As the new law term commences, members of the legal fraternity from the Parramatta region have reaffirmed their commitment to justice and faith.
Dozens of solicitors, barristers and judges and politicians joined Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, in celebrating the Red Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, on Thursday 3 February.
“The annual Red Mass is an important occasion for us, as Christian lawyers, to publicly reaffirm our commitment to act Christ-like as members of the justice system, to defend the rights of all and especially the oppressed and vulnerable,” local solicitor Matthew Lo told Catholic Outlook.
The Red Mass, which is so-called after the vestments worn by the celebrates to signify the Holy Spirit, dates back to 1245.
“It is appropriate, always, to seek God’s blessing on those entrusted with the administration of justice,” Bishop Vincent said in his opening remarks.
Bishop Vincent: we cannot be true to the Gospel if fail to deliver justice
In referencing the readings for the Mass, which mention God’s identification with the weak and vulnerable, Bishop Vincent encouraged those in the legal profession to work towards God’s vision of justice, mercy and fullness of life for all.
“There is no other field of human endeavour that is so deeply connected to justice as the legal profession.
“Your mission reflects that of the Servant, the Messiah, who delivered justice, human dignity and liberation.
“Modelled on Him, the great liberator, you are to lead others, especially at the unjustly oppressed, to higher levels of inclusion and human flourishing.
“We cannot be true to the Gospel if we safeguard our privileges and fail to deliver justice and human dignity to those who are unjustly deprived of it.
“We pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the gift of wisdom and judgement on your work at this Red Mass.
“We recommit ourselves towards God’s vision of justice, mercy and the fullness of life. That God’s total self-giving love in Christ and his audacious identification with the victims of injustice be our inspiration.
“Then, we can truly aspire and work towards being the servants of justice, the conduits of mercy, the sign of hope in the example of the Messiah.”
‘There is more to law than technicality’
In his words of thanks at the conclusion of Mass, Michael McAuley, President of the St Thomas More Society, explained that the Red Mass is a reminder to those in the legal profession of the human person they are representing and defending.
“The Red Mass in Parramatta this year, and indeed, throughout NSW, was held in circumstances of difficulty where it was being suggested, not only that the Red Mass not proceed, but that it not even proceed by way of livestream, that it not proceed at all.
“That would be a great loss because with the Law, there is a tradition not merely of legalism, but of respect for the human person, respect for justice, respect for human dignity, respect for mercy – these are traditions that need to be upheld, be improved and become part of our daily lives.
“I thank Bishop Vincent for his homily. I hope the words of his homily will provide the opportunity for fruitful thought and meditation and prayer. Those are words that we can bring to our lives.
“At lawyers, we’re always at risk of becoming mere legalists, and Bishop Vincent reminds us tonight that there is more to law than technicality.”
Solicitor Steve McAuley and President of the Parramatta & District Regional Law Society, told Catholic Outlook, “our faith cannot be compartmentalised. We live our faith not only when we got to Mass, but also in our office, in our courtrooms, in the street. The way we practise as a lawyer is impacted by the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.”
To watch the celebration of the Red Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, click here.
Read Bishop Vincent’s homily from the Red Mass here.
View images from the Parramatta Red Mass here or below.