WILMINGTON — Bishop Malooly joined dozens of his priests April 20 at the Cathedral of St. Peter for the annual Chrism Mass, where the clerics renew their vows and the sacred oils used for sacraments are blessed and distributed. It was his second public Mass after returning to work after heart surgery, and he shared his humor at the outset.
“It’s an honor to have so many of my brother priests here to celebrate my third final Chrism Mass,” the bishop joked. He submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in January 2019 and is waiting for a successor to be appointed.
Bishop Malooly began his homily by recognizing those in attendance, both in person and virtually, who also helped the Diocese of Wilmington with its ministry. He mentioned the religious-order priests, permanent deacons and their spouses, educators, seminarians and others. Many of them, he said, were watching the Mass online.
“There are so many others who are part of what we do,” he told the priests.
He specifically thanked Msgr. Steven Hurley, vicar general and moderator of the curia, who took over the day-to-day operations of the diocese during the bishop’s recovery. That task was something Bishop Malooly had to do several times when he was the vicar general in Baltimore under the late Cardinal William Keeler.
“It was never an easy task,” he said.
Several retired priests, a few of whom were at the cathedral, also received special mention, as did Msgr. Joseph Rebman, the oldest active priest in the diocese. He is retiring effective May 10.
The priests, he continued, deserved accolades for their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
“You have kept your parishes alive in this difficult time,” he said.
Bishop Malooly referred to the day’s readings, including the first reading from Isaiah, which he often uses at confirmations. The message is to take the gifts God has given us and share them with others, which is what those in church ministry do.
Those efforts must continue, the bishop said, in trying times. The Chrism Mass, he added, is an opportunity to continue God’s sacramental work. The oils that were blessed will be used for baptisms, confirmations and anointing of the sick over the next year at each of the diocese’s 56 parishes and their mission churches.
Spreading God’s message is “a tremendous gift that God has provided. May we continue to be about his work.”