Bishop to celebrate Red Mass for legal professionals

By Joanna Gardner

Bishop Dennis Sullivan will celebrate the Red Mass for judges, lawyers, law professors, law students, and government officials on Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. at St. Margaret’s Church, Infant Jesus Parish in Woodbury Heights. Anyone connected to the legal profession and their families are invited to attend.

“The Red Mass is an event where, under the direction of Bishop Sullivan, legal, judicial and government officials pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all that they do to serve the community,” said Martin F. McKernan, Jr., a member of the Thomas More Society, the group organizing the Mass.

The Red Mass has its roots in 13th century England during the reign of King Edward II. It was held at the opening of the Michaelmas term (Sept. 29) of the judicial calendar. The Mass took its name from the red vestments worn by the celebrant and the scarlet robes worn by the Lord High Justices and academic officials to symbolize the tongues of fire associated with the Holy Spirit.

At the conclusion of the Red Mass, the bishop will confer the St. Thomas More Society Award on Joseph H. Kenney. The award is given by the society of Catholic legal professionals to someone who has contributed greatly to the cause of justice and led a distinguished career as an attorney or judge.

“Mr. Kenney is highly respected throughout the State of New Jersey, and embodies the highest ideals of the legal profession,” McKernan said. “[He] will be honored for his distinguished service not only in the courtroom on behalf of his clients, but also in the committee room, where he has selflessly served the state and federal judiciary and the lawyers of New Jersey.”

A trial lawyer admitted to the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U. S. Supreme Court, in addition to the N.J. State bar, Kenney has served with distinction on numerous state and federal bar and judicial panels. He is a parishioner at St. Thomas More Parish in Cherry Hill.

This year the Red Mass will also serve as an opportunity to encourage legal professionals to assist the Camden Center for Law and Social Justice, Inc. (CCLSJ).

Founded in 1993, as a privately funded, non-profit, faith-based public interest law center, the CCLSJ has been involved for the past 20 years in immigration law, family law, protecting victims of domestic violence, and general civil law for the working poor, both in the City of Camden and throughout the Diocese.

To volunteer time, talent, or treasure with the Camden Center for Law and Social Justice, contact Executive Director Jeffrey DeCristofaro, Esq. at 856-583-2950, or visit

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