April 6, 2018

Priests renew promises, oils blessed during annual chrism Mass

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson prays the eucharistic prayer during the chrism Mass. He is joined at the altar by Msgr. William F. Stumpf, vicar general, left, Conventual Franciscan Father James Kent, provincial of the Our Lady of Consolation Province based in Mount St. Francis, and Father Joseph Newton, vicar judicial, and several concelebrating priests. Deacon Nathan Schallert, third from left, kneels in prayer. (Photos by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson prays the eucharistic prayer during the chrism Mass. He is joined at the altar by Msgr. William F. Stumpf, vicar general, left, Conventual Franciscan Father James Kent, provincial of the Our Lady of Consolation Province based in Mount St. Francis, and Father Joseph Newton, vicar judicial, and several concelebrating priests. Deacon Nathan Schallert, third from left, kneels in prayer. (Photos by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

The archdiocese in microcosm.

That was the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass celebrated on Tuesday of Holy Week, March 27, at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

Lay faithful, young and old, from parishes across central and southern Indiana, men and women in consecrated life from religious communities across the archdiocese, deacons and some 140 priests gathered for worship with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson in his first chrism Mass as shepherd of the archdiocese.

(Related: See photos from the Mass)

The liturgy embodying the faithful of the archdiocese furthered the worship that will take place across central and southern Indiana during the coming year.

Archbishop Thompson blessed oils that will be used in the celebration of baptism, confirmation, holy orders and the anointing of the sick and in the dedication of altars and churches. They were received by representatives of archdiocesan parishes. Priests serving across the archdiocese also renewed the promises they made at their ordination.

In his homily during the liturgy, Archbishop Thompson recalled his pastoral letter, “We Are One in Christ,” which he issued on Feb. 14 at the start of Lent, noting how he examined many threats to human dignity, including abortion, the difficult circumstances of immigrants, racism, various forms of drug abuse, gun violence and dangers to religious liberty.

He noted that, by bringing up these issues, he did not want to bring “a dark cloud” over Holy Week, but instead sought to highlight “our need for the message of hope” found in the liturgy’s Scripture readings from Isaiah, Revelation and the Gospel of Luke.

Quoting from the first reading from Isaiah, Archbishop Thompson pointed to the hope found in the “ ‘lasting covenant’ God has established with us in and through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ [that] these are holy oils of gladness.

“In him, through the administering of the holy oils, we are anointed as priests, prophets and kings in the sight of God,” he continued. “The dignity bestowed upon us as sons and daughters of God is unlike anything the world can offer or take away.”

In concluding his homily, Archbishop Thompson acknowledged the reality that “we have challenges before us, both individually and societally.”

Nevertheless, he recalled that “here we celebrate the Spirit of the Lord continuing to fulfill even in our hearing today the promise of salvation.”

In the upcoming solemn remembrance of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection that would be celebrated on Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, Archbishop Thompson said that the faithful are once again reminded that “we are claimed by Jesus Christ and given to share in his saving mission that involves both the cross and empty tomb, a crown of thorns and a crown of glory.

“Despite even ourselves, sinners each and every one of us, we are blessed indeed,” he said. “Embracing the call to missionary discipleship, armed with both word and sacrament, may we go forth, making a difference in service to others, not simply in our name, but most importantly in his name, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.”

Standing a few feet away from Archbishop Thompson as he blessed the sacred chrism oil was a man who will have his hands anointed with it in two months.

Transitional Deacon Jeffrey Dufresne will be ordained a priest for the archdiocese on June 2 at the cathedral.

He said that while the seminarians, he and other members of the clergy appreciate serving close to the archbishop, the chrism Mass is “a reminder that it’s never about us.”

“It’s about the Church in central and southern Indiana,” said Deacon Dufresne, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis. “I’m being ordained to serve the people of the archdiocese.”

One of the archdiocesan priests that he’ll soon call a brother is perhaps old enough to be his great-grandfather.

Retired Father Francis Eckstein, 88, was ordained a priest in 1958—31 years before Deacon Dufresne was born.

He has renewed his ordination promises during chrism Masses many times over his six decades of ministry.

“It’s very meaningful to be able to do that along with all of my other fellow priests,” said Father Eckstein. “It’s very good. I appreciate that.”

Sam Hansen, a senior at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, is considering the possibility that God might be calling him to a priest. He was present at the chrism Mass and was impressed by the diversity of age and cultural background in the many priests serving the Church in central and southern Indiana.

“It was really cool to see how they’re united in Christ,” said Sam, a member of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis. “They all have different stories and different origins, but they’re all a part of one big team.”

On this same “team” with the priests who renewed their ordination promises at the chrism Mass were many deacons, lay Catholics and those ministering in religious life throughout the archdiocese.

Brenda Shircliff traveled more than two hours to the cathedral from her home in Harrison County, where she is a member of St. Peter Parish.

She and fellow St. Peter parishioner Therese Bibb received the blessed oils for their faith community, and for St. Joseph Parish in Corydon and Most Precious Blood Parish in New Middleton.

Shircliff was impressed by the gathering of Catholics from so many parishes across central and southern Indiana, along with clergy and religious who serve them.

“That’s what the Catholic Church is, a community, a big community,” Shircliff said. “It takes everybody in.” †

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