April 1, 2016

Priests renew promises, archbishop blesses oils at chrism Mass

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin ritually breathes upon chrism oil while blessing it on March 22 during the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Seminarian Timothy DeCrane, right, assists as an altar server during the liturgy. Oils used in sacraments and the consecration of altars and churches are blessed during the liturgy, which also includes priests renewing their ordination promises. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin ritually breathes upon chrism oil while blessing it on March 22 during the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Seminarian Timothy DeCrane, right, assists as an altar server during the liturgy. Oils used in sacraments and the consecration of altars and churches are blessed during the liturgy, which also includes priests renewing their ordination promises. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

In the coming year, countless sacramental celebrations in parishes and health care facilities across central and southern Indiana will be traced back to a series of blessings imparted on March 22, Tuesday of Holy Week, by Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

These blessings took place during the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass, when the archbishop blesses oils that are used in several sacraments and in the consecration of altars and churches. (Related: See a photo gallery from the Mass)

The oils blessed during that multi-lingual liturgy will bring people closer to Christ and the Church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, holy orders and the anointing of the sick.

Just prior to the blessing of the oils, some 130 priests who will celebrate these sacraments across the archdiocese in the coming year renewed the promises they made at their priestly ordination, when their hands were anointed with sacred chrism oil.

Archbishop Tobin spoke humbly of priestly ministry during his homily.

“We priests recognize our human limitations and weaknesses, yet for some reason known only to God, Jesus has chosen us to be his priests in ministry to his people,” he said. “In this Mass, we rededicate ourselves once again to serve God faithfully for you, our brothers and sisters.

“We ask you to support us in our ministry, which is essentially to preach well the word of God; to celebrate lovingly the sacraments of faith; to shepherd the people of God, caring also for the larger community.”

Transitional Deacon James Brockmeier assisted at the Mass and took special note when Archbishop Tobin blessed the chrism oil, since it will be placed on his hands and those of five other transitional deacons who will be ordained priests for the archdiocese on June 25 at the cathedral.

“It was neat to see the blessing, and to know how that blessing is going to bless my ministry and the ministry of my classmates as well,” said Deacon Brockmeier, a member of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis.

Seminarian Jeffrey Dufresne and the other archdiocesan seminarians in formation at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis and at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad also assisted at the Mass.

“It’s a special day to celebrate [the priestly vocation], and to aspire to it as well, as we see the priests renew their promises,” Dufresne said. “That’s a big inspiration, especially as a seminarian.”

The oil of the sick used in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick was also blessed during the chrism Mass.

Franciscan Sister Veronica Lopez values this oil in a special way since she serves the dying as a palliative care nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis. She was present at the chrism Mass to receive the holy oils for the hospital.

“I work with the dying, and some of my patients are Catholics,” said Sister Veronica, a member of the Mishawaka, Ind.-based Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. “So these oils will be used to anoint them. It’s a beautiful experience to be a part of the Mass by being present for the dying and representing the hospital and our sick.”

Representatives of parishes across central and southern Indiana also received oils to be used in the celebration of the sacraments in their faith communities over the coming year.

Adam Welp was present at the Mass for Holy Family Parish in New Albany and received its oils.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to receive the oils for the parish,” he said. “I like how all the parishes gather together for this observance, and how we can each take our own oils from the archbishop’s [cathedral] out to the parishes in the archdiocese.”

The oil of catechumens and the chrism oil blessed at the chrism Mass were used in parishes across the archdiocese four days later during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night when people were received into the full communion of the Church.

Cathi Barzilauskas witnessed the blessing of the chrism oil with which she was confirmed at St. Agnes Church in Nashville during the Bloomington Deanery faith community’s Easter Vigil.

She reflected before the chrism Mass on how she was looking forward to being received into the Church.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic about it,” Barzilauskas said. “I feel like I’m at home. This is where I’m supposed to be.”

This year’s chrism Mass also took place during the Holy Year of Mercy. Many people, including Barzilauskas, who took part in the liturgy, passed through the holy doors at the cathedral.

“It was humbling and very peaceful to walk through them,” she said.

During his homily, Archbishop Tobin reminded the congregation that mercy is at the heart of the mission of the Church that they are charged by their baptism to help carry out.

“Our mission is to transform the world in accord with the Gospel,” he said. “To work for the righteousness of the kingdom of God in all areas of human life. We live in a highly secularized society and world. We cannot forget that this is the world that God so loved, that God still loves.

“Together, we are stewards of God’s mercy.” †

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