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Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Calls Upon West Virginia Leaders to Face Evil

Photo by Heather Ziegler The Most Rev. Timothy C. Senior, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, at left, is joined by the Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, for the Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling on Saturday evening.

WHEELING — The Most Rev. Timothy Senior, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, on Saturday reminded members of the legal profession and lawmakers of the importance of the role of their professions “in a country desperate for leaders.”

Senior was the homilist for the annual Red Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling on Saturday evening. The Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, who taught Senior in high school, served as celebrant for the Mass and host at a reception following the service.

Bransfield said he was very proud of his “student” who went on to be rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. “I recall him as an intelligent and inquisitive student and have watched with pride and thanksgiving to God as he committed his life first, to priestly service and, then, as he answered the call to serve the Church in Philadelphia as one of the its auxiliary bishops.”

The Red Mass is a customary liturgical celebration for the legal community, legislators and civic leaders that draws officials from across the state. U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey, U.S. Rep. David McKinley and West Virginia Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, were among others in attendance.

Bishop Senior acknowledged the difficulties officials have in their professions, especially the legal community, which he said faces evil every day. “I am certain many of you look evil in the face. … Facing evil is frightening. We pray you have the courage not to shrink in the face of evil and proclaim God’s truth.”

He said those in attendance are called to be leaders in the world and to use their voices to further God’s love and mercy. “You know very well the power of the spoken word. As Christians, never shy away from difficulties and always speak the truth.”

Senior also urged compassion for immigrants and refugees. “Your attendance here today reflects the importance of your relationship with God. As the Gospel says today, open your hearts and soul to the Holy Spirit. Seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.”

On a light note, Senior said there is not much red seen in Philadelphia these days — only green — as the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans prepare for the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots next Sunday.

He said despite the number of Steelers fans at the Mass, he asked for prayers for the Eagles.

Bransfield thanked all those who attended the Mass and the various clergy who participated. He said prayers were offered for “those who serve justice for the common good.”

After the Mass, a reception was held in the Great Hall at Central Catholic High School, adjacent to the church.

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