Lawyers Guild, STM College renew ties as Red Mass returns to St. Thomas More College, Saskatoon

The tradition of the Red Mass, which began in England more than 700 years ago, was renewed this year at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon. (Photo courtesy of St. Thomas More College)

Annual event was on hiatus since pandemic; funds raised benefit STM students

By Paul Sinkewicz, STM Communications

(This article was originally published at and is used with permission)

The Red Mass returned to St. Thomas More (STM) College in early December, bringing together members of the Saskatoon legal community, St. Thomas More College and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.

The annual event was interrupted in 2020, 2021 and 2022 by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its absence was felt by the members of the legal profession in Saskatoon who make up the St. Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild (which is not a part of the STM College, but shares the name of St. Thomas More).

Fr. Kevin McGee, Vicar General for the Roman Cahtolic Diocese of Saskatoon, stepped in to officiate the Mass in place of an ailing Most Reverend Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Roman Catholic Bishop of Saskatoon.

McGee joked that this edition of the Red Mass bore a resemblance to football, especially the ‘next man up’ mantra used when there are holes in the roster. In this case, it was illness that took out key players like Bishop Hagemoen and Guild President Marie Stack, and cost STM Campus Minister and choir leader, Celeste Woloschuk her voice.

“There are lots of people on the disabled list, however others have stepped up and we are going to celebrate today,” McGee said to open the Mass. Fr. Dan Yasinski, Chaplain at STM, concelebrated the Mass, and Fr. Andre Lalach, Campus Minister, was an organizer.

McGee went on to explain the tradition of the Red Mass, which began in England more than 700 years ago.

“We are taking part in a centuries-old tradition in our gathering here today in invoking the gift of the Holy Spirit on all of you in your various roles and leadership in the various forms of the legal profession.”

St. Thomas More is the patron saint of civil servants, court clerks, judges, politicians, and lawyers, so it was fitting to celebrate the Red Mass in a chapel in a college named for him, said McGee.

RELATED: Text of Bishop Mark Hagemoen’s message for the Red Mass (LINK)

In attendance at the Red Mass were judges from the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan and Court of King’s Bench, as well as lawyers and other members associated with the legal profession.

After the Mass, the guests arrived at the STM Cafeteria for a catered meal, and speeches from Michelle J. Ouellette, K.C. (filling in for Marie Stack as MC), and Dr. Carl Still, President of STM College.

The St. Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild was hosting its 19th annual Red Mass. The Guild was formed in 2002, and has made STM College its home, forging a close relationship. The proceeds from tickets sold for the Red Mass supper are going to support scholarships and bursaries at the college.

“The members of the St. Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild have very much missed this event,” said. Ouellette. “And so, we are very happy to have the chance to gather again to formally mark what is meant to be a celebration of the open of the courts.”

“This event traditionally brings together members of the legal profession, the judiciary, those working in the administration of justice and public service in general, to seek guidance and reflect on the responsibility and the power that we have in our collective professional roles.”

But back to football: even at the dinner the game-day roster was not complete. Several expected guests were absent, due to COVID or other viruses, as was the scheduled keynote speaker, Dr. Mary Heilman, Bioethicist at St. Paul’s Hospital.

But the event forged on with a great meal and some enthusiastic visiting among attendees.

“It is so great to have the Guild back at STM for this special event,” said Still. He thanked the Guild for their support of student success at the College with their fundraising efforts.

“There’s a special affinity here in Saskatoon between the Guild and the College, especially since we both have the same patron in St. Thomas More. STM has a long history of sending students onto the College of Law, and I know some alumni of both are here this evening.”

“We at St. Thomas More College owe a great deal to the St. Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild, and certainly to your individual members who have helped us with our mission and our governance, but equally as citizens we are in your debt for the work you do every day in the pursuit of justice,” said Still.

“The renewal of Red Mass today gives us an opportunity to celebrate our ongoing relationship and to thank all of you for your expertise and conscientious service as Catholic lawyers and judges.”