September 22, 2017

Red Mass and dinner for Catholic lawyers and judges set for Oct. 5

By Sean Gallagher

For centuries, Catholic lawyers and judges have worshipped together annually at what is known in tradition as a Red Mass.

It is given that title because the Mass is typically a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit in which the celebrant wears red vestments. The legal professionals seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the liturgy for their work in the legal term to come.

The St. Thomas More Society of Central Indiana is sponsoring a Red Mass and dinner for Catholic lawyers and judges beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 at St. John the Evangelist Church, 126 W. Georgia St., in Indianapolis.

Msgr. William F. Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general, is scheduled to be the principal celebrant of the Mass.

The dinner will take place after the Mass at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, 140 W. Washington St.,

in Indianapolis. The keynote speaker during the dinner will be Dr. James Callaghan, chief executive officer of Franciscan Health hospitals in Indianapolis, Mooresville and Carmel, Ind.

The recipient of the society’s Person of All Seasons Award will be retired lawyer John Ryan, who serves as the president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Indianapolis.

Patrick Olmstead, a lawyer who is a member of SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Parish in Greenwood, is the president of the society. He said his involvement in it has helped him both professionally and spiritually.

“It’s inspirational in both ways,” Olmstead said. “You get to see how good lawyers practice. You get to see how values and beliefs can help guide you to where you have a principled base practice. Oftentimes, you’ll see lawyers who just feel like they have a higher calling, whether that’s to the judiciary or to their practices and how they treat their clients.”

Father Joseph Newton, archdiocesan vicar judicial, serves as chaplain for the St. Thomas More Society, which is named after a 16th-century English lawyer, judge and statesman who died for the faith for refusing to consent to King Henry VIII’s claim to be the leader of the Church in England.

More’s life was opened to a broader audience through the award-winning play and movie, A Man for All Seasons.

Father Newton regularly sees the society’s members “truly embody the spirit of St. Thomas More” as they “work toward growing in faith, growing in knowledge and growing in our respective professions.

“The St. Thomas More Society in our monthly meetings, community outreach, and educational activities gives us an opportunity for faith in action and a place to discuss how faith informs law and law informs justice tempered with mercy,” the priest said.

Olmstead is pleased with how participation in the Red Mass in Indianapolis has grown in recent years.

“It’s really awesome to see the pews continue to fill,” he said. “It’s growing. More and more judges are attending. That’s great to see.”

(Tickets to the dinner following the Red Mass are $67.50 for lawyers, and $67.50 for a judge and a guest. To register for the dinner, visit and click on “Red Mass.” The registration deadline for the Oct. 5 Mass and dinner is Oct. 2. )

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