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Red Mass brings professionals of the legal, judicial and governmental fields together to pray for guidance in pursuing justice
More than 100 people gathered at St. Augustine Cathedral on Oct. 3 for the Annual Red Mass, that in this diocese recognized the work of Deacon Rick Valencia and Col. Ernest (Skip) M. Skinner, Esq.
The Mass began with the tradition of the “Catholic Church dating back to the 13th century when it officially opened the term of the court for most European countries.
The tradition began in the United States in 1928.
Here in the Diocese of Tucson, the Mass is organized in collaboration with the the St. Thomas More Society of Southern Arizona, an organization that strives to provide a structure for lawyers, judicial officers, and law students of Southern Arizona to foster fellowship and continued ethical formation in the spirit of St. Thomas More in support of the Catholic Church and the Diocese of Tucson.
This year’s honorees were:
Colonel Ernest (Skip) M. Skinner, Esq. (posthumous award)
Beginning in 2002, Ernest Skinner served as a law clerk to the Hon. John M. Roll, Judge (later Chief Presiding Judge) of the District Court for the District of Arizona. During 2005 and 2006 Skinner was a prosecutor while serving as a deputy Pima County Attorney. In 2006, Skinner started service as a volunteer attorney with the Volunteer Lawyer Program, conducting Title 14 Guardianship clinics and Bankruptcy advice clinics. He also volunteered as supervising attorney for University of Arizona law students participating in the Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court. Skinner passed away on Oct.16, 2015.
Colleagues remember him for bringing the organizational skills he acquired as a colonel in the Air Force and as an A-10 wing commander. He also was a dedicated president of the St. Thomas More Society of Southern Arizona. He is further remembered for being willing to help always, and for often being the first to volunteer for service.
Arizona Attorney General Special Investigation Section (retired)
Deacon Rick Valencia began his career in law enforcement by joining the Arizona Department of Public Safety. He was first assigned to the Benson area of Cochise County as a Highway Patrol Officer from 1977 to 1992, then worked in the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) from 1992 to 2004; and left the Department after 27 years in August 2004 as a detective. During his assignment in CIB, He was assigned to the Cochise County Boarder Alliance Group Task Force, a multi-agency group covering narcotic enforcement along the southwest border. Many of his assignments included working in high risk covert operations that spanned the entire state of Arizona.
Valencia joined the Office of the Arizona Attorney General Special Investigation Section within the Criminal Division from February 2005 until he retired in 2015. During his 10 years of service with the Attorney General’s office, Valencia served as a Special Agent and was promoted to the position of Supervising Special Agent in charge of the Major Fraud Unit and the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section.
Since his June 2012 ordination as a Permanent Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, Deacon Valencia has served at his home parish, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Benson. He and his wife, Beverly, have been active on the Parish Board of Directors, the Parish Pastoral Council, Compliance Officer, Hospital Ministry, Knights of Columbus, Hospitality Ministry and the St. Vincent de Paul- St. Bernadette Conference.