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LIKAS – Over forty members of the legal profession (lawyers and a judge) gathered for their fifth annual Red Mass at St Simon’s Church here on 20 Feb 2016. Archbishop John Wong presided at the Mass which was concelebrated with the parish priest Fr Cosmas Lee.
The annual Mass was organised by the Sabah Catholic Lawyers Apostolate (SCLA), a part of the Archdiocesan Human Development Commission. It was formed in 2011 under the then Abp John Lee.
The members present came not only from the KK Archdiocese but also from the Sandakan Diocese.
A Red Mass is a Mass celebrated annually in the Catholic Church for judges, attorneys, law school professors, students, and government officials. The Mass requests guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice, and offers the opportunity to reflect on what Catholics believe is the God-given power and responsibility of all in the legal profession.
Originating in Europe during the High Middle Ages, the Red Mass is so called from the red vestments traditionally worn in symbolism of the tongues of fire (the Holy Spirit) that descended on the Apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Its name also exemplifies the scarlet robes worn by royal judges that attended the Mass centuries ago.
In his homily, the presider challenged those present to be like “their Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike” (Mt 5:45) especially in this Year of Mercy.
In her speech after the Mass, SCLA Coordinator Priscilla Ruth Marcus made a few clarifications regarding the organisation. She said its main function is to help Catholics in matters of faith and law and in the past five years, it has quietly helped hundreds of people – not just Catholics but also those of other faiths – to know their constitutional rights in matters concerning freedom of religion, apostasy, and suspected forced conversions of minors.
She also said the SCLA plans to visit as many parishes as possible to create awareness programmes among the people about their constitutional rights and rights under the family law. She called on all the parish priests to give support to this ministry.
Marcus expressed the hope that those present will be the “voice of the truth,” the “voice of the oppressed,” to be “lawyers for God.”
The event ended with a fellowship meal at the parish hall.