April 11, 2017

Bishop celebrates annual Chrism Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral

Story and photos by Kathleen Harrington

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SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Diocese’s annual Chrism Mass drew hundreds of people to St. Michael’s Cathedral last night.

The Mass celebrates the blessing of the holy oils and the annual renewal of priestly vows. The Mass was celebrated by Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski and was also attended by priests, deacons, and religious brothers, along with parishioners and confirmation students from throughout the diocese. Also present was Transitional Deacon Barrent Pease, who is preparing for his ordination to the priesthood in June.

The Mass began with a grand procession from a side entrance at the front of the cathedral. The procession wound its way to the back of the church and then to the altar. Springfield Bishop Emeritus Timothy A. McDonnell and, finally, Bishop Rozanski proceeded to the altar as the choir sang “Lord, When You Came to the Seashore.”

“This is the only time I will serve as a transitional deacon for the Chrism Mass,” Deacon Pease told iObserve. He was ordained to the transitional diaconate in November. “Next year, I will be a priest,” he said, smiling. One of the oils blessed at this Mass will be used in his ordination. The chrism is used for ordination of clergy, baptisms, confirmations, the consecration of altars as well as the blessing of churches.

In his opening prayer and welcome, Bishop Rozanski greeted those in attendance in English and in Spanish. The Mass was celebrated in both languages. The readings alternately were read in English and Spanish, with the translation printed in the program in the other language. A reading from the book of the prophet Isiah recalled the anointing of the Lord, the call to priesthood and the blessing with oil to heal.

Bishop Rozanski said the Chrism Mass is a beautiful reminder that the church is a sacramental church. “So many represented here this evening, it’s a joy and a privilege to gather in the Lord and to celebrate his gift to us, the oils of the sick, the catechumens, and the holy chrism,” he said.

Following his homily, the bishop called on the clergy to stand and renew their vows. He asked them, “Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist and other liturgical rites and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching, following Christ the Head and Shepard, not seeking any gain, but moved only by zeal for souls?” The bishop then called on all those present to pray for the priests and to pray for him.

The Mass also included a dramatic presentation of the oils for blessing. One by one, the large vases containing the oils were carried to the altar by three deacons in colorful robes. As the oils were presented, members of each ministry represented by the use of the oil stood to pray.

First, the oil of the sick was presented by Deacon O’Dell Daniel of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Springfield, who was wearing a purple robe. The pastoral ministers who visit the elderly and homebound joined in the presentation.

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For the oil of the catechumens, Deacon Angel Perez of St. Michael’s Cathedral Parish, wearing a white robe, carried forward the vase. Religious education teachers, catechists, catechumens and their sponsors stood to pray for the blessing. Finally, Deacon Joe Kielbasa, of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Springfield, carried forward the oil of chrism. His robe was red.

Olive oil and balsam was added to each of the vats of oil to give a sweet smell. Following the blessing, the oils were carried to a back room where a team of workers poured the oils into containers for each church in the diocese. The oils will be presented on Saturday evening at the Easter Vigil.

This was the first Chrism Mass for Morgan Wilson. He will enter the Catholic Church on Saturday with his fiancé serving as his sponsor. The two will marry later this spring. They plan to travel to Rome to have their marriage blessed by Pope Francis. He said it was great to be included in this Mass.

Click here to watch the video of the Mass:

A video version of this story will be featured on the April 15 edition of “Real to Reel,” which airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.