By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published October 11, 2012
Lawyers and judges prayed for God’s blessing as part of the annual Red Mass.
A tradition that began in the Middle Ages was celebrated in downtown Atlanta Thursday, Oct. 4, as two dozen judges in black robes and red sashes walked into the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said he “welcomed from the heart” to the Mass all the Catholics and non-Catholics that filled the wooden pews of the historic church.
He reminded the congregation the work of law should “always be the place where mercy and justice co-exist.”
“These are two virtues that must be found within any legitimate legal system,” he said. “The more justice and mercy are balanced the better our society becomes.”
The annual celebration is hosted by the St. Thomas More Society, an organization of Catholic attorneys.
Susan Clare, a lawyer and a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta, attended her first Red Mass.
“It is a good opportunity for us to come out of our day and make sure God is a part of everything we do in our work life,” she said.
And Chelsea Jackson, who is awaiting the results of her Georgia bar exam, wanted to attend the Red Mass.
Jackson, who attends St. Matthew Church, Tyrone, said the message from the archbishop gave lawyers words to think about.
“It’s really obviously an interdenominational service. It’s beautiful. It’s encouraging,” she said.
As part of the service, Rabbit Scott Colbert, from Temple Emanu-El, read the first reading from the prophet Micah. The second reading from the Book of Job was read by H. King Buttermore, who filled in when the invited Methodist minister was unable to attend. The cantor was Michael Caldwell, the first president of the St. Thomas More Society.
At a luncheon following the Mass, four members of the legal community were given the St. Thomas More Award, recognizing specific actions showing commitment to justice and humanity.
The 2012 honorees are:
Chief Justice Carol Hunstein of the Supreme Court of Georgia, who was saluted for her efforts “to improve Georgia’s criminal justice system in smart and humane ways and for her tireless promotion of access to legal services by the poor.”
Attorneys H. Lane Dennard, of King & Spalding, retired, and Patrick C. DiCarlo, of Alston & Bird, who together represented residents of the McDaniel-Glenn housing project who faced the prospect of eviction because of a criminal history. Together with other volunteers, they represented nearly 200 families, all but six of whom were able to retain their housing vouchers. The two attorneys led an effort to examine the lasting and unintended ramifications of numerous criminal statutes in Georgia.
Attorney Patrick J. Rice, of Hull Barrett, Augusta, who practices law, but also serves the community as a mediator who works to bridge differences of opposing sides and is active in helping elderly people to appointments and with medical care.