Delayed Chrism Mass celebrated; holy oils are blessed, priests renew their promises

Father Don Roszkowski, assistant chaplain at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, presents the Oil of the Sick at the Chrism Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral on Oct. 20. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Despite the fact that for many this is still a “painful time of quarantine,” the good news is that the faith of the Catholic Church has not been quarantined, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, said as he celebrated the Chrism Mass on Oct. 20 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

“Our hope has not been shaken and our love, our love, my dear priests and people of the holy Church of Peoria, is challenged to grow stronger than ever before,” he said before blessing the holy oils that would help them to do just that.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, blesses the Oil of Catechumens, presented by Msgr. Mark Merdian, at the Chrism Mass on Oct. 20 at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Traditionally celebrated during Holy Week, the Mass was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Traditionally celebrated during Holy Week, the Chrism Mass was delayed by more than six months this year because of restrictions on public Masses due to COVID-19. It was primarily reserved for the priests serving in the Diocese of Peoria, who were seated and socially distanced throughout the cathedral before the Mass began.

Rather than processing up the main aisle of the cathedral, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka entered from the cathedral’s Lady Chapel, along with Msgr. Philip Halfacre, vicar general, and others who would have roles in the liturgy.

Representing the laity were women religious and members of the diocesan staff, who offered heartfelt applause after the priests renewed the promises they made on the day of their ordination. Bishop Jenky also asked for prayers, “that I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness.”

“HERE I AM, SEND ME”

Bringing forth the oil for the Sacred Chrism was Father Patrick Henehan, vocation director of formation and pastor of St. Jude Parish, Peoria, while Father Chase Hilgenbrinck, vocation director for recruitment, carried up the fragrant balsam that would be mixed into it.

In his homily, Bishop Jenky noted that Sacred Chrism makes present the Holy Spirit and is used to consecrate the hands of priests and the heads of bishops at their ordination. It is also used to anoint the newly baptized, as well as altars and the walls of churches when they are dedicated.

Father Mark Merdian, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Rock Island brought the Oil of Catechumens to Bishop Jenky for his blessing.

The priests of the Diocese of Peoria raise their right hand in blessing to co-consecrate the Sacred Chrism with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, during the Chrism Mass on Oct. 20. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The Oil of Catechumens “manifestly strengthens those longing for the new life of the Easter sacraments,” Bishop Jenky said, and is primarily used in baptism and confirmation.

Perhaps the most poignant blessing in a year marked by COVID-19 was for the Oil of the Sick, which was brought forth by Father Don Roszkowski, assistant chaplain at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. Bishop Jenky said, “In a broken world still groaning in anguish, the Oil of the Sick greatly comforts and powerfully heals.”

Sets of the oils were given to the priests to take back to their parishes at the end of Mass.

“Here at this very moment, and later, when we leave this holy place, God asks you, and God asks me, ‘Whom shall I send to bring Good News to the poor, release to prisoners, and new promise and new vision to all those in need,’” Bishop Jenky said as he concluded his homily. “Sealed with holy anointing and nourished with the Bread of Life, sanctified by the incomparable holiness of the sacraments, may we all boldly answer, ‘Here I am, send me. I have come to do your will.’”

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