By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published April 14, 2021 | En Español
ATLANTA—Sixteen priests were honored for their years of ministry in the Archdiocese of Atlanta when Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., celebrated the second Chrism Mass shaped by the pandemic.
The Mass on March 30 at the Cathedral of Christ the King allowed only a limited number of priests to celebrate the annual Mass, where oils used during the sacraments in more than 100 parishes and missions in the Atlanta Archdiocese are blessed.
Three vessels of oil were blessed for the upcoming year to sanctify and strengthen believers. The oils blessed by the archbishop are the oil of the sick, oil of the catechumens and of chrism. The chrism oil is perfumed and used during the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders. The three vessels held about 19 gallons of extra virgin olive oil.
The religious ceremony also includes an opportunity for a “ritualized second calling,” said the archbishop, in what he called “a grace of a vocation in our heart.”
The cathedral was reserved for priests and clergy. The priests serving in the 69 counties of the archdiocese sat three to a pew the length of the church. Scripture was proclaimed in Vietnamese, Spanish and English.
During his nearly 25-minute homily, Archbishop Hartmayer thanked the many religious communities whose members built up the archdiocese through the years.
“Many of them are gone, but not forgotten. They brought the Gospel to the most remote parts of the archdiocese,” he said.
Speaking to the priests, he reminded them how they are connected together by their shared ministry. He encouraged them to knit bonds over shared meals, prayer and working together. “We do not have to come from the same parents to be brothers,” he said.
The vision of Pope Francis
Reciting writings of Pope Francis in “The Joy of the Gospel,” he said the church is “called to be the house of the Father with doors wide open.”
The sacraments, including baptism and the Eucharist, should not be closed to people for any simple reason. Instead, the pope wrote everyone can be a part of the community, reminded Archbishop Hartmayer.
“The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect,” he said.
The archbishop said the community of priests should aim to be of one heart and one mind “to strive together to be men of faith and priests of Jesus Christ.”
“My brothers, my mission since becoming your archbishop 11 months ago has not changed,” he said. “In fact, I’m even more committed to serve you, to care for you, to pray for you and to love you.”
The priests honored at the Mass and their years of service are:
60th Anniversary: Father Edward Sheehan, SM, and Msgr. William Hoffman.
50th Anniversary: Father Francis J. Kissel, SM, Father John Adamski and Father John Fallon.
25th Anniversary: Father Miguel Grave de Peralta, Father Joseph Morris, Father Paul Burke, Father Peter Vu, Father John Howren, Father José Duván González, Father Daniel Fleming, Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III, Father William “Bill” Williams, Father Craig David and Father Javier Muñoz.
The 2021 jubilarian priests hail from Ireland, Colombia and Vietnam in addition to the United States and their ministries vary from education to prison ministry to hospital chaplaincy.