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Portland Red Mass event & Clarence Thomas

September 5, 2013

University of Portland to host U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and annual Red Mass on Thursday, September 19
University of Portland
Oregon’s top Catholic University

University of Portland will host U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the annual Red Mass on Thursday, September 19. Prior to the Mass, Justice Thomas will appear at 4 p.m. in the Chiles Center on campus, 5000 N. Willamette Blvd. The event, “A Conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” will feature Justice Thomas answering questions from University of Portland political science professors Gary Malecha and William Curtis.

The University’s Red Mass will follow at 5:30 p.m. in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher on campus. Presiding at the Mass will be The Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample, Archbishop of Portland.

Both events are free and open to the public. There will be general seating, and tickets are not required. Attendees are asked to arrive early in order to allow sufficient time to clear security, and large bags or backpacks will not be allowed.

Following the public events, a private dinner for the law community will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Bauccio Commons. Tickets to the dinner and lecture are $100 per person or $1,000 for a table of ten. RSVP for the dinner is requested by September 10 and can be made by calling Jamie Powell at (503) 943-7702.

The practice of the Red Mass dates back to the Thirteenth Century in Paris and London. The Mass, requesting the guidance of the Holy Spirit for all who administer justice, has been celebrated in the United States since 1938.

Justice Thomas has been an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court since 1991 when he was nominated by President George H.W. Bush. Raised in Savannah, Georgia, he initially intended to become a priest and studied at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Missouri. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, Justice Thomas enrolled at College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts where he studied English literature and became involved in social causes, including campaigns for civil rights and protests against the Vietnam War. He went on to graduate from Yale University Law School and write the bestseller My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir.

Malecha has been at the University for 21 years and teaches a wide range of courses in American politics and American political thought. He chairs the Department of Political Science and is coauthor of The Public Congress: Congressional Deliberation in a New Media Age, published by Routledge Press in 2012.

Curtis teaches courses on political theory, the history of political thought, and constitutional law. He practiced corporate and real estate law in Denver from 1995-1996 and clerked for four months for Justice Rebecca Love-Kourlis of the Colorado Supreme Court. Curtis returned to academia to pursue his interest in political philosophy.

Archbishop Sample was recently installed as the 11th archbishop of Portland this past April. He was ordained a priest in 1990 and has served in several parish assignments before moving to Rome, Italy to earn a degree in Canon Law in the mid-90’s. Upon returning to the diocese he held a number of duties in the chancery office. In 2006 he was ordained Bishop of Marquette, Mich.

The evening’s events are sponsored by the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture. For more information about the Mass or dinner, please contact Jamie Powell at (503) 943-7702 or

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