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Priesthood, sacramental oils at center of Chrism Mass


Dialog Editor


DOVER – More than 70 priests of the Diocese of Wilmington joined with Bishop Malooly to concelebrate the Chrism Mass March 30 at Holy Cross Church in Dover.

The clergy, including deacons, and a standing-room-only congregation attended the Holy Week Mass, which commemorates the institution of the priesthood by Christ at the Last Supper.

The Mass is named for the annual blessing of the sacramental oils and sacred chrism used during the church year.

Bishop Malooly noted in his homily that the holy chrism he consecrated during the Mass is used “to anoint the newly baptized, to seal the candidates for confirmation and to anoint the hands of presbyters (priests) and the heads of bishops at their ordinations,” as well as anointing for the dedication of churches and altars.

The oil of catechumens blessed by the bishop is used in preparation of the catechumens for baptism. The oil of the sick is used in the comfort and support of the sick in their infirmity.

Bishop Malooly blesses the sacred chrism during the March 30 Chrism Mass at Holy Cross Church in Dover.
Bishop Malooly blesses the sacred chrism during the March 30 Chrism Mass at Holy Cross Church in Dover.

The Mass, the bishop said, is “a time to welcome new members, to bless and consecrate the sacramental oils and to have my brothers and myself renew our priestly commitment.

“Today as we celebrate, I am very grateful for so many women and men in consecrated life, who offer us such powerful witness in different ministries.”

(See the full text of Bishop Malooly’s homily at http://thedialog.org/ ?p=25121)

“With this Chrism Mass, I look forward with hope,” the bishop said. “I look back with gratitude. I especially want to thank my brother priests for their support, their faith, their leadership and their positive outlook. You have kept your parishes and ministries alive and vibrant.

“Yesterday, Pope Francis, to the youth of the world, said, ‘Have the courage to be happy.’ And I ask the same of you. It’s not always easy for us but it’s so important to continue to bring joy to where you minister.”

Bishop Malooly also specifically thanked the priests of the diocese for supporting the Sustaining Hope for the Future capital campaign that raised more than $31 million.

The campaign “was successful because the pastors made it successful in parishes,” the bishop said. “For that, I’m very grateful.”

Taking the readings from the Mass, Bishop Malooly noted Jesus quoted from Isaiah at the start of his public ministry:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. Because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Jesus reached out and served the needs of all he met during his ministry, the bishop said.

“When we look at Pope Francis’ agenda and how he deals with all kinds of people, especially the poor and needy, you see a very similar model as we hear in Isaiah and see in Jesus.”

The bishop asked the congregation “to intensify our efforts to pray for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.

“I am grateful for the work Father Dave Kelley and his vocation team of priests do. I also thank my brother priests who have been working with the Come and Seek program for the gathering together of young men with a group of priests just to sit down and discuss (the priesthood).

“My four seminarians — and I wish there were more but they are outstanding — are here this evening,” Bishop Malooly said.

Two days before the Chrism Mass, the bishop accompanied more than 1,100 young people on a cross pilgrimage through the streets of Wilmington. Their enthusiasm was a sign young people understand Pope Francis’ challenge to have the courage to be happy in their faith.

Bishop Malooly said that more than 2,000 years after the first Easter, we are still “encouraged by the Lord’s presence among us. … He asked very little of us. I think he wants us to do what the early disciples did: to speak the Good News to others that Jesus suffered, died and rose that we might have eternal life. No more complex, no simpler, just simple fact: Jesus suffered, died and rose that we might have eternal life.”

The bishop asked the congregation to share that message with “your friends who might not be as connected to the Lord as you are.”

Joanna Keller attended the Chrism Mass from St. Ann’s Parish in Bethany Beach. She also was there to take an allotment of the blessed oils and consecrated chrism back to her parish.

Keller, head of the RCIA program at St. Ann’s, said this year’s Easter Vigil at the parish will see five catechumens and two candidates enter the church.

Miriam Carillo, 17, and her sister Marlene, 15, were happy to see the holy oils blessed by Bishop Malooly because they will be baptized and confirmed during the Easter Vigil at Holy Cross this week.

They are two of the six people at the parish who will fully join the faith. The Chrism Mass was “really nice,” Miriam said.