A Time to Speak – An opportunity for legal professionals to gather in prayer

Ann Schiavone Dyke

I’m not sure why I had not previously gone to a Red Mass, but after attending my first one two years ago, I vowed to make it a tradition.

The Red Mass is celebrated once a year at the Cathedral of the Assumption for all people who work in the legal community.

Lawyers, paralegals, judges, secretaries, law students, law professors, advocates, social workers and government officials are all welcome and encouraged to attend regardless of religious background.

The gathering is an opportunity for thoughtful reflection on each of our roles within the legal system. It is a time to consider the gifts of the Holy Spirit — wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude — and how we can use these gifts to benefit others.

This year’s Red Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday September 15, at 12:15 p.m. As we gather for the Red Mass this year, we do so in the face of a pandemic that has taken the lives of loved ones and caused economic damage in the form of lost jobs and shuttered businesses.

We feel increased racial tension here in our community and hear the calls for justice. Perhaps now more than any other time in recent memory, we need all members of the legal community to gather and try to put aside our differences for the betterment of the community.

The Red Mass provides an opportunity for all to seek the guidance and wisdom of God and ask Him to provide us with the ability to seek justice for all those we serve in this community. It is a time to gather as a community, pause and pray for renewed strength. It is important for us to ask for God’s guiding hand in doing what is necessary for justice to prevail.

As a career prosecutor, I have seen many things over the course of the years that make it hard to believe human beings could do some of the things they do to others, often to their own family members that they have a duty to nurture and protect.

Sometimes my work becomes not only physically exhausting but mentally draining as well. These criminal acts can evoke feelings of outrage, indignation, sorrow and sadness. However, my job as a prosecutor is to seek justice, not to just obtain a conviction.

In all of our roles, we must remember that we need to perform our duties in an even-handed, fair, knowledgeable way. It is not about who “wins,” who receives the most money or who garners a favorable ruling from the Court, although that is the reality of our adversarial system of justice. It is about each of us using our skills, knowledge, compassion and understanding to bring about a fair and equitable resolution.

The Red Mass is a perfect time to come together in unity to focus on the same objectives, to gather as one to recharge our hearts and minds, to remember that God is our guiding light and to ask Him for the strength and wisdom to do the right thing.

Please mark your calendars and make the time to renew your spirit by joining in this wonderful celebration.

Ann Schiavone Dyke, a member of Holy Trinity Church, is the division chief of the Special Victims Unit for the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office. In October, she will become the director of the Criminal Division of this office.

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