By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
Traditionally held at the beginning of Holy Week in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, the Chrism Mass was postponed this year because of a severe spring snowstorm March 29 that made travel perilous and caused power interruptions at the diocesan cathedral.
Three short days later, with dramatically better spring weather, the postponed diocesan celebration was held on Holy Thursday morning, April 1, with priests from across the diocese gathering for the celebration, along with a number of parish representatives.
“We gather again to celebrate another Chrism Mass together as we begin Holy Week – a day when the clergy join with their bishop to celebrate the priesthood – the priesthood of Jesus Christ – and to be renewed in our priestly life,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen in the opening of his homily.
During the celebration, priests stood to renew their priestly commitment and were blessed by the bishop.
The Chrism Mass also includes the blessing of oils used in sacraments — the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism.
During the Chrism Mass the oils were brought forward by Debbie Ledoux, Parish Life Director of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Saskatoon, by Sr. Malou Tibayan of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity, and by Fr. Emmanuel Mbah, hospital chaplain.
Reflecting on the readings and on the situation in the world during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Hagemoen said in his homily: “I find myself these days asking, ‘What does joy, prosperity, and blessing really mean?’ It certainly cannot mean just going back to the way things were before the pandemic. Nor can it mean going back to a time and circumstance when we were not confronted by the kind of difficult issues that we currently face.”
He went on to ask: “Might this be a time when we are renewed – by the real need and call to be prophets and priests in a difficult time? We need to be people of Jesus Christ, who are able to live and show the narrow way to life and love…. and not just externally but internally.”
In these times , the “call to Christ-like renewal” includes key themes and places “where we are called to a prophetic priestly witness of word and service,” Hagemoen said.
He listed some of the challenges in our world that have been made all the more obvious and urgent in a time of pandemic, including:
- the care of vulnerable persons in society and supports offered to medical personnel in hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities;
- the education of young people and supports offered to families and to educators;
- isolation and depression in homes and communities, and the prevalence and stigma of mental illness, substance abuse, suicide and other social ills;
- increased rates of domestic violence, elder abuse and other forms of interpersonal violence;
- societal discord over various responses to COVID-19 that have fractured human relationships and challenged our call to love one another and bear with one another;
- incidents of racism, bigotry and political and religious intolerance
- anxieties caused by great losses of employment and the general situation of economic instability;
- and finally the fragility of our human condition and the basic need that all have for safety, solidarity, and love “within real authentic human community.”
In responding to these challenges, the bishop explored the vital call to respond with both “heart / love” and “truth /law” — and not one without the other.
“The ministry of Jesus Christ calls us to daily conversion about being authentically Christ-like, and about avoiding only Heart, or only Truth …without the fullness of the other. To be in either extreme is too risk not being Christ-like,” Hagemoen said.
“Brothers and Sisters how are we doing at having a profound experience of God – of Jesus Christ?”
He pointed to Pope Francis’ recent Palm Sunday homily, in which the Holy Father said: “Today, there are many people who admire Jesus: He said beautiful things; He was filled with love and forgiveness; His example changed history … and so on. They admire Him, but their lives are not changed. To admire Jesus is not enough. We have to follow in His footsteps, to let ourselves be challenged by Him; to pass from admiration to amazement.”
The bishop concluded: “We have the remarkable privilege – and duty of course – to make real and present to the world the powerful, healing, and life-giving presence of the Saviour who has walked with us, has suffered and died, and now is risen. He calls us beyond our incompleteness and pain, to a new promise and reality – indeed, new hope for the world.”
At the conclusion of the celebration, the bishop also recognized priests celebrating milestone anniversaries this year — an annual tradition at the diocesan Chrism Mass celebration.
Priests celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2021 include:
- 60 Years: Fr. Wendeliin Rolheiser, OMI, and Fr. Daniel Muyres, OSB
- 55 Years: Fr. Bill Stang, OMI
- 50 Years: Fr. Ron Griffin, CSB
- 40 Years: Fr. Nestor Silva, OMI
- 35 Years: Fr. Les Paquin and Fr. Stefano Penna
- 25 Years: Fr. Demetrius Wasylyniuk, OSB
- 20 Years: Fr. Emmanuel Olusola and Fr. Bruce McAllister
- 15 Years: Fr. Peter Olisa and Fr. Charles Nweze
- 10 Years: Fr. Matthew Ramsay and Fr. Geoffrey Young
- 5 Years: Fr. Graham Hill, CSsR