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April 16, 2017

Hundreds gather for ‘beautiful witness’ of Chrism Mass

The annual Chrism Mass was celebrated April 11 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

The annual Chrism Mass was celebrated April 11 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

By Caroline B. Mooney

LAFAYETTE — The Chrism Mass, the largest diocesan liturgy of the year, brought Bishop Timothy L. Doherty together with Bishop Emeritus William L. Higi, 71 priests, 12 deacons and 800 faithful from across the Lafayette diocese on April 11 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” said Karl Ruemler, a candidate from St. Joan of Arc Parish, Kokomo. “I was totally enthralled by the Mass. I am a bundle of nerves, so excited to join the Church on Sunday. I am overwhelmed with information, but I am so glad I came tonight.”

The bishop blessed sacred oils and consecrated the chrism for use in the coming year, and priests renewed their ordination vows.

In his homily, Bishop Doherty expressed his gratitude for the priests of the diocese.

“Our own priesthood is not a task, it is who we are,” he said. “And for what? For a who: to open, make available, the very possibility of the gift of the Holy Spirit among those we serve.

“This craziness over the last year is a challenge for those of us ministering in the Church and participating in citizenship of our own country,” Bishop Doherty said. “... There is a reason why tonight’s Gospel is always the same for this Mass: Jesus’ manifestation of the Lord’s Spirit upon him and his care for the poor and the prisoner, the outcast. Brothers and sisters, we all have to do better at seeing this Gospel as a political statement — but it is not a partisan statement. In our country, any action that works for the good of all people is political. This is different than partisan, not promoting any particular party, not promoting a theology which separates people.

“... Reasonableness is being challenged in our public life,” he said. “There are those who now make a living trying to convince people that organized activity, especially through government, is wrong. How does this impede or bruise discipleship? It causes suspicion of our whole Catholic tradition of social justice which promotes and always attaches responsibilities to rights. It is our responsibility to teach people about this tradition, about our Church experience with labor and wages, housing and race, the ongoing right to own property, access to necessary education, and the obligation to participate in organizations and governments if we hope to continue to enjoy God- given liberties.

“We have to do better, I have to do better, at being a good neighbor,” Bishop Doherty said. “Together, like the Good Samaritan in Luke, chapter 10, we cannot walk to the other side of the street when we see a stranger, especially one who is injured or in need, or just because we suspect they might not have documents. We have to resist people who use the word ‘political’ incorrectly and intimidate those who want to cross the street to help another human being.”

Bishop Doherty was the principal celebrant of the Mass. Concelebrating were Bishop Emeritus Higi; Father Theodore Dudzinski, V.G.; Father Dale Ehrman, V.E.; Father Timothy Alkire; Father Jeffrey Martin; Father Theodore Rothrock, V.F.; Father Robert Bernotas, V.F.; Father Eric Underwood, V.F.; Father Michael McKinney, V.F.; Father Andrew Dudzinski, V.F., and the priests of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana.

Master of ceremonies was Father David Hasser. Deacon John Jezierski and Deacon John Nguyen assisted.

After the homily, the presbyterate renewed their commitment to priestly service. Bishop Doherty asked the assembly to support him and his brother priests in their vocations.

“Pray for your priests,” he said, “that the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly upon them, and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest, so that they may lead you to him, who is the source of salvation.”

“I love hearing the priests renew their vows — and I really like hearing all their voices together,” said Lori Daily, a member of St. Patrick Parish, Kokomo.

Her husband, Bret Daily, said the Mass is a wonderful part of Holy Week.

“It was really special this year because the oils were anointed that will be used for our son Cole’s ordination to the priesthood,” he said.

During the Mass, large vessels containing the sacred oils were presented to the bishop for his blessing.

Presenting the oil of the sick were Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration.

The oil of catechumens, used to anoint those who are preparing for baptism in the Church, was presented by Chad Grube, adult faith formation coordinator at St. Joan of Arc Parish, and catechumens Alexis Shelley and Brennan Shelley of St. Joan of Arc Parish, and Rachael Dick, catechumen from St. Patrick Parish, Kokomo.

Seminarians carried the chrism and balsam.

Both the oil of the sick, used to bring comfort to the sick, and the oil of the catechumens, used for those preparing for baptism, were blessed, while the sacred chrism was consecrated by Bishop Doherty.

The chrism is used at the ordination of clergy, baptisms, confirmations, the consecration of altars and the blessing of churches.

All the oils are olive oil, with balsam added as part of the chrism’s consecration, giving it a sweet smell.

Before Mass began, representatives of each parish and diocesan institution dropped off their oil bottles from the previous year. During Mass, the bottles were taken into the cathedral’s sacristy, where a team of volunteers refilled them.

Bishop Doherty then distributed the newly filled bottles back to each representative for delivery to diocesan churches and institutions.

Sarah Striebich, campus minister at St. Francis of Assisi University Parish and Newman Center in Muncie, brought 18 Ball State University students to the Mass.

“I love bringing students every year because it is such a beautiful witness of the ministry of priesthood and also a witness of the Universal Church to our students who don’t often get to see that beyond Ball State’s campus,” she said. “I also love the beauty of the liturgy, the music and the beautiful cathedral. To be able to expose the students to our diocese in a much different way is wonderful.”

The Chrism Mass was coordinated by the diocesan Department of Evangelization, Education and Worship, Jonathan Sullivan, executive director.

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