Lawyers Guild celebrates Red Mass, honors fruits of the Spirit

ORLANDO | “The Red Mass is one of those moments where we should all remind ourselves, as judges and lawyers, that faith is essential to everything we do,” said Arthur Bryant Applegate, this year’s Catholic Lawyers Guild of Central Florida St. Thomas More award recipient. Bishop John Noonan celebrated Red Mass at St. James Cathedral Oct. 17 to pray for judges, attorneys, and all members of the legal profession.

Applegate credited his wife, Lynne, with his unwavering faith. “When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer at 9 months old, my wife literally took her to church and laid her on the altar and prayed to God,” he said. “I went to the library to learn more about the disease. She has always been my rock.”

Currently serving as Seminole County Attorney, his faith and professional journey have taken Applegate from working with the Boy Scouts of America and founding a homeless shelter to the White House, serving under President George W. Bush and organizing prayer services at Arlington National Cemetery.

In his homily, Bishop Noonan noted, “We need the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit to make us instruments of peace and justice.” Applegate personifies these gifts as does this year’s St. Martin de Porres award winner, Christian HELP.  Quoting G.K. Chesterton, the bishop added, “’When people begin to ignore human dignity, it will not be long before they begin to ignore human rights.’ It is imperative that we, as a nation of laws and religious tradition, protect and cherish the human dignity of all.” Christian HELP is a non-profit organization that has worked hard to honor human dignity through its efforts to feed, clothe and meet the needs of the homeless while helping them find jobs and providing for them materially and spiritually.

It is the Holy Spirit (signified by the red vestment worn and the name given to the Red Mass), that is at work in the core of the Catholic Lawyers Guild beliefs and foundation. The Mass is a reminder of its values and the Creator who endowed each member with their unique gifts.

As a long-time Cursillo participant and team member, Applegate spoke of the call to be Christ’s light to others. “My wife had a serious muscle disease that she’s overcome… My son had significant heart trouble as a young child. My daughter had cancer. I had cancer. And we have just been blessed with one recovery after another surrounded by an amazing Christian community. Because of that, we try and share it the best way we can.” This is why he says, “I try to bring my faith into everything I do… Sometimes it’s easy to forget the blessings. One of the things the prayer groups I participate in each week do is they serve as a reminder, as a Catholic, of how blessed I am to be a part of this faith.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – October 17, 2018