Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 21, 2003
Priests renew their commitment
Chrism Mass celebrates priesthood, blessing of holy oils
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
"Are you resolved to unite yourselves more closely to Christ and to try to become more like him by joyfully sacrificing your own pleasure and ambition to bring his peace and love to your brothers and sisters?"
That was the first question Archbishop Thomas Collins asked 105 priests of the Archdiocese of Edmonton, including retired Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, during the renewal of their commitment to priestly service at the Chrism Mass, April 14, at St. Joseph's Basilica.
He then asked, "Are you resolved to imitate Jesus Christ, the head and shepherd of the Church, by teaching the Christian faith without thinking of your own profit, solely for the well-being of the people you were sent to serve?
The renewal of the commitment to priestly service is performed every year during the Chrism Mass.
"It's somewhat similar to when married people do this from time to time. It's not really a new thing. It's more just a matter of recommitting themselves," Collins told the WCR after the Mass.
The Chrism Mass is especially dedicated to the priesthood. So it's an appropriate time for them to recommit themselves to the priesthood, Collins explained.
"I think the priests and bishops need to renew their vows every day. And I think that married people need to renew their vows every day as well. Perhaps not in a ceremony but in their hearts."
Father Len Gartner, rector of St. Joseph's Basilica, has been renewing his commitment to the priesthood for 40 years. "It's an ongoing yes to the call of the Lord within the priesthood," he told the WCR.
In his homily Collins told the people, who packed the basilica, "I know I speak for you when I thank and recognize our priests for their dedicated and quiet consecration of their lives in service."
He also spoke about the significance of the consecration of the hands of priests in relation to the blessing of the three oils used for celebrating the sacraments.
Their hands are consecrated as a sign that they are not their own. It is a sign of their consecration to the Lord for the people, explained the archbishop.
He also told the people the importance of reminding themselves of their own consecration.
"We are a holy people consecrated into God in our Baptism and Confirmation. It's a grace from the Lord," he said.
Three kinds of oils were blessed and consecrated by the archbishop: oil of the catechumens, the first oil used in Baptism; oil of the sick, used in Anointing of the Sick, and the sacred chrism, which is used in Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders.
From Jasper to Lloydminster, from Grande Cache to Olds, the laity and the clergy of the archdiocese gathered to celebrate the blessing of the oils and consecration of the chrism.
Edmonton's Caroline Short did not know she was attending a Chrism Mass. She did not even know what this Mass was all about until she heard about it in the homily.
"It's very rare to see these many priests. I think the last time I saw a whole bunch of them was on the television when I watched the World Youth Day in Toronto."
The celebration was enlightening, she said. "I think I will go to Mass more often now. I was really touched."
Red Deer's Sister Lynn Rouleau said, "For me (the celebration) was symbolic of the Church community. There was a lot of energy around our gathering together."
She also noted there is a lot of excitement to gather together with the clergy and the religious of the archdiocese, "to celebrate priesthood, to celebrate the Eucharist and to receive the oils.
Each parish was allowed six representatives to whom the oils were given by the archbishop at the end of the Mass.