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Diocese of Rockville Centre

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ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK, September 30, 2005 - The Most Reverend William Murphy, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre will be the principal celebrant at the Annual Red Mass on October 25 at 6:00 p.m. at the Church of St. Joseph in Garden City.

The Red Mass marks the traditional opening of the judicial year. The custom of a special Mass for the legal community began in the 13th century. The first on record was celebrated in 1245 in the Chapel of the Order of the Advocates, or La Sainte Chapelle, in Paris. The tradition of the Red Mass began in England around 1305. Since the priest wore red vestments in honor of the Holy Spirit, who was called upon to grant enlightenment, prudence and compassion to those involved in the legal system, and the judges wore red robes, the celebration came to be known as the “Red Mass.”

Patrick Cardinal Hayes imported the tradition to the United States, holding a Red Mass at St. Andrew’s Church in New York City on October 6, 1928. The first celebration of the Red Mass in Nassau County, held in St. Agnes Cathedral, dates to the founding of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1957.

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About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre was formed in 1957 and covers 1,222 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.4 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.3 million). There are 134 parishes in 115 towns. Last year over 20,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 20,000 first communions and 5,000 marriages took place in the diocese. There are 2,137 students in Catholic kindergarten, 23,825 in primary or elementary school, 12,628 in secondary school and 3,300 in higher institutions. There are 76 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, two home-care agencies, two senior housing complexes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 80,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. For more information, visit


Sean P. Dolan,
Diocese of Rockville Centre
516-678-5800, ext. 625