On Tuesday, Oct. 9, Bishop Jaime Soto will preside at the annual Red Mass in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento. The Red Mass is the traditional gathering of members of the legal profession and elected and appointed officials to invoke the aid of the spirit of God in their deliberations in the year to come.
Following the Red Mass, Bishop Soto will present the St. Thomas More Award to Angela M. Lai at a dinner event at the Sutter Club. Named in recognition of the patron saint of lawyers, the St. Thomas More Award is given to a member of the legal profession in the diocese who has shown integrity in the practice of law, leadership in the community, and faithfulness to gospel values in his or her personal and professional life.
Catholic Herald magazine recently spoke recently with last year’s recipient of the St. Thomas More Award, Deacon Eric Hintz of Holy Spirit Parish in Sacramento.
Q: How does your Catholic faith play a role in your work as an attorney?
A: As a criminal defense attorney, I am reminded daily of the importance of not being too quick to judge others. The vast majority of my clients are fundamentally good people who have gotten situationally caught up in the criminal justice system. My clients typically have friends and families, jobs and careers, and hopes and dreams that are impacted by their encounter with the criminal justice system. I try to treat each of my clients the way that I would want to be treated if I or a member of my family were the client.
Q: What did receiving the St. Thomas More Award mean to you?
A: Receiving the St Thomas More award in 2017 was both very humbling and a great honor. I am humbled because I know of many other Catholic lawyers and judges who have quietly done our Lord’s work without expectation of public recognition. At the same time, I am also honored to join the ranks of those previous recipients who have allowed themselves to be recognized for this important annual award.
Q: What are a few significant reflections on your discernment and journey to the permanent diaconate?
A: My journey to the diaconate is part of my larger faith journey which is continuing to unfold in ways that I could not have imagined 20 years ago. I have learned and am continuing to learn to trust the Holy Spirit. I now understand that God “draws straight with crooked lines” and that he has a plan for all of us. Rarely is that plan obvious. Life is a journey. We do not know how long our journey will last, where it will take us or where it will end. My challenge, our challenge, is to say yes to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis and to look for God in all things.
Q: How do you see yourself living out the deacon’s call to ministry of word, sacrament and charity?
A: A deacon is called to serve. As a minister of word, sacrament and charity, a deacon must be particularly sensitive to those on the margins of society. It is therefore impossible to separate the various aspects of the deacon’s call to service. There should be an inherent unity to the deacon’s life of service. In the words of Saint John Paul II, “the service of the deacon is the church’s service sacramentalized.”