Red Mass celebration spotlights teachings of St. Francis

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Calling upon the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, James Callaghan, CEO of Franciscan Health Hospitals in Carmel, Indianapolis and Mooresville, told the judges and attorneys attending the Indianapolis Red Mass Thursday that they are providing Catholic leadership in a secular world.

“Remember what St. Francis said, ‘Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words,’” Callaghan said. “If we can emulate what St. Francis said, I think we bring credit upon our Catholic faith and then people will understand what our Catholic faith is about and they will be drawn to it.”

Callaghan was the keynote speaker at the St. Thomas More Society of Indianapolis Annual Dinner and Recognition Ceremony. The event followed the 58th annual Red Mass, hosted by the St. Thomas More Society, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Indianapolis.

Eight priests dressed in red robes led the mass. Monsignor William Stumpf, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, was the main celebrant and the Rev. Joseph Newton delivered the homily. Several judges, led by Chief Justice Loretta Rush, led the procession up the aisle and filled the front pews.

Newton opened his homily with a humorous tale about having to go into his family’s scary basement as a child. He became adept at leaping the stairs, pulling the light cords and getting back upstairs quickly. Then his mom suggested he use a flashlight.

He compared the flashlight to the law since they both dispel the dark, uncover the truth and illuminate the path ahead.

“The law is ultimately an instrument that casts away the darkness in the world,” Newton said.

During the service and again before the dinner, the members of the legal community paused to remember three court officials who recently died. Prayers were offered for Senior Judge Larry McKinney and Magistrate Judge Denise LaRue, both of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, and Mark Batties III, master commissioner in the Marion Superior Probate Court.

At the dinner, John Ryan, president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, was presented with the 2017 Man of All Seasons Award. Ryan holds a law degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and has served as chief prosecutor for Indianapolis, as corporation counsel and deputy mayor for the city of Indianapolis in the William Hudnut administration, and was the director of the Indiana Department of Child Services under Govs. Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence.
Ryan has been president of St. Vincent de Paul for three years and was just installed for another three-year term.

He extolled the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in serving meals, delivering groceries and running a food pantry. He talked about the nonprofit’s effort to provide household furnishings and kitchenware to families in need and a young program that helps families break the cycle of poverty.

Ryan confessed that when he joined St. Vincent de Paul, he had biases against those who struggle. He would wonder why individuals on welfare did not get a job and he was angry when he saw people using food stamps.

But, he has since thrown his misconceptions and biases away.

“It’s those folks in situational poverty and generational poverty that I have now learned, that they are folks that are generous, they’re loving, they’re kind, and they are so grateful for what they receive,” Ryan said. “So, all the biases I used to have against them, what I see now is the face of Jesus Christ in every one of them.”

After Ryan’s remarks, the St. Thomas More Society of Indianapolis presented him with a $1,000 donation to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Attorney Patrick Olmstead, president of the St. Thomas More Society of Indiana, told the members that the Red Mass was spreading around the state and growing in attendance. He also highlighted a movement toward a “statewide day of prayer for the judiciary” by having the dioceses around Indiana would hold their Red Masses on the same day.

“That’s fantastic,” Olmstead said of the increasing popularity of the Red Mass. “We’re doing good things and we’re getting people out.”

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