News Release

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law to Celebrate 100th Annual Red Mass

Michigan Supreme Court Justice to lead Renewal of Lawyer’s Oath of  Commitment

The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law will host its 100th annual Red Mass on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, from 5 - 6 p.m. at Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church located at 629 E. Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit. The church is immediately adjacent to the School of Law Campus. 

UDM’s Red Mass is an occasion for judges, lawyers, and officials of all faiths to pray together for guidance at the beginning of the new judicial term and join in the Renewal of the Lawyer’s Oath of Commitment.  The Oath is recited by all new lawyers in the State of Michigan as a mandatory part of the swearing-in ceremonies.  Renewal of the Oath is a voluntary means of reaffirming the pledge made at the onset of a lawyer’s career.  This year’s Oath will be led by the Honorable Michael F. Cavanagh, Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.  Cavanagh received a bachelor's degree from the University of Detroit in 1962 and his law degree from the University of Detroit School of Law in 1966.

The celebrant of the Mass will be Reverend Simon Hendry, S.J., Superior of the Jesuit Community at UDM and Director of the Catholic Studies Program.

The custom of a special religious ceremony for all members of the bench and bar at the opening of each term of the court arose principally in England, France, and Italy in the early 13th century.  A Mass was celebrated in honor of the Holy Spirit, for which red vestments were worn.  Hence, the celebration became known as the Red Mass.

University of Detroit Mercy’s annual Red Mass dates back to 1877, when Detroit College, as the University was then known, began its first year with a mass at Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church to ask the blessings of the Holy Spirit on the coming year’s work.  The School of Law continued the tradition when it opened in 1912, again hosting the Red Mass on behalf of the Archdiocese of Detroit at Saints Peter and Paul through the present.

Today, the Red Mass is attended by judges, lawyers, and officials of all faiths asking God to bless, strengthen, and enlighten our civic and religious leaders, all servants of the law and all people of faith, so that in cooperation and mutual trust we may more effectively achieve justice and freedom for all. For more information about the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, visit

For more event information, contact Denise Hickey, Assistant Dean of Alumni Relations at 313-596-0202 or by e-mail:

Release date: August 30, 2012

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The University of Detroit Mercy is Michigan's largest private Catholic University, with more than 100 academic majors and programs. Sponsored by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the Sisters of Mercy, the University has campuses located in downtown and northwest Detroit.

UDM is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities and the largest of 17 Mercy institutions of higher education in the United States. For the 14th consecutive year, University of Detroit Mercy is listed in the top tier of Midwest regional universities in the 2015 edition of the U.S. News & World Report's "Best Colleges" rankings.