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Lawyers Guild gathers for Annual Red Mass

Catholic Lawyers Guild Vice-President Maura Doyle (center) presents the Guild's Honorable Joseph R. Nolan Award to Camille Sarrouf Jr. and Joyce Sarrouf who accepted the award on behalf of the late Camille F. Sarrouf. Pilot photo/Jacqueline Tetrault

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BOSTON -- Legal professionals and law students gathered at Our Lady of Good Voyage Seaport Shrine on Oct. 28 for the annual Red Mass hosted by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston.

The tradition of the Red Mass began in England during the Middle Ages. It was held at the beginning of the court's term to pray for lawyers to receive divine guidance and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the red vestments worn by the celebrants.

The gospel reading was Mark's account of Jesus healing Bartimaeus, a blind beggar. In his homily, Cardinal Seán O'Malley spoke of a Spanish novel, "Marianela" by Benito Perez Galdos, which tells the story of a woman in love with a blind man, Pablo. When Pablo receives surgery that restores his eyesight, he sees how beautiful other women are and forsakes the one who truly loves him.

The irony, Cardinal O'Malley said, is that Pablo could perceive reality more clearly when he was blind than when he regained his sight.

"Our faith helps us to be able to see the world through God's eyes, to see what is really important, to see what is really beautiful, what is really authentic," he said.

The Mass was followed by brunch at the nearby Seaport Hotel.

During the meal, the guild presented the Honorable Joseph R. Nolan Award posthumously to Camille F. Sarrouf, who died Sept. 4 at the age of 85. Sarrouf was a member of the Massachusetts bar for 56 years, a professor at New England School of Law for 20 years, and a long-term board member of the Catholic Lawyers Guild, which he and Nolan helped to revive.

Michael Gillis, President of the Catholic Lawyers Guild, said Sarrouf was "a lion of the bar," someone people wanted to emulate.

Guild Vice-President Maura Doyle recalled meeting Sarrouf while they were both working with trial lawyer Abner Sisson. Doyle said Sarrouf and Sisson both had a "gentlemanly British professional feel to the practice of law."

Doyle said that when Sarrouf's son, Camille Sarrouf Jr., spoke with him about the business side of the firm, "Camille would say, 'This is a profession. We are here to help people. If you want to go into business, then you have to go into a different line of work.'"

Doyle encouraged law students and new lawyers to heed that advice, "because that is what's missing from this profession today."

She said that for Sarrouf, a case was "more than a bundle of evidence."

"It wasn't about winning or losing. It was someone's story, threaded with details of their hopes and their loves and their losses, a story about something that should not have happened. It was never about the money, but something more fundamental than that. So even when someone may have lost their case, they felt honored and heard and seen by Camille Sarrouf," Doyle said.

Doyle presented the award to Sarrouf's wife, Joyce, and Camille Sarrouf Jr., who carries on his law firm.

The keynote speaker at the brunch was William Evans, executive director of Public Safety and Chief of Police for Boston College. He worked for the Boston Police Department for 38 years, including four years as commissioner. While introducing Evans, Gillis noted that Boston had 162 homicides a year when Evans began his career, compared to 38 last year.

Evans' mother died when he was too young to remember her, his closest brother was killed in a car accident, and his father died when he was 14. Father Paul White from Gate of Heaven School was close to Evans' family at that time and offered to get Evans into St. Sebastian's School.

"That opportunity changed my life. Everywhere I go I tell that story, because there's no such thing as bad kids," Evans said.

He said he is proud that in the last five years crime in Boston went down 20 percent. He attributes the decrease to police outreach efforts in communities.

"The ability to talk to people, to put yourself in their position, and build those relationships, that was key," he said.

Evans described his trip to Ireland the previous week. At one point he was invited to visit a school in Belfast that people said was "integrated." While in the United States this term is associated with racial integration, in Ireland it meant that Protestants and Catholics attended the same school. Throughout his trip, Evans told people about his Catholic upbringing and how Father White helped him.

"I had a lot of turmoil in my life, but the Catholic faith stepped in and pointed me in the right direction," Evans said.

Cardinal O'Malley offered some remarks before the final blessing. He encouraged the jurists to "let people know that you're a Catholic and continue to be witnesses."

"The most important issues of humanity are the issues that you deal with every day, the life and death issues, the issues of right and wrong, of morality and ethics and justice. And I know that your faith can make a huge contribution to the way that you will live out your vocation," he said.

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