Priests renew commitment at Chrism Mass

Photo Caption: The blessed holy oils are carried in procession at the Chrism Mass on April 7.

By: By Jared Olar

All Catholics are “unfinished saints” always in need of being remade by the Holy Spirit through a willing surrender to God’s purposes, said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at a Mass Tuesday during which nearly 200 priests renewed the sacred promises made at ordination.

Priests from throughout the Diocese of Peoria filled an entire section of pews at St. Mary’s Cathedral Tuesday for the annual Chrism Mass and later joined Bishop Jenky around the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The cathedral was also filled with more than 50 permanent deacons, dozens of women religious, parish representatives, and nearly 200 Catholic school students, some of whom sat in chairs set up in the sanctuary wings. All gave the bishop and the priests sustained applause of support and affection after their renewal of commitment.

During the Chrism Mass, the bishop blesses the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and the Holy Chrism, which are then distributed to the diocesan vicars or their representatives for use in the celebration of the sacraments during the coming year.

Looking around the packed cathedral after the opening procession, Bishop Jenky called the assembly “a sign of the body of Christ.”

But because we are only “fragments of God’s grace and goodness,” he said later in his homily, we require a “continuing conversion” that seeks communion with God through cooperation with his grace.

“In this world of time, we will always need to pray relentlessly for the great good God always wills,” the bishop said. “This cooperation with God, human communion with our God, is the inward reality that the outward signs of holy oil both signify and effect,” he said. “Let us continue to ask God to do what God already wants to do: to renew all his wondrous gifts of love, to renew all the rich graces of Holy Orders, and to renew the inexhaustible fire that is the Holy Spirit in our hearts and in our lives,” Bishop Jenky said.

For the past five years, Bishop Jenky has extended an invitation to the Catholic schools of the diocese to take part in the Mass, which is celebrated during Holy Week.

About 180 students from four grade schools and two high schools answered the bishop’s invitation, according to Jerry Sanderson, assistant superintendent of diocesan schools.

“It’s very nice of him to let us see what it is like. It really is a beautiful Mass,” said Mariana Dias, a senior at Schlarman High School and member of St. Paul’s Parish, Danville.

Dias, one of about 45 Schlarman seniors and juniors who came to the Mass, said her first Chrism Mass last year “was very enriching: just seeing the bishop and the priests walk in — and everybody really participates.”

Fellow seniors Patrick Kelley and Nathan Liggett said the chance to visit the cathedral gives the Chrism Mass even more meaning for them.

“It was really good to see the cathedral,” Liggett told The Catholic Post, recalling a previous visit when he and other Schlarman students saw the saints’ relics in the cathedral’s St. Thomas More Chapel.

“I think it’s important to visit the cathedral,” said Kelley. “Not only is it the center of our diocese, but it’s also so beautiful. I’ve been to several cathedrals in the Midwest. It’s one of the most beautiful cathedrals in America, I think.”

The Chrism Mass was especially significant for the students who attended from Visitation School in Kewanee, because many of them are preparing for the sacrament of confirmation this spring.

Visitation seventh-grader Mary Hansen, 12, from St. Mary’s Parish in Kewanee, said she learned more about her faith from the Mass. “I actually learned a lot of stuff today about Chrism and the priests,” she said.

“I thought it was amazing how they blessed the oil — and we’re going to be able to receive it in just a few weeks in confirmation,” said Sara Fisher, a 14-year-old eighth grade student at Visitation School, and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Kewanee.

Christopher Burrows, 13, a Visitation eighth-grader from St. John’s Parish in Galva, said he was impressed to see so many priests and deacons all in one place. “It was also great to see the priests and deacons renew their vows,” he told The Post.

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