For The Dialog
DOVER — More than 60 priests renewed their priestly promises Monday, March 26, while concelebrating with Bishop Malooly the annual Chrism Mass during which the bishop blessed sacred oils to be used this year in the 56 Catholic parishes in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The Mass came during the most solemn eight days of the year for Catholics, ending on Easter Sunday. “During this Holy Week, we will once again remember, commemorate and celebrate the sacred mysteries of our redemption,” Bishop Malooly said in his homily.
Those mysteries include the Eucharist, instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper and celebrated on Holy Thursday; Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial commemorated on Good Friday, and his resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.
The Chrism Mass is traditionally celebrated at Holy Cross on Monday of Holy Week in the Diocese of Wilmington. It carries importance since the oils of the catechumen (for those entering the church), the sick, and the sacred chrism (used during sacraments), and since it serves as a sign of the unity of the priesthood with the bishop in leading the church.
The six diocesan seminarians; deacons and their wives; members from the 33 religious communities of consecrated life within the diocese; representatives of Catholic fraternal organizations; representatives from each parish who take the oils back to their churches following the Mass, and others gather for the Mass.
Bishop Malooly said God “asks very little of us. He wants us to do what the early disciples did: to share the Good News with others that he suffered, died and rose again that we might have eternal life. … I ask you during this Holy Week to share that message with your friends who might not be as connected to the Lord as you are.”
About 700 young people shared the message in a different way the Saturday before the Chrism Mass, he noted, through the ninth annual Catholic Youth Ministry Pilgrimage in Wilmington, carrying the cross and witnessing their faith.
“It is very helpful for our youth to see the faith of so many of their peers and their willingness to express that,” the bishop said. “They were positive. They were upbeat. They were filled with joy.”
Many attend the Mass each year, such as Barbara Steiner of St. Mary Refuge of Sinners Parish in Cambridge, Md. She and two friends drove a three-to-four-hour round trip to attend the evening Mass.
“It’s just the most beautiful Mass,” she said. “I feel like it’s a privilege for me to come to get the oils for my church.”
She and other parish representatives went to the church hall to receive the oils for their churches.
After Bishop Malooly consecrated each large urn of oil — for catechumens and the sick, and the chrism oil — they were carried to the church hall where a team of teachers and others from Holy Cross School filled smaller vessels from each parish.
Second-grade teacher Leslie Cote was among the team transferring the oils from the large urns to smaller vessels.
The school became involved three years ago when Father Joseph McQuaide asked the school to take on the task. Cote volunteered to help.
“I’m still doing it and loving it,” she said. She paused a second, then added that by helping provide the sacred oils to each parish “I’m sharing my faith, living my faith.”
For The Dialog