Brooklyn legal community gathers for revitalized red mass tradition
October 10, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
Betsey Jean-Jacques, President of the Catholic Lawyers Guild, Yolanda Guadagnoli, President of the Columbian Lawyers Association, and Gail Goode sit in the pews at the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint James in Downtown Brooklyn. The event, aiming to unite the legal community in prayer and fellowship, saw robust attendance this year. Photo: Robert Abruzzese
Downtown Brooklyn witnessed a resurgence of an age-old tradition as the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kings County and the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn co-hosted the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint James on Thursday, Oct. 5.
The ceremony, led by Reverend Monsignor Joseph Grimaldi, Very Reverend Patrick Keating, a recent Brooklyn Law School graduate, and Very Reverend Bryan Patterson, serves as a prayer for the legal community and marks a new beginning after many local bar associations break for the summer.
Gregory Cerchione, past president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, Catholic Lawyers, and Columbian Lawyers, along with Yolanda Guadagnoli, the current Columbian Lawyers president, led the congregation with a pair of readings.
Attendance this year was notably higher compared to recent years, a promising sign of community re-engagement following pandemic-related challenges.
Co-sponsored by the Kings & Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, the Knights of Columbus and the Columbiettes, and the Ceremonial Honor Guard of the New York State Court Officer’s Association, the event extends its invitation beyond lawyers and judges to court employees and people of different faiths.
A reception followed at the Brooklyn Bar Association, catered by Italian restaurant Marco Polo, reinforcing the event’s focus on camaraderie.
The roots of the Red Mass stretch back to 13th-century Catholic Europe. It made its way to American soil in 1928, called forth by Cardinal Hayes of New York. The Mass invites professionals across the legal spectrum to seek divine wisdom for the forthcoming term of the Court.
Not just an artifact of Catholic or European tradition, the Red Mass has evolved into a uniquely American and ecumenical event, underlining the diversity and unity within Brooklyn’s legal community.