Crimson Tapestry in Parramatta: Law, Faith, and Justice Resonated at Red Mass

By Jacob Gormley, 8 February 2024
Image: Diocese of Parramatta

On Monday February 5, 2024 judges, barristers, solicitors, politicians and clergy, many of them wearing their wigs and colourful robes, filled the pews of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta for the Diocese’s annual Red Mass.

This centuries-old tradition, dating back to 1245 Paris, marks the beginning of the legal year. It was first celebrated in Sydney in 1931, and found a unique home in Parramatta in 2019, the only non-metropolitan diocese in Australia to celebrate the Mass.

Guided by the inspiring words of Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, and enriched by diverse perspectives of those in attendance from different legal backgrounds to different political parties, the Red Mass highlighted the deep connection and common purpose between the legal profession and the Church.

Rebecca Hegarty, president of the Parramatta and District Law Society, said: “The Red Mass represents a very long and rich tradition, where the judiciary, and those of us in the profession, were always to be guided by the morality and the integrity that the Church teaches us”.

“The Red Mass transcends labels. It reminds us we’re part of a greater whole, united in the pursuit of justice,” she said

This sentiment was echoed by Susan Carter MLC, shadow Assistant Minister for Attorney General, who highlighted the Red Mass’s deeper meaning: “A profession reaching back centuries, dedicated to the common good.”

Hugh McDermott MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General, said: “The Red Mass brings together those who believe in social justice.”

Haggerty said the Red Mass wasn’t about imposing beliefs, it was about acknowledging a shared pursuit of morality and the integrity.

Bishop Vincent spoke of this share pursuit and the importance of our legal system.

“Upholding justice and the rule of law has never been easy. Strong currents in our society today call into question the values that are foundational for our society: justice, equity, common good, equal dignity and the intrinsic worth of every person. Ideological positions are widening on every issue whether it is immigration, environment, gender or indigenous reconciliation. As people of faith entrusted with the administration of justice and care for the community, we are called to listen, discern and act with Christian wisdom, integrity and truth.”

“The scriptures for this Red Mass call us to be the catalysts for a transformed world. We are challenged to commit ourselves to work towards God’s vision of the fullness of life for all humanity,” he said.


You can read Bishop Vincent’s homily from the Red Mass here.

View photos of the day here.


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