April 25, 2014

Oils blessed and priests renew ordination promises at annual archdiocesan chrism Mass on April 15

Lisa Roll, right, receives holy oils from transitional Deacon Benjamin Syberg during the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass celebrated on April 15 in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Roll received the oils for her faith community, St. Michael Parish in Bradford in the New Albany Deanery. (Submitted photo)

Lisa Roll, right, receives holy oils from transitional Deacon Benjamin Syberg during the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass celebrated on April 15 in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Roll received the oils for her faith community, St. Michael Parish in Bradford in the New Albany Deanery. (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis is at the far northern end of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

St. Pius V Parish in Troy is close to its southern tip.

According to Google Maps, the two faith communities are a 190-mile drive apart that would take about three hours to complete.

But the members of the two parishes named after saintly popes named Pius are brought together as one in Christ.

That unity was on visible display on April 15 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis at the archdiocese’s annual chrism Mass, where representatives from both parishes came together in worship with Catholics from parishes and religious communities across central and southern Indiana. (Related: See a photo gallery from this Mass)

It was the Holy Week liturgy in which Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin blessed oils that are used in sacraments celebrated in parishes across central and southern Indiana in the coming year. Priests ministering in the archdiocese also renewed during the liturgy the promises they made at their ordination.

Kathleen Quisser is a member of St. Pius X Parish who attended the Mass. It’s been a regular part of her observance of Holy Week for years. After the Mass, she spoke of her appreciation of representatives from parishes across central and southern Indiana worshipping together.

“It’s inspiring to know how far our faith goes,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing and fulfilling to see it.”

Father Sengole Thomas Gnagnaraj, the administrator of St. Pius V Parish, as well St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in Bristow and St. Michael Parish in Cannelton, shared that appreciation.

“It’s always good to have the people from the parishes,” he said. “I felt very blessed to bring four of my parishioners [to the Mass].”

In his homily at the chrism Mass, Archbishop Tobin reflected on how the oils blessed during the liturgy are “essential elements of the sacramental life” of the parishes in which people are anointed and are given a share in the mission of Christ and the Church.

He noted that the oil of catechumens, with which people are anointed before their baptism, “reminds us of the journey of faith that begins with God’s gift.”

Archbishop Tobin then turned to the oil used in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. He recalled how Pope Francis has emphasized the Church’s ministry of healing and likened the Church in an interview last year to a field hospital after a battle where the faithful are to “ ‘heal the wounds, heal the wounds …’ ”

He then gave thanks for Catholics in central and southern Indiana who seek to further physical, mental and spiritual healing.

“We [also] pray for strength and wisdom for the pastoral leaders who heal the wounds that have resulted from the process of Connected in the Spirit,” continued Archbishop Tobin, referring to the ongoing planning process in which several parishes in central and southern Indiana have been merged with nearby faith communities.

He then reflected on the last oil to be blessed: sacred chrism. It is used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders, as well as in the dedication of churches.

“In consecrating holy chrism, we thank God for one another and all the faithful of the archdiocese, who share a common mission to make God visible for the world,” Archbishop Tobin said. “We commit ourselves to search for the doors God is opening for us, so that we might become a pathway by which others might find him.

“God has anointed us and sends us forth. We cannot return to him alone.”

After his homily, Archbishop Tobin led the approximately 145 priests present at the Mass in renewing their ordination promises.

The moment was special for retired Father John Geis, who is celebrating this year the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

“It always felt like whenever I made that commitment [at a chrism Mass] that it was like the beginning when I did it the first time,” Father Geis said.

For Father Douglas Marcotte, associate pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, it was the first time for him to renew the promises he made last May when he was ordained a priest.

He said the chrism Mass was a reminder that “I’m still doing the work of Jesus Christ and his Church as a priest. So, I need to be mindful that I am keeping those promises that I made in front of all the people that day in the cathedral on the day of my ordination.”

In a matter of weeks, Father Marcotte will witness the priestly ordination of his brother, transitional Deacon David Marcotte, who participated in the chrism Mass by presenting the oils to Archbishop Tobin to be blessed.

Speaking before the Mass, Deacon Marcotte said his thoughts were on the chrism oil that he would present, knowing that his hands would be anointed with it at his upcoming ordination.

“That is definitely something that I am happy to be a part of and to see firsthand,” he said. “It’s a very special Mass.”

Other people were anointed with the chrism blessed at the Mass sooner than the ordination on June 7. During Easter Vigils celebrated in parishes across the archdiocese at the culmination of Holy Week, catechumens are anointed with chrism as part of their baptism and during the sacrament of confirmation.

Jillian Vandermarks, director of religious education and faith formation at the St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington, received the oils for her faith community and noted the connection between what happened in the cathedral and what would happen at her parish’s church in a matter of days.

“It makes a real connection between here and there,” she said. “One of my catechumens will present the oils [at the parish] on Holy Thursday. I have walked with her this whole year. Their conversion is always an affirmation of my faith.” †

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