Shreveport’s Red Mass Celebrates 25 Years

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by John Mark Willcox

The year was 1992, only six years had passed since the creation of our diocese and several Catholics in the law field, joined by another group of supportive lawyers and judges from other faith traditions, sought to renew the age old tradition of the Red Mass to invoke God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice.  Red is chosen for the Mass to invoke the Holy Spirit and the first Friday in May was selected to coincide with the nation’s Law Week.

Holy Trinity Church was chosen as the home of the Red Mass and the late Msgr. William O’Hanlon joined with a group of law professionals including Larry and Janey Pettiette, the late Don Miller (a non-Catholic), along with Trudy Daniel and others and they began the planning for the first Red Mass presided over by our late Bishop William B. Friend.  That first Friday in May of 1992 saw every Louisiana Supreme Court Justice seated at Holy Trinity to witness a unique and meaningful ecumenical gathering of those connected to the administration of law which included a real and heart-felt blessing placed upon those with the awesome responsibility of carrying out this task in our nation of freedom.

In the 25 years since, the Red Mass of Shreveport has seen a host of visiting bishops, prelates, one cardinal and the Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court as special guests for this time-honored tradition.  “We have been beyond blessed by the success of our Red Mass,” commented Shreveport attorney Larry Pettiette.  “The people of our shared field of law have really bought into the Red Mass, and participation among our associates has just been fantastic.”  Special honorees are also chosen each year for recognition of their ministry of the people of the region.  “We like to honor organizations that provide for people and our Red Mass provides that opportunity,” commented Pettiette.

Bishop WIlliam B. Friend at the 2004 Red Mass.

Current Holy Trinity Pastor Msgr. Earl V. Provenza remains amazed at how the Red Mass has been able to attract interest from across the nation.  “We wanted Cardinal Egan to join us in 2008, so Bishop Friend offered him an invitation and he accepted,” said Provenza.  “We continued to dream big so Judge Henry A. Politz sent an invitation to Anton Scalia in 2005, and low and behold, he joined us as well.”  Msgr. Provenza will serve as Master of Ceremonies and our own Bishop Michael Duca will be the principal celebrant and homilist for this special 25th year of the Red Mass.

All are invited to be a part of the ongoing tradition of this year’s Red Mass which will take place on Friday, May 5th, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in downtown Shreveport beginning at 9:00 a.m.  Holy Angels Residential Facility will be the special honoree for 2017.  A reception at the Petroleum Club will follow.

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