‘Taste of heaven’ as priests renew commitment at Chrism Mass

Photo Caption: Deacon Nick Simon of St. Anthony’s Parish in Atkinson carries the Oil of the Sick in procession during the annual Chrism Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Tuesday, April 19.

By: By Jennifer Willems of The Catholic Post

A taste of heaven.

Sharon Torres of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington used those words not once but twice to describe her first experience of the Chrism Mass, which was celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on April 19.

The liturgy, which is traditionally held early in Holy Week, brings together Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and the priests of the Diocese of Peoria to renew their commitment to priestly service. At this Mass, the bishop also blesses the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of the Catechumens and the sacred Chrism, all of which will be used in sacramental anointing at parishes around central Illinois in the year to come.

“It was like a taste of heaven,” Torres told The Catholic Post. “I pray for (the priests) every day. This makes me appreciate the priests a whole lot more — and the bishop, too.”

She came at the invitation of Pat Pence, also of Holy Trinity in Bloomington, who has wanted to come to the Chrism Mass for some time. “I decided this was the year,” she said.

They were among the many permanent deacons, consecrated women and men, students, teachers and lay people who filled St. Mary’s Cathedral with song, prayer and applause, especially when Bishop Jenky invited them to show their appreciation for their priests. After several minutes of clapping — and a loud whistle offered in cheerful support — the bishop got it started all over again by saying, “I guess we really love our priests.”

This year about 225 students from 10 schools around the diocese accepted Bishop Jenky’s invitation to join him at the Chrism Mass, including the second-graders and confirmation students from Visitation School in Kewanee. It was the second visit to the cathedral for the seventh- and eighth-graders, who were anointed with sacred Chrism when they were confirmed by Bishop Jenky in March.

He reminded them — and everyone present — that Holy Week and the annual Chrism Mass are given to the faithful to help them “renew a deeper understanding of the sacred reality of the church and the holiness of its priesthood.”

“The oils that we will consecrate today remind us in a tangible manner that the church’s core vocation to be holy,” Bishop Jenky said.

“Through the power of the Holy Spirit, holy oils truly heal and strengthen. Holy Chrism especially fills the church with the intoxicating perfume of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “And all of the holy oils signify the sanctity of the holy people of God.”

After the Chrism Mass, the priests reassembled at the nearby Spalding Pastoral Center for a reception and dinner.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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