St. Thomas More award-winners to be recognized at 20th annual Red Mass at cathedral

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor

FALL RIVER, Mass. — In 1997, while serving as Bishop of the Fall River Diocese, the future Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., inaugurated a Red Mass to invoke the Holy Spirit’s guidance and strength on those working in areas of law and justice.

With hopes of it becoming a diocesan tradition, then-Bishop O’Malley’s wishes became reality, and on September 24 he will celebrate the 20th annual Fall River Diocese’s Red Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River.

The Red Mass has a long history in the Catholic Church, originating in 13th-century Europe, its name coming from the color vestments customarily worn by the celebrants. Currently, Red Masses are commonly celebrated across the U.S. 

All working in the legal system across Southeastern Massachusetts are invited to the Mass for a blessing and to recognize five of their peers who will receive the St. Thomas More Award, acknowledging their dedicated service to the profession.

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., and planning committee chairman New Bedford attorney Michael Harrington recently announced this year’s recipients:

Distinguished Jurist — the Honorable Kathryn E. Hand;

Distinguished Attorney — Frank C. Corso, Esq.;

Distinguished Court Employee — Michael Borden;

Distinguished Ecumenical Award Recipient — Margaret Xifaras, Esq.;

Joseph P. Harrington Founder’s Award — Father Jay T. Maddock.

The award, unique to the Fall River Diocese’s Red Mass, is named for St. Thomas More, an English layman and lawyer of the 16th century, who was executed for his opposition to the request of King Henry VIII for a divorce, and for refusal to renounce papal authority.

The awards will be presented following the Mass.


For the past 20 years Michael Borden has been a probation officer in the Fall River Division of the Trial Court. 

In 2006 he was recognized by the Commissioner of Probation for exemplary work in the community and dedication to the profession. That same year he initiated Project Lights Out, which tracks sex offenders on Halloween to ensure the safety of the community.

He has been a team leader of the Probation Warrant Apprehension Team for the past 15 years. He was recognized last year by the National Alliance of Mental Illness for outstanding service with the mentally ill.

He is a long-standing member and volunteer of Southcoast YMCA, and for years has been involved with distributing Thanksgiving baskets and working with a Christmas Toy drive. He was the Fall River YMCA Volunteer of the Year in 2015.

He and his wife Gail reside in Fall River and are members of St. Michael Parish.


Attorney Corso is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. and he and his wife currently reside in Rehoboth. They have five children.

He leads Corso Law, LLC, with offices in Rehoboth and Boston.

In Martindale & Hubbell and other ratings he was named AV (highest), Massachusetts Super Lawyer, and one of Boston Magazine’s Top Lawyers in Massachusetts.

He was admitted to practice in Massachusetts, and for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in 1985, and for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1991.

He is admitted Pro Hac Vice for Trial in the courts of N.Y. (state and federal courts), Conn., N.H., R.I., and Fla.

He has experience in catastrophic injury and wrongful death trial and appeal in all Massachusetts state and federal courts; before local land use authorities; and general corporate practice counseling with a diverse business clientele.

He received a Juris Doctorate from the New England School of Law in Boston, and attended State University of N.Y. and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

He was editor of New England Law Review, was New England Scholar, and received the Amos L. Taylor Award for Excellence in Academic Achievement.

He has taught at New England School of Law and Massachusetts School of Law.

Attorney Corso is credited with several publications and is or has been a member of a number of Massachusetts law academies and associations. He is also the recipient of the first-ever Robert Morris Award for Courageous Advocacy presented by the American Board of Trial Advocates.


Judge Hand presides at Massachusetts Trial Court, District Court Department in Barnstable. Her roles at the Barnstable location include: Regional Administrative Justice, Region I; Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Southern District; Supreme Judicial Court Access to Justice Commission; Supreme Judicial Court Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure; Acting First Justice, Nantucket District Court; District Court Civil Proceedings Committee member; and New Judge Mentor of the District Court Mentoring Program.

She is the former Norfolk County district attorney in Dedham.

She attended Boston College School of Law and Harvard University.

Judge Hand has served on numerous committees and has been a faculty member of a number of universities, institutes and conferences. She is also the co-author, with Patricia L. Kelley, Esq., of “Emotional Distress, Massachusetts’ Tort Handbook,” MCLE.

She is a parishioner of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Centerville.


Father Maddock is pastor of Holy Name Parish and pastoral administrator of St. Bernadette’s Parish, both in Fall River.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Fall River by Bishop Daniel A. Cronin on Aug. 2, 1975.

He received a licentiate in canon law in 1979 from the Gregorian University in Rome and worked in parishes and in the Chancery Office and Diocesan Tribunal. Bishop Cronin appointed him Judicial Vicar of the diocese in 1989.

Father Maddock dedicated 21 years of his priesthood to service at the tribunal, all the while serving at various parishes in the diocese. He stepped down as Judicial Vicar in 2001, and continues to assist in tribunal work today.

One of Father Maddock’s passions has been serving as director of the diocesan Catholic Youth Organization since 1986. He has served several terms on the Priests Personnel Board, and is currently a member of the Presbyteral Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council.

Father Maddock was dean of the Taunton Deanery from 2003-2010, and has been dean of the Fall River Deanery since 2010. He also represents the bishop at certain events when requested to do so.


Attorney Xifaras is a partner in the law firm of Lang, Xiafaras & Bullard in New Bedford, with a general practice of civil litigation with special emphasis on family law, wills, trusts and estates; as well as consumer protection and small business organization.

She attended Boston University School of Law, receiving the Book Award-Highest Grade in Criminal Procedure and Publication Award-Highest Grade in Judicial Interns.

Xifaras also earned degress from Southeastern Mass. University (now UMass Dartmouth), Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the University of Illinois.

She has served as Special Assistant to former Governor Michael Dukakis; Special Assistant District Attorney, Bristol County; Regional Administration Assistant, Congressman Gerry Studds; and as a private attorney.

Xifaras has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Malawi, South Central Africa.

She was named Southcoast Woman of the Year for advocacy related to UMass School of Law; was program president of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation; has served on various panels and committees.

In the community, Xifaras is a board member and officer for Southcoast YMCA; a contributor and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity; and received community service awards from the Bristol County Bar Association and the Big Sister Association.

She is married with three children and six grandchildren.

All are welcome to attend the Red Mass. A reception and dinner will follow for which a ticket is required. 

For information, please contact Atty. Harrington at 508-994-5900.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts