The following is Bishop Malooly’s prepared text for his April 10 Chrism Mass homily at Holy Cross Church in Dover. Each year at the Chrism Mass the bishop blesses the oil of the Sick and the oil of the Catechumens and consecrates the chrism, a mixture of balsam and oil, that’s used for baptisms, confirmations and ordinations during the coming year at parishes in the diocese.
Bishop Malooly blesses the holy oils during the Chrism Mass April 10 at Holy Cross Church in Dover. (The Dialog)
This is my ninth Chrism Mass. As I have said before, for some reason this is always a very significant moment of transition for me. Almost like the beginning of a new year. Tonight, we bless the sacramental oils and my brothers and I renew our priestly commitment. Today, even as we celebrate priesthood and bless the sacramental oils, I am very grateful for all who serve our church.
For this Chrism Mass, I look ahead with hope and I look back with gratitude. We have weathered together many challenges. I especially want to thank my brother priests for their support, faith, leadership and positive outlook. You have kept your parishes and ministries alive and vibrant in some difficult years.
And now we continue to celebrate with Pope Francis as he enters his fifth year. As we are moving ahead in Wilmington, he has the church moving ahead. When Jesus began his public ministry, he returned to Galilee and we hear that the power of the Spirit was with him as he quotes from the prophet Isaiah and the news about him spread throughout the whole region. He outlined clearly how he would live. Pope Francis has done the same in both words and actions and indicated what he expects of us.
Jesus’ mission reached out to all people, especially to those in need: the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, echoes this for us, telling us to go out to the peripheries, as Christ did. Our lives must reach out to accompany others.
Today, that requires us to advocate on behalf of our immigrants and refugees – our brothers and sisters in Christ – no matter where they are from, children of our God. We welcome them and support them. I have visited many of our Hispanic communities in the past year to encourage them. And our bishops’ conference nationally works everyday on Capitol Hill, advocating on their behalf.
To continue Jesus’ mission as a diocese, we have set our goals for the coming years — vocations, catechesis, evangelization, and some slightly new models of ministry. We are moving; we are making progress.
I would, once again, appeal to all of us at this Chrism Mass and throughout Holy Week to intensify our efforts to pray for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. I am grateful for the work of Father Norm Carroll and his ever growing vocation team of priests. The more of our priests who celebrate the good news of their call, with joy, the more we will attract others.
Tonight, we gather with some of our catechumens and candidates as we did earlier here at the Rite of Election. As in every year they energize the rest of us. As a church we continue to grow even as Mass attendance in some places declines. Our new members step forward because they have found the truth.
Talking about energy and life – if you were not at our eighth annual youth pilgrimage this past Saturday – the theme “Love without Measure” – you missed a wonderful opportunity to have your faith reinforced by the youth and young adults of our diocese. We had 800 people marching, carrying the cross, and witnessing to their faith. They celebrated reconciliation, took part in the Stations of the Cross, spent time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and carried the blessed palm from St. Hedwig to celebrate Mass at St. Elizabeth. For me, it is always a remarkable way to begin Holy Week and connect with our present and future church. You can’t help but be caught up in hope.
During this week we will once again remember, commemorate and celebrate the sacred mysteries of our redemption.
On Thursday we will gather to celebrate the Eucharist, commemorating that first Eucharist at the Last Supper, while at the same time we will be focused on washing one another’s feet. Both go together; Jesus comes to each of us to encourage us to serve the needs of his brothers and sisters.
On Good Friday, we will celebrate our Lord’s suffering and death that selfless gift that gives each of us eternal life. It is our core message and God’s greatest gift. At the vigil and on Easter Sunday, we will remember the joy of that first Easter. And the disciples and holy men and women with the power received from the Holy Spirit at Pentecost used the simple tools of words, faces, and conviction to spread the message and did so extremely well.
Two thouand and some years later, it is our turn. We are encouraged by the Lord’s presence among us. We are truly blessed. Let us share, speak, and witness that good news to others.
For us priests and for all of us the Eucharist is the center of our lives and our love for the Eucharist deepens and broadens over time. To move into a deeper relationship with Christ for all of us 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.
When I was installed as your bishop on September 8, 2008, I said, “I will lead but I want to walk with you and I want you to walk with me.” I actually bumbled the words but you knew what I meant and you have done the walk. I had no idea then how complex the walk would be for all of us. The walk will continue to be challenging in different ways than earlier. I need you to continue to walk with me and I thank you for that. God bless you all. And thank you. Amen.