By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published August 25, 2020 | En Español
ATLANTA–Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., used his first Chrism Mass homily in Atlanta to call for unity among priests with “a mission of formation, affirmation and reconciliation.”
“The Lord is calling us to be a family gathering, not a house divided. We are diverse in our outlooks, ethnic backgrounds, language, age, lifestyle experience, spirituality,” said Archbishop Hartmayer preaching at the Cathedral of Christ the King on Aug. 17.
He urged priests “to call on the Lord with all our hearts, let’s stretch our spirits, so that we can continue to offer a leadership of faith to our people.”
The annual Chrism Mass is when priests in the archdiocese gather and renew their commitments to serve. The Mass usually is celebrated during Holy Week, leading to Easter. In response to the pandemic, the Mass was delayed.
Some 20 priests attended, most masked and sitting physically distant from each other. The attending priests were representing the deaneries and the College of Consultors. The afternoon Mass was livestreamed so priests and others could worship remotely from “homes, the domestic church,” said the archbishop.
The Mass also honored four priests celebrating 25 years since their ordinations. The 2020 jubilarians are Msgr. Frank McNamee, the cathedral rector; Father Paul Williams, pastor of St. Joseph Church, Dalton; Msgr. Joe Corbett, pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sandy Springs; and Father Larry Niese, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock.
Altar servers carried large silver urns up the long aisle to be blessed. During the Mass, Archbishop Hartmayer prayed over the three oils to be used in the sacraments in the year ahead. The oil of the infirm is used during the anointing of the sick. The oil of the catechumens is used at baptisms. The sacred chrism is used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and ordinations.
In his homily, the archbishop reminded worshippers how the Mass focus would be on the priests, although all believers “are a priestly people.”
This Mass is a chance “to recommit ourselves to follow Christ and to faithfully shepherd his people,” he said.
Without the service of the priest, there would be no sacraments available, he said. The archbishop said a priest’s preaching and living a priestly life is what makes the sacraments credible and meaningful. Their ministry will shape the next generation of the church’s deacons and priests, said the archbishop.
“Let us use our creativity and courage to proclaim good news to speak of true freedom to offer sight and perspective, to proclaim what God has done for us,” said Archbishop Hartmayer.
Quoting from the American poet Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” he honored the priests celebrating silver jubilees and encouraged priests to cultivate vocations by inspiring others to choose the road less traveled by.
“It is with great enthusiasm and joy that I look forward to the years ahead. I pray that we, as a fraternity of priests, will grow closer together and celebrate the gift of faith that we share,” he said.