The annual Red Mass, which traditionally marks the beginning of the court season, was celebrated by Bishop Nelson Perez on Oct. 5 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. About a dozen priests concelebrated, including several of whom work in the diocesan Tribunal Office, as well as Bishop emeritus Richard Lennon. The Mass is an annual gathering of the Lawyers Guild of the Diocese of Cleveland.
After Mass, the Lawyers Guild honored Frank DeSantis with its St. Thomas More Award at the annual St. Thomas More Award Luncheon at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center. DeSantis, a partner at Thompson Hine, chairs the firm’s ethics committee and is a leader in many community organizations. He serves on the board of directors for the Law and Leadership Institute and for the Children and Family Law Advocates of Cuyahoga County.
DeSantis and his wife, Wendy, are longtime, active members of St. John Vianney Parish. They have three adult children.
He is a veteran member of the Lawyers Guild, having served on the executive committee and as president. He is a member of the board of trustees for Saint Mary Seminary and is a past board member at the Jesuit Retreat House. DeSantis also provides pro bono legal services to the underserved through the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, of which he is a past president. Last year, he received the Legacy of Justice Award from the Legal Aid Society.
Bishop Lennon, Bishop emeritus Anthony Pilla and Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries received a special recognition award from the Lawyers Guild for being instrumental in supporting and assisting the guild with its mission of fostering spiritual growth and fellowship throughout the legal community. It was a rare occasion for the three bishops emeriti and Bishop Perez to be at the same event.
Also at the lunch, Kevin Cook, a senior at St. Ignatius High School, received the first Martin T. Galvin Memorial Scholarship, which was established in honor of Galvin, a partner at Reminger Co., LPA, who died earlier this year. Galvin also was a past president of the Lawyers Guild. Cook is a member of the St. Ignatius rugby team and is active in other school organizations and ministries. His father is an attorney in Westlake and his mother is a kindergarten aide at St. Bernadette School in Westlake.
The Galvin scholarship will be awarded annually to a family member of a Lawyer’s Guild member or a lawyer in the community.
In his homily at the Mass, Bishop Perez referenced an address delivered at a baccalaureate Mass in 2001 at the Loyola University Chicago law school by John Breen, “The Catholic Lawyer and the Meaning of Success.”
The bishop said Breen discusses how lawyers are considered by many to be the epitome of success and to wield power. Breen went on to talk about success and what it means, noting that some people consider the accumulation of material things to be a sign of success.
But faith has a different vision of success, Bishop Perez said, “and that turns the worldly vision of success on its head.”
In our faith, the bishop said, success is to act with love in the imitation of Christ. He linked this thought to the funeral Mass he celebrated the previous day for former Cleveland Police Chief Ed Kovacic. “I never had a chance to meet him, but had the honor of celebrating his funeral Mass. Father Frank Walsh, Kovacic’s former pastor at St. Jerome Parish in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood, talked about his big heart. Father Walsh shared a story about Kovacic opening his home to the girlfriend of a man he had arrested and jailed so the woman had a safe place to live during her pregnancy and the delivery of her baby.
“He (Kovacic) took her into his home with his six children and cared for her. Now that’s a man with a big heart,” the bishop said. “He might have been a success, but he was remembered for having a big heart. That’s embodied in the cross,” he said, gesturing to the large crucifix hanging on a wall in the cathedral.
“We say we love everything from people to pizza and everything in between. We use the same word: ‘love.’ But what does love look like?” the bishop asked. “It’s a man nailed to a cross. It’s the act of free will that promised us salvation. We intend to draw out the good in others. That’s love.”
“He (Jesus) was a servant, a man who was beaten, scourged, sentenced to death, betrayed by his friends and spit upon by his enemies. He was dripping with blood and sweat, his feet were pierced with metal stakes and his side was pierced with a lance. He pours out his love for us. That is the perfect picture of love. It’s transformative, life-giving. That’s the Gospel placed before you today,” Bishop Perez said.
“If you want to save your life, you have to give it away – the ultimate Christian sacrifice. The more you love, the more love blossoms; the less you love, the less there is,” he added.
“So how do we understand success? At the end of your journey, what do we want people to say about us? ‘Yes, he or she was successful, but he or she was loved,’” Bishop Perez said.
Judges and attorneys at the Red Mass events were asked to mark their calendars for next year’s Red Mass and award luncheon, which will be on Oct. 18, 2019.