Fr Fernando Montano, Parish Priest of St Bernadette’s Parish Castle Hill, was thinking both locally and globally at the annual Chrism Mass, held at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta on 5 April 2023.
“It is always beautiful,” he said of the Mass, “And not only that, but it is the Church coming together for the celebrations of Holy Week. I was looking at my friends in Mexico and in Tokyo and everyone is doing the same thing. It is a great occasion.”
At the Mass, around 100 priests of the Diocese of Parramatta renewed their priestly promises, which include to be more united with the Lord, and more closely conformed to Him, as well as being faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist.
The other important part of this special Mass is the blessing of the oils and consecration of the Chrism. The oils, the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of the Catechumens and the Sacred Chrism are used for the following year in the celebration of the Sacraments in each parish.
They were blessed by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta who presided over the Mass. At the conclusion of Mass parishioners nominated by their parish priest collected the three oils to take back to their parish.
Pat Lolola of Holy Family Parish at Emerton is part of the parish council, and this was the first Chrism Mass he had attended. “It was wonderful,” he said. “It was amazing seeing all the priests processing through the Cathedral. I had never seen so many priests together.
“I feel very privileged to be able come and collect the oils on behalf of the parish,” he said.
In his homily, Bishop Vincent Long told the congregation of Pope Francis’ teachings on the Catholic Church.
“Despite the many challenges facing us on all sides, we must not lose sight of our mission to embody the compassionate God for the world,” he said.
“As Pope Francis reminds us that what the Church needs most today is to heal wounds, to warm hearts and to offer closeness to those who suffer. Hence, this Chrism Mass epitomizes who we are as the living Body of Christ and his continued presence. We exist not primarily to impose our values on the world or to get our hands on the levers of temporal power but to bind its wounds.”
He also encouraged Catholics to reflect on the current time of rebuilding, of the ‘Karios’ of the Church.
“During the time of the Roman persecution, the Church gathered in places like the catacombs. It was poor, persecuted and few in numbers. Yet it was a powerhouse of prayer, love and solidarity. Today, in the midst of diminishment, we can learn to spread the fragrance of the Gospel and to shine like the Church of the catacombs,” he said.
Following on from his message of renewal, Bishop Vincent encouraged all parishes to participate in the upcoming Diocesan Synod, the first ever held in the Diocese of Parramatta.
During May, June and July all parishioners, those on the margins and those currently not part of the Church will be invited to submit their thoughts to the Synod. The event itself will take place in October.
“I urge you to give the Diocesan Synod your wholehearted response: every person, parish, school, agency, deanery and other entity. Let us plough the fields for the seeds of the synodal Church to grow and bear fruit,” he said.
“May we become a Church that accompanies people as Christ did on the peripheries.”
After Mass, parishes were presented with their Synod kits, including posters that parishes can use to build awareness of the Synod. You can find more information about the Synod at parracatholic.org/synod2023.
Read Bishop Vincent’s homily from the Mass here.
See photos of the 2023 Chrism Mass here.
You can watch the livestream of the Mass here.
Find Holy Week service times here.