Priests renew promises as sacramental oils are blessed at annual Chrism Mass

The permanent deacons of the Diocese of Peoria offer applause for the priests (standing), who renewed their commitment to priestly service at the Chrism Mass. The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems

God is capable of speaking to his disciples in a “still small voice,” but during Holy Week the Lord is much more direct, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, said in his homily at the Chrism Mass on March 27.

“In the life, the suffering, the death and the rising of Christ, God Himself is almost shouting at us: ‘This is how much I love you. This is how much I desire your happiness. This is how much I claim you for my own. This is the extreme to which I will go to finally and completely win your hearts,’” the bishop told the priests, consecrated women and men, permanent deacons and lay people who filled St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria for the liturgy, traditionally celebrated on the Tuesday of Holy Week in the Diocese of Peoria.

As they process out of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, (from left) Deacon Roger Hunter carries the Oil of the Sick, Deacon Bob Sondag carries the Oil of Catechumens, and Deacon Andru O’Brien carries the sacred chrism, all of which were blessed by Bishop Jenky during the Chrism Mass. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Also accepting Bishop Jenky’s invitation to join him were 376 students and staff from 22 Catholic schools in Peoria, Champaign, Philo, Rantoul, Oglesby, Ottawa, East Moline, Macomb, Monmouth, Nauvoo, Rock Island, Kickapoo, Morton and Pekin.

At the Chrism Mass, the priests come together with the bishop to renew their commitment to priestly service and the promises they made at their ordination. Bishop Jenky asked the people to pray for their 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.”

The bishop also asked that they pray for him, “that I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me” 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.”

Then he led them in a round of sustained applause for the priests.


The Chrism Mass takes its name from the oils that are blessed and will be used in sacramental anointing around the diocese in the coming year. These oils are outward signs of the gift of God’s love and the “incomparable joy” of the Holy Spirit, he said.

The Oil of the Sick, presented by Deacon Roger Hunter of St. Jude, Peoria, “always comforts and often heals those who are ill,” Bishop Jenky said.

Deacon Bob Sondag, who serves at Immaculate Conception in Manito and is vice chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria, presented the Oil of Catechumens. The bishop said this oil “expels the malignant influence of evil spirits, and strengthens those called to a new life in the Easter Sacraments.”

The oil for the sacred chrism was presented by Deacon Andru O’Brien, while the fragrant balsam that was mixed into it was brought forward by Deacon Ryan Mattingly. In their fourth year of studies at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, they will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, May 26.

Assisted by Msgr. Stanley Deptula, Bishop Jenky distributes newly blessed oils to Msgr. Ernest Pizzamiglio, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Galesburg and vicar of the Galesburg Vicariate. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Bishop Jenky said this “oil of gladness” is used to consecrate the hands of priests at their ordination and the heads of bishops, as well as those to be baptized and confirmed. It is also used to consecrate altars and churches, “making them worthy for divine worship.”

“What we do today at this Chrism Mass is intended as an inspiration for what we are called to live outside the walls of this truly sacred space,” Bishop Jenky said. “We are called by God to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and imprisoned, to be givers and servers, to be friend makers and peace makers, and filled with the Holy Spirit, especially to be disciple makers.”

Helping to spread that joy before and during the Chrism Mass were the Immaculate Conception Children’s Choir from Monmouth, under the direction of Leo and Alisa Ramer, who sang from the choir loft, while the St. Anthony Camerata Chorale Festival Choir, under the direction of Mary Ann Fahey-Darling, sang from the sanctuary. In addition, musical leadership was provided by Jon Kroepel, director of sacred music at St. Mary’s Cathedral, on organ, and the Pontifical Brass.

Before Mass ended, the newly blessed oils were distributed to the vicars of the Diocese of Peoria by Bishop Jenky. A dinner for the priest followed at the nearby Spalding Pastoral Center.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Chrism Mass have been posted to an album on The Catholic Post’s Facebook page.

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