Annual Red Mass recognizing justice system workers is October 11


FALL RIVER, Mass. — Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., will celebrate the annual Red Mass in the Fall River Diocese at 10 a.m., October 11, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River.

A long-standing tradition in the Church, the Red Mass is celebrated each year in the diocese to invoke God’s guidance and strength on those who work to promote justice in the legal system.

Judges, attorneys and others working in the justice system throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands are invited to attend.

The Red Mass will conclude with the presentation of the St. Thomas More Award to members of the area legal community to recognize dedicated service.

Selected for the honors this year are, as distinguished jurist, Judge Phillip Rapoza, retired Chief Justice, Massachusetts Appeals Court; as distinguished attorney, Robert J. Donahue of Yarmouthport; as distinguished court employee, Daryl G. Manchester, Clerk Magistrate, Wareham District Court; as distinguished recipient of the ecumenical award, Judge Peter Smola, First Justice, Dukes County Probate and Family Court; and as distinguished recipient of the Joseph P. Harrington Founder’s Award, attorney Matthew J. Bresette of Hyannis.

The Red Mass is so named because of the color of the vestments worn during the Liturgy, which is the Mass of the Holy Spirit, Who will be invoked upon those in attendance. Its roots date back to 13th-century Europe, and it is widely celebrated in dioceses throughout the U.S.

The St. Thomas More Awards are unique to the Red Mass celebration in the Fall River Diocese. They are named for St. Thomas More, a 16th-century English layman and lawyer martyred for opposition to the divorce of King Henry VIII and for refusing to renounce papal authority. 

Recipients were nominated for the award by the Red Mass planning committee of judges, attorneys, court personnel and priests from across the diocese, headed by New Bedford attorney Michael J. Harrington.

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Judge Rapoza retired from the bench in June after 23 years as a member of the Massachusetts judiciary. First named to serve as a trial judge on the Fall River District Court in 1992, he was subsequently appointed to the Massachusetts Superior Court and then in 1998 to the Massachusetts Appeals Court. In 2006, he became Chief Justice of the Appeals Court.

Earlier in his career, he was an assistant district attorney in Suffolk and Bristol counties and later a partner in law firms in Fall River and New Bedford. 

In addition to his judicial service, Rapoza has been a leader in the field of international criminal justice. He took an unpaid leave of absence from the bench for two years to work as an international judge on a United Nations war crimes tribunal prosecuting crimes against humanity in East Timor and was later appointed to serve on a war crimes tribunal in Cambodia. He has also participated in UN-sponsored justice initiatives in Haiti and Mozambique.

He has frequently returned to East Timor to assist in U.N. efforts to support the country’s justice system. In 2012, he was selected by the U.S. State Department to serve as one of two U.S. observers of the country’s parliamentary elections, and in November he will travel again to East Timor to lead a program on judicial independence. 

Rapoza is president of the Switzerland-based International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation and, in that capacity, presented an address on the treatment of offenders and the challenge of mass incarceration to Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2014. (The address appeared in last week’s Anchor.)

For his service to justice in the U.S. and abroad, he has received several international awards as well as recognition from a number of legal professional associations. In 2002, he was awarded the rank of Commander in the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator by the president of Portugal.

Judge Rapoza earned his law degree from Cornell Law School.

A resident of New Bedford, he is the father of two sons and grandfather of one.

Chief Justice Rapoza is the only Portuguese-American judge to serve at the appellate level in Massachusetts. A leader in his ethnic community, he is involved in many Portuguese-American educational, charitable and cultural activities. He is a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in New Bedford.

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Attorney Donahue has practiced general law on Cape Cod for more than 50 years and received the Lifetime Service Award last year from the Barnstable County Bar Association as well as recognition from the Massachusetts Bar Association.

A graduate of Boston College Law School, he began as an associate in the Hyannis firm of Fern and Anderson, becoming a partner after three years and remaining with firm as it evolved over many years. For a good part of the 1980s, he served as counsel to the Sheriff of Barnstable County. He currently maintains a sole practice.

Since 1987 he has been pro bono lawyer of the day on the last Friday of each month at Barnstable Probate and Family Court and now also offers pro bono conciliator services for the Barnstable County Bar Association of which he is an active member and past president.

Donahue, who resides in Centerville, has a long record of  community and civic involvement: decades-long moderator of the Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills Fire District; Centerville Public Library trustee; Hyannis Public Library president-emeritus; leadership roles in Cape Cod regional chapters of the American Red Cross and American Cancer Society; and former Barnstable Town Meeting representative.

He is a parishioner of Our Lady of Victory Parish, Centerville, where he is a lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and founder and leader of its annual Thanksgiving blood drive. Since 1992, he has participated in the Residents Encounter Christ program at the Barnstable County correctional facilities.

He and his wife Patricia have three daughters and two sons.

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Clerk Magistrate Manchester’s years of service to the Massachusetts Trial Court Wareham Division go back to 1981 when he was appointed as its first Assistant Clerk Magistrate. In 2001, he became Clerk Magistrate.

Prior to his Wareham appointment, he was Assistant Clerk Magistrate in the New Bedford Division of the Massachusetts Trial Court.

He studied law at Suffolk University Law School and after graduation had a part-time law practice for two years.

A resident of Fairhaven for 61 years, he has served on the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals since 1978. In addition, he has been a Town Meeting member and a coach for several Fairhaven youth athletic programs.

He and his wife Patricia attend St. Joseph Parish in that town. They are the parents of two sons and a daughter and are grandparents of three. 

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Judge Smola was appointed First Justice of Duke’s County Probate and Family Court last June after serving for almost two years as an associate justice of the Bristol County Probate and Family Court.

He practiced law for 35 years before his appointment to the bench with offices in New Bedford and concentrated in all matters of civil litigation. He also served as an arbitrator and court mediator.

Through the years, he has been active in various pro bono efforts within the Greater New Bedford legal community including serving as General Counsel to the New Bedford Legal Aid Society.

He is married to Elizabeth Smola, and they have two sons.

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Attorney Bresette is managing partner of the Hyannis office of Nutter, McClennen & Fish, LLP, of Boston and Hyannis, and concentrates his practice in the area of trusts and estates. 

He worked as a commercial boat captain for seven years before entering the legal profession in 2001. He holds a law degree from the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

A resident of Barnstable, Bresette contributes a great deal of time to service on several non-profit boards, including South Coastal Counties Legal Services; Cape Cod Times Needy Fund; Cape Cod Child Development of which he is the current board chairman; and clerk of the board of the Cape Cod Foundation, a charitable community trust that provides funding to the region’s non-profit organizations. 

He was among organizers of the Pathfinder ministry program at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Centerville which offers parishioners assistance in navigating the legal system.

He is married to Allison Schiffmann Bresette. They have one daughter and twin sons.

All are welcome at the Red Mass. A reception and luncheon will follow for which a ticket is required. For information, please contact Atty. Harrington at 508-994-5900.

© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts