Members of legal profession find ‘Red Mass’ a boost to faith

This story was originally published by Catholic News Singapore on 5 February 2017. Republished with permission.

Msgr Philip Heng invoking the Holy Spirit’s blessing upon the legal fraternity during the Red Mass on Jan 11.

The Catholic Lawyers Guild (CLG) marked 15 years of service to the Church in Singapore with its annual “Red Mass” at the Church of Sts Peter and Paul on Jan 11.

In his homily, Msgr Philip Heng reminded the 150 members of the legal profession present that although they were intrinsically all good people graced with the gift of faith, they must always seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their respective vocations.

Faith demands mission and witness, he said, and the challenge for the CLG beyond its 15th anniversary is to conform its members and those it serves more and more into the image and likeness of Christ.

The highlight of the Mass was Msgr Heng’s invitation to participants to come forward and pray the Prayer to St Thomas More, patron saint of the legal profession. He then laid hands on them and invoked the Holy Spirit to fill them all with His sanctifying gifts and blessings.

During the offertory, together with the gifts of bread and wine, a lawyer’s court robe and scales of justice were also brought to the altar.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who brought the gift of bread to the altar, said he found the Mass uplifting and encouraging. He thought it was wonderful to see so many members of the legal profession there seeking God’s blessing for their work in the administration of justice.

Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck, who brought the gift of wine, said the Red Mass reminded him that in the midst of all the busyness of life, especially professional life, one’s faith in God is at the centre of it all.

“The Red Mass was a very good opportunity for Catholic lawyers from all levels to meet and get to know one another,” commented Mr Leon Vincent Chan, 24, a law student at the National University of Singapore.

It is “incredibly inspirational for us students, because it gives us role models, not only of the profession, but of the faith, to look up to”, he added.

CLG president, Senior Counsel Jimmy Yim, announced at the dinner reception after Mass that CLG handled 140 cases in 2016 through its pro bono legal clinics held twice a week.

However, the number is expected to grow exponentially in the future, and he appealed for more lawyers to step forward “as an outward expression of faith” to provide legal help for the needy and marginalised, particularly in the prison service and the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI).

The “Red Mass” is celebrated specially for those involved in the administration of the law or who intend to do so. The first recorded “Red Mass” was celebrated in 1245 in Paris. In England, the tradition began about 1310 when the entire Bench and Bar attended the Red Mass at the beginning of each legal year. The Mass was celebrated in honour of the Holy Spirit, for which red vestments were worn.

For more information on the Catholic Lawyers Guild, call 6801-7494 or email


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