Leaders in the St. Thomas More Society of Arkansas are looking toward 2012 with plans to devote the year to social justice.
While the society is well-known for the Red Mass held each year where those in the government and legal professions gather for a blessing, they also offer opportunities for members to grow in knowledge through legal education and fellowship with each other throughout the year.
The society is open to those in the field of law. It offers a way to get to know other Catholic lawyers and judges and promote high ethical standards in the profession.
"Our group is built on the premise that members apply principles in the way they conduct their personal and professional lives, and to promote high ethical standards," said society president Connie Brown Phillips. "It also promotes relationships with members. We see each other in court all the time and this provides a good network experience."
Phillips, who works in corporate law, said the society "wants to be more active in the community and have more activities for members" in the coming year.
The opportunity to focus on social justice gives them a chance to be more active and learn about the missions of organizations like Catholic Charities and others in the community
"As judges and attorneys, we often see people in some of their worst times. We need to be an advocate and help others in the community as we can to get resolution for problems," Phillips said. "The focus on social justice makes us more aware of ways we can help people in poverty and people who have needs in our community. We can find out how to get more involved."
The society will start off the year with a membership meeting for current and potential members, Phillips said. They will also offer a "brown bag" lunch series at meetings in February, March and April.
As a group, members will also deepen their spiritual commitment to their faith by attending adoration each month at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. Phillips said they plan to attend adoration on the third Wednesday of each month from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
During law week in May, they will offer a continuing education course on ethics that is open to all members of the bar association.
The society also offers two scholarships to law students -- one in Little Rock and one in Fayetteville. The students write essays on the effect that their faith will have on their practice of law.
The society's focus on living the Catholic faith in a principled and ethical way is based on the life of their patron saint, for whom the society is named.
St. Thomas More (1477-1535) is the patron saint of politicians and lawyers. He served as chancellor in England under Henry VIII, a post that he resigned in 1532. He refused to compromise his Catholic faith and principles in renouncing papal authority and approving of the king's divorce and stance on the Catholic Church. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and beheaded. At his execution, his final words were "The king's good servant, but God's first."
For more information on membership and meeting dates, contact the St. Thomas More Society of Arkansas by mail at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, 617 Louisiana St., Little Rock, AR 72201.
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