WHEELING, W.Va.—Most Rev. Timothy Christian Senior, V.G., M.B.A., M.S.W., M.A., M.Div, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will be the featured homilist for the 10th annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling, W.Va., at 6 p.m. Jan. 27.
Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, will be the designated celebrant for the Mass. Msgr. Frederick P. Annie, V.G.; Msgr. Kevin M. Quirk, J.C.D., J.V., rector of the cathedral; as well as other diocesan priests will concelebrate. The Red Mass is celebrated to invoke God’s blessing and guidance on those who work in the administration of justice. Members of the judiciary as well as state and local government officials will be in attendance. The Red Mass has been celebrated annually at the Cathedral of St. Joseph since 2009.
Bishop Timothy Senior has been Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia since July, 2009. Bishop Senior was appointed Rector of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbook, Pa., on July 2, 2012.
Prior to assuming this responsibility, Bishop Senior served as Moderator of the Curia from 2009 to 2012, assisting the Archbishop in the governance of the Archdiocese. Prior to this appointment, Bishop Senior served as Vicar for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from June of 2004 to July of 2009. As Vicar for Clergy, he oversaw all aspects of clergy personnel of the Archdiocese. From 1992-2004, Bishop Senior served in the Archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Human Services, both as Deputy Secretary and then Secretary. In that role, he had the responsibility for the governance and operation of the network of Catholic health care and social services ministries sponsored by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
A 1977 graduate of Lansdale Catholic High School, Lansdale, Pa., Bishop Senior is a classically trained pianist and the youngest of three children. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1985. He earned a Masters of Divinity and Master of Arts in Theology from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., in 1988, served as an assistant pastor at a parish in Bucks County, Pa., and taught religion in an Archdiocesan high school before pursuing full-time graduate studies at Boston College.
After earning his Masters in Social Work and Masters in Business Administration from Boston College in 1992, Bishop Senior served as Deputy Secretary for Catholic Human Services from 1992 until 1997 when he was appointed Secretary. In 1998, he was named Chaplain to His Holiness, Pope John Paul, II, with the title “Reverend Monsignor.” In 2004, he was named Vicar for Clergy by Cardinal Justin Rigali, and in 2005, was named a Prelate of Honor by the late Pope John Paul II. In 2009, Bishop Senior was appointed Titular Bishop of Floriana and Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia. He was ordained a Bishop on July 31, 2009 by Cardinal Justin Rigali.
Bishop Senior currently serves on the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People as well as the Finance and Budget Committee for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is a member of the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference; serves on the Board of Trustees for Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary; is a member of the Dean’s Council for the National Catholic School of Social Service at the Catholic University of America; and is the Episcopal Liaison for the Catholic National Social Workers Association.
The custom of an annual liturgical celebration or special Mass for the Bench and Bar arose principally in England, France, and Italy in the early 13th century. The first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in 1245 at Paris in La Sainte Chapelle, King Louis IX of France (later canonized as St. Louis). In certain localities in France, the Red Mass was celebrated in honor of St. Ivo of Charters, the patron saint of lawyers, who was born in Brittany in 1253 and canonized in 1347.
In England, the tradition of the Red Mass began about 1300 during the reign of King Edward I. The entire Bench and Bar attended the Red Mass together at the opening of each term of Court: the feast day of St. Hillary (January 11), Easter Monday, the Feast of the Holy Trinity, and the Feast of St. Michael (September 29). Since the priests wore red robes, the judges of the High Court in Edward I’s time, who were all doctors of the law, conformed to ecclesiastical tradition and also wore red robes. Therefore, the celebration became popularly known as the Red Mass.
Some believe that the name has a deeper origin: The liturgical red signified the willingness to defend the truth inspired by the Holy Spirit even at the cost of shedding one’s blood. Since the Mass asks the Holy Spirit to assist lawyers and judges in their service to the truth of justice, the devotion is called the Red Mass.
This celebration of the Red Mass was introduced into the United States in 1928: Patrick Cardinal Haves presided at the celebration at St. Andrew Church, New York City, and strongly encouraged the involvement of the legal community in spreading the Word of God. Since that initial celebration, the annual celebration of a Red Mass has spread to more than half of the States. In 1995, the Red Mass was first celebrated at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Charleston, W.Va.
Concelebrating the Mass will be Msgr. Frederick P. Annie, V.G.; Msgr. Kevin M. Quirk, J.C.D., J.V., rector of the cathedral; as well as other diocesan priests.