The St. Thomas More Society of Arkansas chose to honor not one, but two Arkansas attorneys during the 28th annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock Oct. 7.
Deacon Noel “Bud” Bryant, a family law attorney and member of St. Joseph Church in Pine Bluff, and Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for the Sixth Judicial District of Arkansas, which serves Pulaski and Perry counties and a member of Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock, were recognized at the Mass.
Judges, lawyers, law school professors, law students and government officials of all faiths gathered to pray for the Holy Spirit's divine enlightenment on judicial deliberations, guidance in the administration of government and justice and for the intercession of St. Thomas More. The event gets its name from the symbolic color of the tongues of fire the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles at Pentecost and the corresponding vestments worn by the celebrants.
The Red Mass traditionally marks the beginning of the legal year each October.
Bryant, who has been a member of the St. Thomas More Society of Arkansas for more than 23 years, said he was “simply humbled” by the recognition.
“It brings to mind the Gospel from this past weekend, in which Jesus spoke about faith, but emphasized doing our duty. I don’t feel like I’ve done any more than what I am called to do. It’s humbling.”
Jegley was elected prosecuting attorney in 1996 and has handed thousands of criminal prosecutions every year.
“Being a prosecuting attorney is sometimes a thankless and lonely job,” Jegley said. “This represents some affirmation of a lot of the hard decisions that we've made over the years in the prosecuting attorney's office and things that we have done trying to make the community better, but also being fair and just with people who are accused of crime.”
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor concelebrated the Red Mass with Father Andrew Hart, adjutant judicial vicar and judge for the Diocese of Little Rock Tribunal and theological advisor to Arkansas Catholic; Father Stephen Elser, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Engelberg, St. Joseph the Worker Church in Corning and St. Paul the Apostle Church in Pocahontas; Father Greg Luyet, judicial vicar and St. Thomas More Society chaplain; and Father Joseph de Orbegozo, rector of the Cathedral of St. Andrew. Assisting on the altar were Bryant and Deacon Matt Glover, a civil lawyer and diocesan chancellor for canonical affairs. Fathers Hart and Luyet and Glover are canon lawyers.
In his homily, Bishop Taylor drew laughs for a story about throwing overripe tomatoes at his brother when they were children but, he said, whatever initial fun it produced was soon replaced by the negative feelings of his actions and the cleanup his brother had to endure. He then equated his tomato-throwing to political mudslinging and encouraged the congregation to think about the repercussions of their actions, how they permeate society at large, and if they are a contributing reason to the rampant division the nation is experiencing.
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