The Most Reverend Mark L. Bartchak, Bishop of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, will be the speaker of the forty-sixth annual Red Mass, celebrated at noon on Friday, Sept. 20 at the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica. The event is jointly celebrated by Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt, J.C.D., Ph.D., on behalf of the Diocese of Greensburg, and Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., Ph.D. on behalf of Saint Vincent Archabbey, College and Seminary. The public is invited to attend the Mass.
The Red Mass has been celebrated since the thirteenth century, when it marked the official opening of the new term for courts in many European countries. Today, it honors Saint Thomas More, patron saint of statesmen and politicians, along with current protectors and administrators of the law from members of the bench to law enforcement, legislation and governmental agencies.
The Mass was first introduced in the United States in 1928, and has been jointly sponsored by the Diocese of Greensburg and Saint Vincent Archabbey since 1968. Every year, judges, lawyers and political leaders alike come together to ask for enlightenment as servants of the law so that they may more effectively pursue justice and freedom for all.
Bishop Bartchak, who was installed as the eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in 2011, has a long history in church administration. After being ordained a priest in 1981, he served as parochial vicar for multiple parishes, and was assigned to the Tribunal of the Diocese of Erie in 1986. While in Erie, Bishop Bartchak was an ex-officio member of the presbyteral council, the administrative cabinet and various diocesan committees. He also served as chaplain to the Saint Thomas More Society in Erie.
In 2004, he was appointed to the Administrative Board of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, and in 2007 he was appointed as a consultant for the USCCB Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. His published articles and nationwide lectures along with seminars and workshops focus on canon law in the United States. He is a member of the Canon Law Society of America, where he was elected to the Board of Governors (1999) and served as vice president (2002-2003) and president (2003-2004) while representing the society at Vatican meetings.