Published April 5, 2018 | En Español
ATLANTA—Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, surrounded by the scores of priests who serve in the Atlanta Archdiocese, blessed sacred oils at the annual Chrism Mass, celebrated Tuesday, March 27, at the Cathedral of Christ the King.
Archbishop Gregory said the oils are to be used “to sanctify God’s people” at each of the parishes in the archdiocese in the coming year. Priests attending renewed the promises made at their own ordinations, supported by the prayers of deacons, seminarians and believers in attendance.
“As we gather in this cathedral church to bless the oils that will be used to sanctify God’s people, let us also beg the Lord to sanctify all priests. We are mere frail mortals. We have far too many faults that are known by just about everyone. We have made solemn promises to live in the world in imitation of the Lord; we cannot do so without the Lord’s own grace,” said the archbishop.
The evening Mass was also a jubilee celebration of the ordinations of nine priests. Priests celebrating 60 or more years as priests this year are Passionist Father Jerome McKenna, of St. Paul of the Cross Church, Atlanta; Trappist Father Thomas Francis Smith and Trappist Father Matthew Torpey, of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers.
Marking 50 years of priestly service are Msgr. James Fennessy and Father Patrick McCormick. Father Frank Richardson, Father Patrick Kingery, Father Gregory Goolsby and Father Timothy Hepburn each celebrate 25 years of priesthood this year.
Archbishop Gregory consecrated chrism, a mixture of olive oil and the fragrant balsam, which will be used for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders in the archdiocese. He also blessed the oil of catechumens for baptism and the oil of the sick for the infirm.
In his homily, Archbishop Gregory described the role of the sacred oils to be used during the coming year, from blessing the youngest at baptism to bringing comfort to the elderly and infirm.
These oils used at key moments in the lives of Catholics are transformative, he said. Many of the faithful will be strengthened for the great contest of living as Christians, he said.
He said the “sweet-scented oil” of chrism will be used during upcoming ordinations, on the hands of new priests and head of Bishop-designate Joel M. Konzen, SM, at his April 3 ordination as auxiliary bishop.
The chrism and its distinctive smell reveals to the world the “wondrous fragrance of Christ Jesus’ risen presence throughout all of creation,” said Archbishop Gregory.
Priests are anointed with this oil of choice so “our works of ministry might bring gladness to the lives of all of God’s people,” he said.
For priests, the Mass is a time to renew the promises of ordination as a “man who lived for others,” he said. It fuels a priest’s “desire to be engaged in the work of sanctification and to witness to God’s own holiness.”
The archbishop asked for prayers for those in ordained ministry.
“Pray also for an increase in vocations to the religious and clerical life so that the church will be graced with ministers whose lives of dedication and service will continue to symbolize the mysterious power of Christ’s love for his bride, the church,” said Archbishop Gregory.
Catholics—from the newly baptized baby in arms to those preparing for death—will all be blessed with the sacred oils here, he said. “Water and oil really do mix. They do so by the power of God and that mixture is a witness of God’s presence in the world,” he said.
Before the evening Mass, priests participated in a day of reflection. The Lenten day of reflection offers priests time for renewal and culminates with the sacrament of reconciliation.
Read about jubiliarian priests honored at the Chrism Mass at Meet the 2018 jubilarian priests.