‘The church alive, gathered’: Bishop Tylka blesses holy oils at packed Chrism Mass

Bishop Louis Tylka pours the balsam into the oil for the Sacred Chrism. He would stir it and breath over the mouth of the vessel, calling down the Holy Spirit in blessing. The Chrism Mass takes its name from the consecration of this oil. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

As he looked out over the people who filled St. Mary’s Cathedral for the Chrism Mass on April 12, Bishop Louis Tylka voiced what everyone was thinking: “What a blessing it is to see the church alive and gathered here today.”

Traditionally celebrated during Holy Week, the Chrism Mass in 2020 was delayed six months due to COVID-19. Last year, attendance was by invitation only to maintain safety protocols.

After two years of celebrations that were either delayed or kept small due to COVID-19 protocols, the Chrism Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral on April 12 filled the church with priests, religious and lay persons. “What a blessing it is to see the church alive and gathered here today,” Bishop Louis Tylka said. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

This year’s celebration drew people from all corners of the Diocese of Peoria to the Mass, which takes its name from one of the three oils that is blessed during the liturgy. Sacred Chrism is used in baptism and confirmation, to anoint the hands of priests and the heads of bishops, as well as the altar, baptismal font and walls of new churches.

The oil for the Sacred Chrism was presented by Deacon Gary Schultz of St. Matthew, Farmington, and St. Mary, Canton, while Deacon Terry Stalsberg, executive director of the Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center, brought forward the fragrant balsam that would be mixed into it.

Presenting the Oil of the Sick was Deacon Joseph Knapp, who ministers in pastoral care at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. Deacon Gene Triplett of St. Philomena, Monticello, and St. Michael, Bement, carried the Oil of Catechumens down the main aisle of the cathedral to where Bishop Tylka was waiting to receive it.

In a change from years past, parish representatives came forward after Mass to receive boxes with small bottles of the oils to be used in their faith communities throughout the coming year.

The Chrism Mass is also the time that the priests ministering in the Diocese of Peoria renew the promises they made at their ordination and renew their commitment to priestly service. Bishop Tylka asked for prayers, too, “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 the Servant of all.”

“We have gathered together to bless the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick, to consecrate the Sacred Chrism, and to renew our priestly commitment. This is aggressive — this is bold,” Bishop Tylka said in his homily. “Because of what we do here, grace will go forth from this cathedral to support the life of the Church across North Central Illinois.”

He reminded his listeners that they are needed for the mission of God’s kingdom, adding “Because we are anointed, what else, then, can we say but ‘AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!’”


EDITOR’S NOTE: About a dozen photos from the Chrism Mass have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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