Sunday, 28 May 2017 14:04

Governor, state and local leaders attend Red Mass

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Chief Justice Karmeier speaks about tradition

2017 red mass 2Regulars at the weekday 5:15 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception are often joined by visitors to the Lincoln sites in the state capital. On May 16, they were also joined by an impressive array of state and local officials.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois began the annual Red Mass by welcoming among others, Gov. Bruce Rauner, Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier, other Illinois Supreme Court justices, House Speaker Michael Madigan, members of the General Assembly and local civic leaders.

“ … to reflect on the spiritual aspects of our vocation … provides an occasion for us to remember the privilege that we have been given to serve the people in our communities as attorneys, judges, legislators and government officials,” said Bishop Paprocki as he began his homily. ”Inevitably, challenges come in our vocations in the legal profession and public service, and so we turn to the Lord to strengthen us during the hardships that we encounter throughout our careers.”

While most citizens may not have a great deal of sympathy, Bishop Paprocki acknowledged the pain that decision-makers can many times experience.

“ … how easily can our hearts be hardened by the hardships that we encounter in our profession?” the bishop said. “How easily can public servants develop a hardened heart when pelted with the verbal stones of a personal attack, a misleading news story or negative political ad?”

St. Thomas More Legal Guild

An annual underwriter of the gathering and dinner following the Red Mass, the Guild and its guests first heard an update on Catholic Charities Legal Services from its program director, Bill Henry. Henry noted that strides continue to ensure the availability of top-notch legal representation for those who do not have the resources to hire an attorney. The program, devised by Bishop Paprocki based on the model he created in the Archdiocese of Chicago, continues to rely on the generosity of Guild attorneys and others to donate their time on such cases.

Tradition and reaffirmation

In introducing the main speaker, Chief Justice Karmeier, Bishop Paprocki noted that two previous Red Mass speakers were in the audience: Justices Anne M. Burke and Bob Thomas. And they were joined at the table by fellow justices Rita B. Garman, Mary Jane Theis and Thomas L. Kilbride.

Chief Justice Karmeier entitled his after dinner remarks “Tradition and reaffirmation.”

“In celebrating today’s Mass, we joined a tradition that dates back more than seven centuries … to stand before God and fellow judges and lawyers to renew their commitment to the rule of law and the principles of justice,” the Nashville, Ill. jurist said. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, Chief Justice Karmeier invited the entire room to join him in a mock reaffirmation of “our commitment to the rule of law and the American system of justice.” As in court, all rose and raised their right hands.

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