For The Dialog
DOVER – Sheila Connor was deeply moved by the annual Chrism Mass at Holy Cross Church on April 10, during which Bishop Malooly blessed the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of the Catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism, all used for various sacraments and milestones in the faith of Catholics and their parish churches.
Her son, 14-year-old Connor, will be anointed with the Sacred Chrism when Bishop Malooly confirms him this spring. And some of her family, who attend Holy Cross, may well need the Oil of the Sick in coming months and years.
The Chrism Mass “comes at a time in our family life when we are dealing with some major struggles,” she said. “It just gave me great peace.”
The diocesan Mass is traditionally celebrated at the start of Holy Week, which commemorates the Last Supper at which Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and established the Eucharist on Holy Thursday; Jesus’ passion and death on Good Friday, and culminates with Jesus’s resurrection, celebrated on Easter Sunday.
Since the church teaches that Jesus instituted the priesthood during the Last Supper, when he told his disciples to “do this in memory of me,” more than 60 priests serving in the diocese renewed their priestly promises during the Mass.
Pray for vocations
In his homily, Bishop Malooly asked for increased prayers for priestly and consecrated life vocations; called for Catholics to spread the word that Jesus provides, as the Apostles and other first disciples did; asked that they commit themselves more fully to the Eucharist.
The call for prayers for vocations came after he noted that the diocese set as goals for coming years vocations, catechesis (religious education and formation), evangelization and “some slightly new models of ministry,” all outlined in “Together in the Spirit: A Pastoral Vision” issued by Bishop Malooly last May. Those new models involve different styles of parish leadership because of a decline in priestly vocations and the graying of the priesthood, leaving fewer priests to staff the parishes.
“I appeal to all of us … to intensify our efforts to pray for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life,” he said.
The early disciples, renewed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, began to spread the word by using “the simple tools of words, faces and conviction to spread the message, and they did so extremely well. Two-thousand and some years later, it is our turn,” he said.
“We are encouraged by the Lord’s presence among us. We are truly blessed. Let us share, speak, witness that good news to others.”
He called for Catholics to “move into a deeper relationship with Christ,” which means “moving more deeply into the Eucharist. When people come to you, let them see Jesus in you. That is why it is so important for all of us to recommit ourselves to the celebration of the Eucharist.”
Some of the catechumens, who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil Mass, and candidates, who will receive Communion and the sacrament of confirmation for full entry into the church, attended the Mass at Holy Cross.
“As in every year, they energize us,” Bishop Malooly said. “Our new members step forward because they have found the truth.”
The bishop mentioned another source of faith energy, the Youth Pilgrimage April 8 when some 800 young people marched through a section of Wilmington and participated in the Stations of the Cross, reconciliation and Eucharistic adoration, and Mass.
Bishop Malooly said that during the Youth Pilgrimage, he called Richard Jasper, a transitional deacon, to his priestly ordination on May 20.
Those who weren’t at the pilgrimage, the bishop said, “missed a wonderful opportunity to have your faith reinforced by the youth and young adults of our diocese.”
One girl who lives along the march route near St. Paul Church definitely has a positive view of Catholics following the pilgrimage, the bishop said. She was celebrating her eighth birthday with a party, and the entire party went to watch the marchers pass her house. The youth and young adult pilgrims sang Happy Birthday to her not once, but twice, first by the group at the front of the procession and then by the back portion.
Given the opportunity to impress so many young people, Bishop Malooly said he could not resist calling Jasper to ordination since he was at the pilgrimage, rather than waiting for the Chrism Mass.
Oils for parishes
Following Mass, parish representatives had vessels reserved for the oils filled for their local churches.
Debra Meinhardt of St. Luke-St. Andrew in Ocean City, Md., said it was her third or fourth time to obtain the oils for its two churches. “I feel honored to represent my parish, to get the oils that are such a special part of our parish.”
Not all who attended came to return the oils to their parishes. About 10 members of the Ortiz family of St. Michael the Archangel in Georgetown came to experience so many priests together and witness the blessing of the oils.
“It was beautiful,” Myrna said of the Mass.
Her sister Dulce, 20, described it as a transcendental experience. “I felt like I was with God, like I was in heaven.”
For The Dialog