By Megan Erbacher
The Message assistant editor
Diocese of Evansville Bishop Joseph M. Siegel called the Chrism Mass a time of hope.
On Aug. 25, the diocese celebrated this year’s Chrism Mass at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville, roughly four months after the original date. Traditionally celebrated on the Tuesday of Holy Week in the Evansville diocese, the 2020 Chrism Mass was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Because of the need for social-distancing and its impact on seating inside the cathedral, attendance was by invitation only. All were encouraged to participate in spirit via a live stream on the St. Benedict Cathedral Facebook page.
The Chrism Mass is when the holy oils — Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and the Sacred Chrism — used throughout the year are blessed and consecrated, and the priests of the diocese make a public renewal of their priestly promises to serve Christ and the Church.
Bishop Siegel said it was a joy to welcome everyone, including more than 30 diocesan priests, to the Chrism Mass. He said the blessing of the holy oils is a celebration of hope that the sanctifying mission of the church will continue with the sacraments no matter what viruses we have, what goes on in our lives or in our world. The mission of Christ will continue, he said, with the ministry of the church through the sacraments.
When the Chrism Mass was postponed in April, the hope was to reschedule and celebrate the liturgy when it was safe again for everyone to gather together. However, that goal continued to become more elusive, and the diocese was in need of blessing and consecrating holy oils.
While the Chrism Mass was celebrated on an unusual day in unprecedented times, Bishop Siegel said in his homily that it is still in joy and hope that we gathered as the Church to bless the oils that are used in our sacramental life — Oil of Catechumens for those to be baptized, the Oil of the Sick for the anointing of those struggling with serious illness, and the Sacred Chrism for those to be baptized, confirmed and ordained to the priesthood.
Following Bishop Siegel’s homily, but before blessing the holy oils, priests of the Diocese of Evansville joined Bishop Siegel in renewing their priestly vows.
The bishop asked for prayers for his brother priests serving in the diocese as they renewed the promises they made before God and the church on their ordination day. He also asked for prayers for himself and his fellow bishops throughout the world.
Bishop Siegel thanked his brother priests for their dedicated priestly service, especially in the difficult days of the lockdown when so much effort and creativity has been required to continue their pastoral care.
After the renewal of priestly vows, Bishop Siegel blessed the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and the Sacred Chrism. Each will be provided to all diocesan parishes for use throughout the year.
To watch or rewatch the Chrism Mass, visit the St. Benedict Cathedral Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/saintbenedictcathedral/.