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As the clergy of the Diocese of Parramatta renewed their priestly vows last night, they and members of the faithful were reminded to have the courage to discover new and fresh ways of being “Church” that reflects authentically on Jesus Christ.
This was the message delivered by Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, last night during the Chrism Mass held at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
Faithful from parishes, migrant chaplaincies, agencies and ministries from the Church of Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains gathered to receive their holy oils during a Mass which is typically the busiest of the year, but with some restrictions due to COVID.
The Chrism Mass was concelebrated by the Deans of the six Deaneries of the Diocese of Parramatta, alongside their fellow priests of the Diocese of Parramatta, assisted by the deacons.
The Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick were blessed and the Oil of Chrism consecrated. These holy oils were then given to the parishes for use during the year.
The holy oils are to be used in the parish during the year for celebrating the Sacraments of Baptism, Anointing of the Sick and Confirmation.
“These oils are a sign of our commitment to missionary leadership and service,” Bishop Vincent said in his opening comments.
“It’s the church that is a community of disciples, making alive the ministry of Jesus in the world.
“Even if we are cornered by all kinds of challenges, Christ is among us, Christ is our hope, and we continue to embody his Gospel and we continue to make present his ministry of leadership and service among the people of God,” he said.
Priests from the Diocese of Parramatta also renewed their commitment to priestly service, with Bishop Vincent commenting how heartening it was to see an almost complete Parramatta presbyterate.
One of the concelebrating priests told Catholic Outlook how wonderful it was to be celebrating with his brother priests after a difficult year.
“It was a beautiful Mass, quite uplifting, especially after a long break,” he said. “Having not seen my fellow priests made tonight all the more special that we were able to gather together and thank God the conditions allowed that to happen.”
Parish representatives Nancy and Margaret from St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill, described how they felt the Holy Spirit moving through the Mass.
“It was very much a holy ceremony, and inclusive of everyone that was there,” Margaret said.
Nancy added, “after a year away, it made you appreciate what we do every year more, knowing that it doesn’t take much for it to be taken away from us.”
Both women were excited to be able to celebrate Easter as a community with church doors open.
In his homily, Bishop Vincent spoke about the unknowns the Church faces today following the pandemic and the Royal Commission, but encouraged those present to be custodians of God’s life-giving dream.
“The Word of God this evening speaks of purposeful discernment and critical action in times of chaos. We must have the courage to find new fresh ways of being Church that reflect authentically the person and message of Jesus and empower our people with fresh hope.
“The Church is first and foremost a presence, an oasis of hope and Good News. We must learn to be once again the Church that binds up broken hearts, proclaims freedom to captives and comforts all those who mourn. It is the Church that accompanies people on the margins and the peripheries of life.
“Let us pray that we may grow through chaos and uncertainty in order to be more aligned with God’s purpose. May we become God’s priestly and holy people, anointed to serve and with the one who is the Alpha and Omega, may we bring the Kingdom to birth and to fruitfulness in the world.”
READ: Bishop Vincent’s homily here.
VIEW: Images from the 2021 Chrism Mass below or click here.
WATCH: The 2021 Chrism Mass below or click here.
The Chrism Mass (or Mass of the Holy Oils) is celebrated during Holy Week. The oils are blessed and consecrated during the Mass and are associated with the ancient rituals of anointing used across various religious traditions as symbols of identification, strengthening, healing and sanctification, according to Paul Taylor.
“The Mass of the Holy Oils provides the bishop, priests, deacons, religious and laity who can attend with a wonderful opportunity to be touched again by the presence of Christ, to renew their commitment to participation in Christ’s paschal mystery and priesthood, and to furnish parish communities with the holy oils,” he said.
Paul is the Director of Music at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo. He also serves as the Executive Secretary of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.