Prayers, applause for priests, Bishop Jenky at Chrism Mass

Photo Caption: The Holy Oils to be used in sacramental anointing at parishes around the Diocese of Peoria are processed down the center aisle of St. Mary’s Cathedral at the close of the Chrism Mass.

By: By Jennifer Willems

When it comes to applause, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, is clearly more at ease giving than receiving.

There were opportunities for both at the Chrism Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on April 3, as Bishop Jenky happily led the applause for the priests who serve the Diocese of Peoria and later watched as people stood and showed their appreciation for his 10 years of service in central Illinois.

Speaking after Communion, Msgr. Paul Showalter, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria, said he had hoped to share with them a papal blessing for the bishop’s 10th anniversary, but it hadn’t arrived yet. That didn’t seem to faze the priests, permanent deacons, consecrated women and men, students, teachers and lay people, who continued to clap until Bishop Jenky rose and proclaimed, “Let us pray!”

The joy on both sides capped the Holy Week liturgy, which included the renewal of commitment to priestly service for the clergy and the blessing of the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and the Holy Chrism, all of which will be used in sacramental anointing at parishes around central Illinois in the year to come.

The Oil of the Sick was carried in procession to the front of St. Mary’s Cathedral by Deacon Nick Simon of St. Anthony’s in Atkinson, while Deacon Gene Triplett of St. Philomena’s in Monticello and St. Michael’s in Bement brought forth the Oil of Catechumens.

Transitional deacon Johnathan Steffen, who is preparing for priestly ordination, presented the oil for the sacred Chrism, and Deacon Bob Sondag of Immaculate Conception in Manito and vice chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria carried in the balsam that would be mixed into it before Bishop Jenky consecrated it. Deacon Steffen’s hands will be anointed with the sacred Chrism during his ordination on May 26.

Saying that Jesus, our high priest, came to serve and not to be served, Bishop Jenky said people of faith best honor him by serving the needs of others.

“For this mission of love all Christians are anointed at baptism and confirmation, for a life of grace and love, as all priests of the New Testament are anointed at their ordination for their office of teaching, governing and sanctifying. The holy oils that we bless and consecrate today are outward signs of that inward reality,” he explained in his homily.

“The same transforming power of the Holy Spirit must also radically change our lives and directly inspire our love and daily sustain our service,” Bishop Jenky said.

He encouraged the priests to be fierce warriors, like Abraham, “always ready to battle for the Lord and for all those entrusted to our care” and to be willing sharers in sacred ministry, “faithfully setting before the people a redeeming sacrifice” like Melchizedek.

“Like Christ, our Head and our High Priest, may we generously offer up our whole lives, for the salvation of the world, steadfast in the vows of our ordination,” Bishop Jenky said.

Those present promised to pray for their priests, “that the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly upon them and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ,” and for Bishop Jenky, that in their midst he would be made “day by day a living and more perfect image of Christ, the Priest, the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and Servant of all.”

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