2016 Red Mass Speaker Louis E. Wagner, Jr.


The Diocese of Greensburg and Saint Vincent Archabbey, College and Seminary will hold the 49th Annual Red Mass in honor of Saint Thomas More for the members of the Bench and Bar at noon Friday, October 7 at The Bishop Connare Center, Greensburg. Keynote speaker will be Louis E. Wagner, Jr., Esq., executive director of SpiritLife, Inc.

SpiritLife is a start-up non-profit drug and alcohol treatment facility located on a 208-acre campus outside Indiana, Pennsylvania. SpiritLife is a faith-based, non-denominational organization, operating a 44-bed inpatient, non-hospital facility that provides short-term detoxification treatment, residential treatment and rehabilitative services for adults suffering from substance use disorders. SpiritLife supports all pathways to long-term recovery and offers a progressive, holistic network of programs and resources aimed at promoting personal and family renewal, social reintegration and long-term spiritual, mental and physical recovery for those afflicted and affected by addictions. SpiritLife opened its treatment facilities in October 2015 and will have cared for more than 700 clients in its first year of operation.

Wagner is a member of the Ongoing Task Force convened in 2014 by David J. Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, to study and develop a plan to reduce the epidemic levels of opioid deaths and increase effective action in the areas of prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery. On September 29, 2014, this group submitted its Final Report and Recommendations to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. These recommendations contributed to the framework for President Barack Obama’s Proposal to Congress for $1.1 billion in new funding to address the prescription opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic and to the comprehensive “DEA 360 Strategy” currently deployed in Western Pennsylvania (as one of five pilot areas nationally) to improve coordination among law enforcement, diversion control (drug manufacturers, practitioners and pharmacists) and community organizations and resources.

Wagner was invited to serve as a member of a Roundtable Panel made up of state and local officials, law enforcement, emergency responders and other treatment professionals convened by Governor Tom Wolf in Indiana to discuss initiatives, funding and treatment capacity needed to combat the opioid abuse and heroin crisis in Pennsylvania.

Prior to SpiritLife, Wagner had a 20-year career in the corporate sector working as executive vice president and general counsel for Keywell LLC, Chicago, as well as counsel for Armco, Inc., in Pittsburgh. He holds a bachelor of arts degree, cum laude, in political science from Duquesne University and a juris doctor from Duquesne University School of Law. He resides in Venetia, Pennsylvania.

The Red Mass has a long history within the Catholic Church dating back to the 13th century when it marked the official opening of the new term for courts in most European countries.

The participants in the celebration of the Red Mass—clergy, government officials, lawyers and judges—would process into the church clothed in red vestments, signifying their plea for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in pursuing justice in their daily lives.

This tradition was introduced in the United States at the Church of Saint Andrew in New York City in 1928. It was presided over by His Eminence Patrick Cardinal Hayes, who strongly encouraged the members of the entire legal community to give witness to the Word of God through their commitment to justice for all.

The Red Mass is currently celebrated throughout the United States to invoke God’s blessings upon the members of the bench, bar, legislature, law enforcement and government agencies—all protectors and administrators of the Law. The Red Mass is attended by judges, lawyers, political leaders and officials of all faiths who come together to ask God to bless, strengthen and enlighten them as servants of the Law so that in cooperation and mutual trust they may more effectively pursue justice and freedome for all.

The Diocese of Greensburg and Saint Vincent Archabbey, College and Seminary have jointly sponsored the Red Mass in this diocese since 1968.