Priests renew vow to announce Gospel with joy at Chrism Mass

Photo Caption: Consecrated women were among those in a packed cathedral offering sustained applause for the priests of the Diocese of Peoria, who renewed their commitment to priestly service at the Chrism Mass.

By: By Jennifer Willems

Sad people make ineffective missionaries, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, told those who attended the annual Chrism Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. That didn’t appear to be a problem, however, as the “joyfully full” church resounded with prayer, song and applause on April 15.

The liturgy, which included a renewal of commitment to priestly service, derives its name from the blessing and consecration of the oils and Holy Chrism that will be used in sacramental anointing at parishes around the Diocese of Peoria in the coming year.

There was also a surprise for Bishop Jenky, who received flowers, gifts and two huge rawhide bones for his Chihuahuas, Vicar and Monsignor, in honor of his 40th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. The gifts were presented by students from St. Thomas the Apostle School in Peoria Heights, but represented all of the students of Catholic schools in central Illinois, said Msgr. Paul Showalter, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria.

More than 200 of those students from 17 schools were in the cathedral for the Chrism Mass.

“Guys, these are a little big for my two Chihuahuas, but we’ll try,” Bishop Jenky said with a broad smile.

During his homily, Bishop Jenky spoke about the importance of joy in proclaiming the Gospel.

“Hasn’t Pope Francis reminded us that sourpusses . . . make poor evangelists? Because we cannot proclaim Good News unless we ourselves know the tremendous joy of the Lord,” he said.

“It is always the essential responsibility of a priest to announce the Gospel with joy, to evangelize in season and out of season with intense fervor and tireless zeal,” Bishop Jenky said. “And then, with holy awe, to celebrate the sacraments for the glory of God and the service of God’s people.”

After asking the priests to renew their promises to be just such people, Bishop Jenky asked the seminarians, permanent deacons, consecrated religious and laity to pray for them.

“Pray for your priests, that the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly upon them and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest, so that they may lead you to Him, who is the source of salvation,” he said.

Then the bishop asked them to pray “that I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness and that in your midst I may be made day by day a living and more perfect image of Christ, the Priest, the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and Servant of all.”

During his homily, Bishop Jenky also talked about the oils he would bless, saying that these “outward signs” offer insights into the “inward realities of all the gifts of the Spirit.”

The Oil of the Sick was presented by Deacon Chase Hilgenbrinck, who is preparing for ordination to the priesthood in May. This oil not only heals, but comforts and encourages, the bishop said.

The Oil of Catechumens was presented by Deacon Bob Sondag, who is vice chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria and serves at Immaculate Conception in Manito. Bishop Jenky reminded his listeners that this oil “illuminates the minds and enkindles the hearts of those who hurry with eager longing, for the grace of the Easter sacraments.”

The Holy Chrism was presented by Deacon Corey Krengiel and the balsam, which was mixed into it, was presented by Deacon Kyle Lucas. They are also preparing for ordination to the priesthood next month.

“Redolent with that mysterious and intoxicating perfume of the Holy Spirit,” the Holy Chrism is used in baptism and confirmation, to anoint the hands of priests at their ordination and the heads of bishops at their consecration. In addition, it “truly sanctifies” altars and churches during the rites of dedication.

In addition to heartfelt song, the people who filled St. Mary’s Cathedral — including the first balcony, Lady Chapel and St. Thomas More Chapel — offered sustained applause for their priests and Bishop Jenky. After he was recognized for his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination, the bishop expressed his gratitude.

“My dear brother priests, our religious, deacons, seminarians, God knew how weak I was so he sent me to serve with the best priests in the world and with a blessed and graced church,” Bishop Jenky said. “I give thanks to God from the bottom of my heart for being sent here among you. God bless you all.”

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