Red Mass calls on Holy Spirit for legal profession

Eddie Griem, recipient of the 2019 St. Thomas More Award, shakes Bishop Johnston’s hand after receiving the award from Catholic Lawyer Guild president Eric Bendorf September 27. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Megan Marley

KANSAS CITY — Over 20 lawyers and other legal professionals did some Cross-examining September 27 at St. Peter’s parish in the Brookside area, as they attended the 14th annual Red Mass for members of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kansas City and Catholic Bar Association.

“We welcome you tonight as we call on the Holy Spirit to descend upon you and all those you serve in this profession, so that you can use the gifts of the Spirit for the common good,” said principal celebrant of the Mass Bishop James Johnston, Jr. to the attorneys, paralegals, judges and law students.

The Mass is a centuries-old tradition—first celebrated in 1245 in Paris and later spreading across Europe, offered just before an opening Court term and also as the opening of the judicial year of the Holy See’s Tribunal, the Sacred Roman Rota. Priests wear red vestments, the color associated with the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, and reminiscent of traditional red judge’s robes. The first U.S. Red Mass occurred in 1877 in Detroit and spread to other cities. The first Kansas City area Red Mass occurred in the 1950s before petering out in the 1980s; the tradition revived in 2006, around the time the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kansas City formed.

The Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kansas City is one of over 60 lawyers’ groups in the U.S. creating a local community for Catholic legal professionals to grow in the Faith and challenge each other to live it in their professional and private lives. An affiliate of the Catholic Bar Association, which was founded in 2015, it intends to be the first national organization creating community and networking opportunities for Catholic legal professionals.

Three of the episcopal advisors for the Catholic Bar Association were present at the September 27 Mass, including Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Ks., Bishop James Johnston, Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, and Fr. Kenneth Riley, Chancellor/Vicar General for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph; priests from both the Archdiocese and Diocese were also present to concelebrate, and Bishop Mark Rivituso, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, was invited to give the homily.

Bishop Rivituso encouraged daily prayer and a devotion to the Holy Spirit, a message he reiterated throughout his homily.

“We need to be open to the Holy Spirit, the Advocate in our lives,” he said. “The Spirit of Truth will help us know how to live a life of holiness.”

It’s especially important since the legal profession works for the common and particular good of society.

“We’re called to bring about the salvation of souls in our work. It may be very lofty to hear this as judges, lawyers, legislators, legal professionals: all of us here are disciples of Christ—your work is a participation in the very same work of Jesus Christ,” Rivituso said. “Remember that when you’re serving others; we’re helping them to know what Christ the Savior wants for them. As we serve them, they may come to know the path of goodness, beauty and truth that the Savior desires for them.”

“Thank you for living out integrity in life…for living Jesus for the people you serve.”

At the end of Mass, Eric Bendorf, board president of the Catholic Lawyers Guild, presented the St. Thomas More Award to Guild member Eddie Greim. Bestowed annually, the Award recognizes a member whose conduct in their practice and parish life is according to the standards of St. Thomas More.

Greim, a member of the Guild board, is married with five daughters and is very involved in Visitation Parish and School in Kansas City. He has been before the Supreme Court in the 6th, 10th and 8th Circuits, defended a case against the IRS for discrimination, has helped sort redistricting issues in Missouri, and recently became a member of the Missouri advisory committee of the US Commission on Civil Rights.

A reception followed in the adjoining church narthex.

For more information on the Catholic Lawyers Guild, visit; for more on the Catholic Bar Association, visit


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November 29, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph