Archdiocese Local

Legal community invited to Red Mass in October

From left, Father John Pilcher, pastor of Mater Dei Parish in Topeka, hosted a Red Mass for Kansas lawmakers on Jan. 21. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Gerald Vincke of the Diocese of Salina, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Bishop John Brungardt of the Diocese of Dodge City. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Members of the legal professions from both the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph will be seeing red this fall — and that’s a good thing.

The annual Red Mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Cathedral of St. Peter, 409 N. 15th St., Kansas City, Kansas.  The main celebrant and homilist will be Msgr. Stuart Swetland, president of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas.

History records the first Red Mass occurring in 1245 in Paris. It was done to mark the beginning of the term of court for judges, prosecutors and attorneys.

The celebration of the Red Mass spread across Europe and around the world. Today, annual fall Red Masses are also attended by politicians, law students, law professors, government officials and anyone else involved in the legal profession.

But what about the “red” in the Red Mass?

The term may have come about because of the red robes worn by the medieval judges.

But it also may come from the red vestments of the clerics, because the Red Mass is a special time of prayer asking the Holy Spirit to guide the members of the legal professions in the pursuit of justice and to grant them wisdom as they carry out their great responsibilities.

This year’s Red Mass is sponsored by the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas, the archdiocesan office of stewardship and development, the Kansas City Lawyers Guild, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

It’s a local tradition that the Red Mass is celebrated each fall, and the archdiocese and the diocese alternate as hosts. This year, the Red Mass will be celebrated in Kansas.

But this year there will also be some changes, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kathryn Robards, CFNEK marketing coordinator.

Unlike in previous years, there will not be a reception after the Red Mass, said Robards. Seating is limited. The customary masking, handwashing and social distancing will be observed.

Additionally, a livestream option will be available for those who cannot attend in person. That link will be provided here.

Those who wish to attend the Red Mass must register by going online to:

For additional information about the Red Mass, go to the website of the Catholic Lawyer’s Guild of Kansas City.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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