WILMINGTON — Bishop Malooly took the opportunity at the annual “Red Mass” to thank the members of the St. Thomas More Society for everything they had done for the diocese and for him during his tenure in the Diocese of Wilmington. The Mass was held Oct. 11 at St. Mary Magdalen Church in north Wilmington.
The Red Mass marks the beginning of the judicial year and is named after the scarlet robes worn by royal judges who attended the Mass centuries ago. This was the 33rd annual event in the Diocese of Wilmington. It was dedicated to Father Leonard Klein, the previous chaplain of the society, and Deacon Ed Lynch, one of the founding members of the St. Thomas More Society. Both died within the past year.
Noting that he had submitted his resignation to Pope Francis 20 months ago, Bishop Malooly told the congregation, “This will be my last time as ordinary of the diocese, to celebrate the Red Mass.
Previous Masses have featured guest speakers including Bishop John O. Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y.; Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan of the Diocese of Camden, N.J.; and Father Robert Kennedy, retired dean of the canon law department at the Catholic University of America. That was not the case this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Usually, we have an erudite speaker who comes in for this Mass,” Bishop Malooly said. “Well, this is not going to be an erudite experience. This is an opportunity to thank you for all you have done during my time.”
He noted that when he arrived in 2008, the diocese was experiencing the fallout from the clergy sexual-abuse crisis. Many of the lawyers in the St. Thomas More Society were involved in the diocesan bankruptcy and reorganization, he recalled, and were able to participate in the capital campaign that followed.
“You’ve been able to support the church better than many others have, and yet you see the sins of the church more clearly, and you see our failings. And yet, the heart and the spirit that you bring allows you to be loyal, and allows you to help me as you are part of the solution,” he said.
Bishop Malooly said the day’s second reading, from Acts of the Apostles, told the Pentecost story. He said the early apostles felt compelled to speak about the gift they had received, that they were followers of Jesus.
“They had to witness that good news,” the bishop said. “And you in your own lives, by doing it as judges and lawyers, and doing it in the appropriate, virtuous way, you, too, have become witnesses for our state and for our society.”
The gospel, from John, is one often used at confirmations. The bishop said the message of keeping Jesus’ commandments translates to the legal profession.
“In a very practical way, through your faith and your profession, you are an advocate for truth in our society, for civility – which is sadly missing in many places – and for the other virtues that come into responding in the legal system to be fair to everyone. It’s your goal. It’s your vocation in a very practical way, to bring God’s spirit and truth to all that you do,” he said.
Bishop Malooly assured those in attendance and others watching online that, although he will be retiring, he hopes to participate in events sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society.