The Red Mass, which takes place annually at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in May of each year, has become a fixture in the Diocese of Shreveport. Now in its 24th year, the Mass, which invokes God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice, is well attended by local judges, lawyers and government officials. The Mass always takes place the first Friday in May in conjunction with the nationally recognized Law Week.
The Red Mass has a rich history originating centuries ago in Rome, Paris and London. Its traditional name is derived from the color of the vestments worn by the celebrants of the Mass. Over the centuries, the Red Mass has officially opened the judicial year of the Sacred Roman Rota, the Tribunal of the Holy See. During the reign of Louis IX, Saint Louis of France, La Sainte Chapelle was designated as the Chapel for the Mass and is now used only once a year solely for the Red Mass. In England, the tradition began in the Middle Ages and continued even during World War II when judges and lawyers attended the Red Mass annually at the Westminster Cathedral. The tradition was inaugurated in the United States in 1928 at old Saint Andrew’s Church in New York City. Since then, the Red Mass has been celebrated annually there and in many cities in the United States.
Richard Hiller is a local attorney and Chairman of the Red Mass Society. He is excited about this year’s event during which Bishop Shelton Fabre from the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux will give the homily, and local non-profit Heart of Hope will be the honoree.
“Heart of Hope is a local non-profit ministry that helps young women who are facing a pregnancy – it helps them with making a decision on their child and adoption,” said Hiller. “It’s a local, non-profit that strictly relies on local community donations. It doesn’t get any money from any government agencies. It actually has a place out in Keithville, Louisiana where these young women can stay and get counseling and get support in making a big decision in their life.”
“We have members of the honoree, this year Heart of Hope, that come to the Mass and Bishop Duca will ask them to come forward and they will get a special recognition during the Mass,” Hiller added. “Also, the Red Mass Society provides a donation to the Heart of Hope Ministry.”
Hiller is also looking forward to having Bishop Fabre as the guest homilist, as well as the music.
“Bishop Fabre is a wonderful homilist. I’d really like people to come to the Red Mass to hear Bishop Fabre, but not only that. What’s also great about the Red Mass is that the music is quite extraordinary. We have the Zion Baptist Church do the music before Mass, they start at about 8:30 a.m. The Mass is actually at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 6 at Holy Trinity. The judges and officials gather across the street at the second circuit, [then] they walk across,” he said. “During the service we have the St. Cecilia Choir. If you like music, want to hear a wonderful homilst, and recognize a very deserving honoree in Heart of Hope, I hope you will come to the Red Mass.”
The Red Mass is an ecumenical event with pastors of different faiths coming together to bestow their blessings and prayers on legal professionals. All people of all faiths are welcome to join the Red Mass Society and the Diocese of Shreveport at this annual event.
by Jessica Rinaudo