​Love of law should lead to law of love, says archbishop at liturgy for legal professionals

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Catholic News Agency

Love of law should lead to law of love, says archbishop at liturgy for legal professionals

A legacy of law and faith was observed at the celebration of the 69th annual Red Mass held October 14 at San Fernando Cathedral. The Mass is open to people of all faiths who want the Holy Spirit to grant them wisdom and guide their work in the legal system.

The Red Mass is a historical tradition within the Catholic Church dating back to the 13th century when it officially opened the term of the court for more European countries. The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral of Parish in 1245. From there, it speak to most European countries.

Around 1310, during the reign of King Edward I, the tradition began in English with the Mass offered at Westminster Abbey at the opening of the Michaelmas term. It received its name from the feast that the celebrant was vested in red and the Lord High Justices were robed in scarlet. They were joined by university professors displaying red on their academic gowns.

In the United States, the first Red Mass occurred in New York City on Oct. 6, 1928. One of the better-known Red Masses is celebrates each fall at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.

San Antonio began the tradition almost seven decades ago through the auspices of St. Mary’s School of Law and the Catholic Lawyers Guild of San Antonio. Officials of all faiths attend in their capacity as private individuals to receive God’s blessing and guidance on the court term.

The legal profession experienced many challenging times in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Thanks to everyone’s resilience and determination to provide access to justice, many courts rapidly adopted supportive technologies enabling the wheels of the legal system to move forward so that it might fulfill its mission,” states Sister Grace Walle, FMI, law chaplain at St. Mary’s University School of Law. “Specialty courts in Bexar County worked on transforming their local justice system to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jail and increase the effectiveness of community treatment for these individuals.”

As the pandemic grew, the law school quickly shifted to remote-learning technologies, and it continued to provide legal services to low-income members of the community in creative ways.

Groups in the legal procession at the Mass included the Catholic Lawyer’s Guild of San Antonio, St. Mary’s University Law Alumni Association, Hispanic Law Alumni Association, representatives of Bar Associations, Paralegal Associations, Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas, Court Reporters Associations, Bexar County Court Reporters Association, Texas Court Reporters Association, Texas Deposition Court Reporters Association, Texas Court Clerks Association, members of the Executive Branch of Government, members of the Legislative Branch of Government, members of the Judicial Branch of Government, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit District Courts, United states District Court for the Western District of Texas, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Supreme Court of Texas, Fourth Court of Appeals, Bexar County Civil District Courts, Bexar County Criminal District Courts, Bexar County Probate Courts, Bexar County Courts at Law, and Justice of the Peace Courts and Municipal Courts, Bexar County District Clerk, Texas State Administrative Judges, visiting educational institutions and representatives from the Reformed Tradition, Student Bar Association, Leadership Council of St,. Mary’s University, Law Faculty of St. Mary’s University School of Law, Dean of St. Mary’s University School of Law, and President of St. Mary’s University.

Thomas M. Mengler, president of St. Mary’s, gave welcoming remarks, and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, was the celebrant at the Mass.

Prior to the conclusion of the liturgy, speaking blessings were prayed for legislators, judges, court reporters and court personnel; as well as attorneys and paralegals; along with School of Law administration, faculty, staff and students.