Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Charleston church, community to be honored at Red Mass celebration

Published September 17, 2015

ATLANTA—The Catholic legal community will honor the interim pastor at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in recognition of “the spirit of grace” the people of “Mother Emanuel” church demonstrated following the June shootings at the church. Nine African-Americans were killed by a gunman while they attended a Bible study at the Charleston church.

This year, the St. Thomas More Society of Atlanta, Inc., will award its first St. Francis of Assisi Award to the faith community of Emanuel A.M.E. Church and Rev. Dr. Norvell Goff Sr., its interim pastor.

The award will be bestowed as the St. Thomas More Society hosts the annual Red Mass in Atlanta.

Judges, lawyers, law students and other legal professionals of all faiths are invited to attend the Red Mass, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 8, at 11 a.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory will be the principal celebrant at the annual Mass, which will be concelebrated by the priests of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Following the Red Mass, the Society will hold its annual awards luncheon at the Capital City Club and will present the St. Thomas More Award, which the Society awards annually to a member of the legal profession for acts demonstrating courage through their commitment to justice and humanity.

This year, the Society will present the St. Thomas More Award to two individuals: Georgia Supreme Court Presiding Justice P. Harris Hines for his commitment to justice for youth and his leadership on the Supreme Court Commission on Justice for Children and to Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. to recognize the grace that the people of Charleston and of South Carolina demonstrated following the tragic shootings at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in June 2015.

The Red Mass is a tradition that began more than 750 years ago in Europe. Its name refers to the scarlet robes of the judges who attended the Mass centuries ago, as well as the color of the vestments worn by the clergy celebrating the Mass. Since the Middle Ages, English judges and lawyers have celebrated the Red Mass to pray for the courts and for justice.

The Red Mass is celebrated annually in England at Westminster Cathedral to celebrate the beginning of the new judicial year. In the United States, the Red Mass is celebrated annually in Washington, D.C., and other cities. Since 1993, Atlanta’s St. Thomas More Society has embraced this tradition by sponsoring the Red Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Basilica is located at 353 Peachtree St., NE, Atlanta.

For St. Thomas More Society members who have paid their 2015 dues, the lunch is free of charge; the fee for all other attendees of the awards luncheon is $40.

Those wishing to attend the luncheon should respond by Sept. 30 at