Annual Red Mass for Supreme Court Justices, Judges and Government Officials

September 16, 2006

Washington’s new archbishop, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, will be the principal celebrant and homilist for this year’s Red Mass, held on the Sunday before the Supreme Court’s fall session opens to pray for justices, judges, attorneys and senior government officials:

Sunday, October 1, 2006,
10:00 a.m.
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC

(No cameras inside; camera set-up across Rhode Island Avenue. Reporters should contact Archdiocese’s communications office for inside seating information.)

The Red Mass invokes God’s blessings and guidance in the administration of justice under the power of the Holy Spirit, and is a tradition that dates back many centuries to Rome, Paris and London. The name comes from the color of the vestments worn by the celebrants and the color of fire, a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

At a brunch following the Mass, local attorneys will be honored with Pro Bono Legal Awards in recognition of volunteer service. Each year, $10 million in pro bono legal services are donated to people in need through the Archdiocesan Legal Network. Details on award winners are online at

This will be Archbishop Wuerl’s first Red Mass in Washington. He became the leader of the Archdiocese of Washington in June 2006 after 18 years as the Bishop of Pittsburgh. A leader in community, ecumenical and interfaith activities, he regularly works with civic and business leaders on educational and community-service initiatives. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on the Catholic faith and has headed several committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also is chairman of the board of the National Catholic Educational Association. A native of Pittsburgh, he received graduate degrees from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Gregorian University in Rome, Italy and the University of St. Thomas in Rome, where he received a doctorate in theology in 1974. Ordained to the priesthood in 1966, he was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

The Red Mass and Pro Bono Legal Awards are sponsored each year by the John Carroll Society (JCS), a Washington area organization that provides spiritual, intellectual, charitable and social opportunities for Catholic professionals.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
[email protected]