On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Bishop Jaime Soto will preside at the annual Red Mass at 5:15 p.m. in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in downtown Sacramento. Concelebrant and guest homilist will be Dominican Father Michael Sweeney, founder and executive director of the Lay Mission Project.
Attorneys, judges, law school professors and students, government officials and all those working in the legal system or involved in the process of government are invited to attend this Mass regardless of their religious affiliation. The Red Mass is the traditional gathering of members of the legal profession and elected and appointed officials to invoke the aid of the spirit of God in their deliberations for the year to come. This event is held in October to mark the official opening of the judicial year.
Following the Red Mass, the 14th annual Bench and Bar Award dinner will be held at the Sutter Club, where Bishop Soto will present the St. Thomas More Award to Deacon Sergio Diaz of Sacred Heart Parish in Sacramento. Named in recognition of the patron saint of lawyers, the St. Thomas More Award is given to a member of the legal profession in the diocese who has shown integrity in the practice of law, leadership in the community, and faithfulness to gospel values in his or her personal and professional life.
“I am grateful, humbled and hopeful. I also feel unqualified and undeserving of this honor,” Deacon Diaz told Catholic Herald magazine about being chosen as this year’s award recipient.
“St. Thomas More was a man of great intellect and integrity,” he said. “As King Henry VIII’s chancellor, he enjoyed prestige and power. Yet because of his faith and defense of the Catholic faith, he was falsely accused and condemned to death by the king who once favored him.
“As an ordained minister, I have sought to serve in places and circumstances where I most readily find Christ, disguised among the faces of the poor, hungry, homeless, hurting, abused, neglected, forgotten and maligned immigrants. It is here that I witness and experience the tender loving mercy of God.”
Deacon Diaz retired as a senior attorney from the state of California. He has also worked as a deputy district attorney and an assistant public defender. He has volunteered in a variety of ministries, including with juveniles in the state youth authority, assistance to pregnant women, providing legal assistance to immigrants, prison ministry, and with victims in domestic violence and human trafficking.
Listen to Dcn. Sergio Diaz on a recent episode of The Sacramento Bishop's Hour: