Twelfth Annual Red Mass held in Natchitoches

red mass 2017 pic

The Natchitoches Parish Bar Association sponsored the Twelfth Annual Red Mass at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Church Basilica Nov. 21. Father Blake Deshautelle and Deacon John L. Whitehead officiated. Members of the Natchitoches Parish Association were involved with the mass. Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office assisted in the posting of the flags First responders from the State Police, Sheriff’s Office, Natchitoches City Police, Northwestern State Police, and the Natchitoches Fire Department presented their hats on the altar and received a special prayer. Judges and lawyers from around the State participated in the Red Mass.

Judges pictured and in attendance are:

Judge John Whitaker, Retired

Judge C. Wendell Manning, President District Judges Association

Deacon John L. Whitehead

Judge Desiree Duhon Dyess

Judge John Lee

Father Blake Deshautelle

Judge Glenn Fallin

Justice E. Joesph Bleich, Retired

Judge Fred Gahagan

Judge George Metoyer

Judge Anastasia Wiley

Judge David Deshotels

Judge Lala Brittain Sylvester

Judge Byron Hebert, Retired

Judge Eric R. Harrington, Retired

Judge Daniel J. Ellender

History of the Red Mass

The Red Mass is a service celebrated annually in the church for judges, prosecutors, attorneys, law school professors and 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 Christians believe is the God-given responsibility of all in the legal profession.

Its traditional name, the Red Mass, is derived from the color of the vestments that may be worn by the celebrants of the service and traditional scarlet robes of the attending judges.

The exact date of the first Red Mass is uncertain. The tradition of celebrating this service goes back many centuries in the ecclesiastical courts of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. During the reign of Louis IX, a chapel was designed for and dedicated to the celebration of the Red Mass in 1245. In England, the custom of judges and lawyers attending the Red Mass annually in Westminster Cathedral began in 1310 and continued even during World War II.

The Red Mass came to the United States in 1928 in New York City. In the District of Columbia, Justice of the highest courts in the land gather for the observance of the Red Mass at the Washington Cathedral. At this special celebration, persons of all faiths and from all branches of government, foreign diplomats and other distinguished guests join together to ask God’s help in their roles as administrators of justice.

The first Red Mass in Louisiana was offered in New Orleans’ St. Louis Cathedral on October 5, 1953. The tradition spread throughout the state, including Shreveport, where the first Red Mass there was held in 1993.

We felt it was important to ask God’s guidance and blessings for the work of the judges and lawyers living and working in Natchitoches Parish and the surrounding communities, so the Mass was brought to Natchitoches in 2006, and celebrated. Since then, Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and Trinity Episcopal Church have alternated hosting the Red Mass and have included others who work in public service.