m., Jan. 20
St. Mary’s Basilica
231 N. 3rd St. Phoenix
Info: (602) 354-2391
Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, said this year’s Red Mass will be especially relevant, given that Bishop Paprocki is himself a lawyer who has concern for the poor.
“He’s a very interesting bishop and certainly very charismatic,” Johnson said. “He’s dealt with a lot of the very timely issues that are impacting Catholics and the Church today.”
Amanda Newman, who will graduate from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in May, plans to attend the Mass as she has in previous years.
“It’s a great way to kick off the legislative year and it’s the intersection of law and politics and your Catholic faith,” Newman said. “It’s definitely a good opportunity to connect with Catholics in the Phoenix legal community.”
Thomas Giallanza, vice president of the St. Thomas More Society, the Catholic organization of attorneys that organizes the Red Mass, said he appreciates the spiritual connection between the opening of the legislative year and local attorneys and lawmakers.
“It’s something that ties all of the people who go to the Red Mass to what I believe is a hope and a blessing to come from all the efforts of the legislature,” Giallanza said. “It’s fascinating connection with the past and what we’re called to be in the future.”
The Red Mass was first celebrated in France during the Middle Ages. Clergy wear red vestments to symbolize the fire of the Holy Spirit they pray will guide lawyers, judges and lawmakers.