Catholic Lawyers Guild grows

By Alicja Pozywio | Staff writer
Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago, which creates opportunities for its members to pray and serve the church and the poor, is working to revitalize itself.

“We want to establish services and committees where the lawyers can give back to the community,” said James Convery, president of the guild since 2010.

It is reaching out to new members — especially targeting the younger generation of lawyers — and has a number of younger members on the board, said Deacon Daniel Welter, a 35-year legal veteran and associate chaplain of the guild. Welter, a retired judge, also serves as auditor for the Canonical Services of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

To encourage its members in prayer, the guild each year sponsors the Red Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, a tradition that comes from the Middle Ages. “It was the opening of the equity court in France and England. The judge at this time was the local bishop, so the court sessions were opened by having Mass,” said Welter.

The guild also offers a daylong retreat for members each year, Convery said, with talks, dialogue, the sacrament of reconciliation and Mass with Cardinal George.

During its 77-year tenure in archdiocese, the guild has done a great deal of pro bono work for the archbishops of Chicago, including holding hearings for the faithful to share their experiences and their views on the clergy sex-abuse crisis in 2002. The guild members who held the hearings then reported back to Cardinal George, Welter said.

Guild members have also provided pro bono services to immigrants at the request of previous archbishops and have done some work for Catholic Charities. “We have a loose affiliation, which we hope to strengthen with the legal assistance program at Catholic Charities,” said Welter.

Convery believes that being a member of the guild is beneficial to lawyers. “The guild gives an opportunity to interact with other Catholic lawyers on a social and spiritual level. It also creates an opportunity to have a dialog in which we can express various aspects of faith,” he said.

The Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago is having an event on July 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Grand Salon at Trump Towers, with a goal of increasing membership. The guild offers free membership to law students and discounted dues for first-year lawyers, Convery said.

He is convinced that expanding the number of members will help “to make the guild more present in the Archdiocese of Chicago and in the city.”