Recognized during the Red Mass celebration Tuesday for her service in the public sector, former Rep. Susan Brooks called upon her colleagues in the legal community to be peacemakers.
“I believe we can’t just talk about peace, although as lawyers, we are good at talking,” Brooks said. “… It’s in taking the action to promote the harmony, the peace that is difficult, yet so necessary and today more than ever.”
The St. Thomas More Society of Central Indiana hosted the Red Mass at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, just north of downtown Indianapolis. At the dinner following, the society honored Brooks with the Woman for All Season’s Award.
Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson was the celebrant for the mass. He said the reason for the Red Mass was to give thanks for the legal professionals and he emphasized that he prayed for them always.
The celebration opened with Brooks and Nancy Gargula, U.S. Trustee for Indiana, leading the procession of judges down the aisle. Members of the judicial who attended the mass included Justices Geoffrey Slaughter and Mark Massa along retired Chief Justice Brent Dickson as well as Indiana Court of Appeals Judges Rudolph Pyle, Elizabeth Tavitas and Derek Molter. Southern Indiana District Court Judges James Sweeney and James Hanlon and Southern Indiana Bankruptcy Court Judge Robyn Moberly were also in attendance.
Afterward, the congregation walked across the street for dinner in Assembly Hall of the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center. The crowd was smaller than in previous years, but after the COVID-19 pandemic forced last year’s dinner to be canceled, many seemed to be very happy to again be able to gather and enjoy the company of their friends and colleagues.
St. Thomas More Society president and Marion Superior Judge David Certo advised everyone to encourage and be kind to each other.
“I’m just thrilled tonight that we could all be here to celebrate it because my theory as Cub Scout leader is we’re all one quarter low on fun,” Certo said. “We ought to be having more of it, and we shouldn’t wait for the world to deliver it to us.”
Thompson called Brooks a “servant leader.”
“I never doubted her integrity and that servant leadership, looking for the truth and being right there with what is right and just and holy,” he said.
A graduate of Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Brooks served in Congress from 2013 through 2019. She was chair of the House Ethics Committee and co-chair of the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus.
Prior to joining Congress, Brooks served as deputy mayor in 1998 and 1999 in then-Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith’s administration. In October 2001, she was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana and served in that position for six years.
Brooks focused her remarks on the importance of civility and working with those who hold different political and personal beliefs.
She highlighted her collaboration with former Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly on getting a mental health bill for law enforcement signed into law by President Barack Obama and her work with Indiana Democratic Rep. Andre Carson to get the bill which elevated the Kennedy King Memorial to be part of the U.S. Civil Rights network passed and signed into law by President Donald Trump. Also, she worked with Florida Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel and California Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein as well as Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins to get a bill passed protecting young Olympic athletes from sexual assault.
“We couldn’t have been more different in our voting records. But we saw a problem, we saw that we could come together,” Brooks said of her work on the athletes’ bill. “We focused on what we could agree on. We listened and pushed our staff to focus on that with their staffs and we got things done. So why I bring that up now is because your adversaries aren’t always your adversaries.”
Brooks said she believed her duty as an elected official was to get things done and to be a peacemaker. Whenever she held a public event to connect with her constituents in her district, she was often met with people who were angry at what she or the Congress or the president had done or not done. But, she said, she and her staff would be kind, patient and always listen.
“…Find a way to listen with compassion and with patience,” Brooks said. “I think you can find that common ground.”