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Justice, good and isolation addressed at annual Red Mass


Staring down into pews filled with black-robed judges, the Hon. Acea Mosey spoke about loneliness. The Erie County Surrogate court judge offered her remarks during the Red Mass on Oct. 5.

Surrogate Court Judge Acea Mosey offered her remarks at the close of the Red Mass. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

The annual Red Mass sponsored by the St. Thomas More Guild was held at St. Joseph Cathedral, and honored lawyers, judges, law clerks and anyone ensuring justice and fairness for the common good of our society.

Mosey pointed to the harrowing “once in a generation” blizzard of last December that saw 40 deaths and many more isolated from loved ones.

“It is our responsibility to look to others that are in need, that are in pain, and are suffering,” she said. “And we are the ones that must help them.”

Mosey looked at some tragedies of the past year, from the deadly snowstorms to the supermarket shooting on the heels of the Covid pandemic.

“How chilling is this? How many people are being isolated? How many people are stuck and scared?” she wondered.  

She began to research the deadly effects of loneliness and isolation can have.

“I understand this is not an uplifting topic or one that we think about often, but I think it is one that must be addressed because it is something we can actually do something about. You don’t need to be alone to be lonely. We can be in this cathedral and be lonely. And that is what it is so hard to see. So, by talking about it, we are doing our first step to doing something about it. How can we help in the battle of loneliness? By asking everyone, please, unplug, be in the present, and be wise.”

Mosey asked that those in attendance be watchful and involved, to be spiritual and empathetic, to be alert and vigilant, while always looking out for others.

Justice and prayer served as cornerstones of the annual Red Mass. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

“There are so many passages in God’s Word that talk about what importance it is to be watchful. To pay careful attention to others and to be ready to deal with situations that are before you. Not just to notice that something is wrong, but to actually be prepared for what might happen. To be involved. To take part in others’ lives. To actually be connected,” she said.

Mosey said she knows it is difficult to get involved in someone else’s life, but this is their role as community leaders.

“When I was writing the remarks, this was the one I struggled with the most. And it’s because it is so deeply personal for me, related to the human spirit or soul. As opposed to material or physical things. Something greater than oneself. When a person’s highest goal is to love others. That we are all one, motivated to work for every single person’s welfare.”

“And finally, my favorite, the capacity to truly understand what another is feeling. And what they are experiencing within their own frame of reference. That is to place oneself in an up to position. This is truly what we are asked to do as judges every day, isn’t it? To place ourselves in someone else’s position. It is not to feel sorry for them. It is to have the ability to understand what they are going through. Empathy is the glue that holds relationships together. Both professionally and personally.

“In closing, I would like to focus on the meaning of the Red Mass. The blessing that we are receiving today because we administer justice within our community. That is such an honor to be able to be blessed by all of these amazing clergy that are here for us today so that we can go out and administer justice,” she said.

After thanking all the members of the St. Thomas More Guild for their assistance with the Mass, Bishop Michael W. Fisher explained why the tradition exists 700 years after it began.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher speaks on the judicial need to serve the common good at the Red Mass, held Oct. 5 at St. Joseph Cathedral. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“The Red Mass is the occasion when the Church invokes the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon the members of our judiciary and the legal profession,” Bishop Fisher said. “It is also a time for the Holy Spirit to shower you with wisdom and discernment, which are so necessary for maintaining integrity in the conduct of your professional duties. Know that yours is a solemn and essential profession. I certainly would go so far as to say it is more than just an occupation, but it is truly an important vocation in life. You provide a vital service to our community and the common good.”

The St. Thomas More Guild of Western New York is an association of Catholic lawyers that not only celebrates the faith, but works to promote the social good, to nurture our ethical commitments, and of course recognize St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, who is recognized as a symbol of integrity and a hero of conscience.

St. Thomas More guild scholarships were presented in May to John Salerno, St. John the Baptist School, Kenmore; Stanislav Ryskin, St. Mary School, Swormville; and William P. Christ, University at Buffalo School of Law.

Listen to Michael Mroziak’s report.