The annual Chrism Mass was celebrated by Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge on Tuesday, March 30 at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Cary. The Mass is one of the most solemn and important liturgies of the Church. It provides a public expression of the unity of the Diocese with representatives from the 96 parishes and mission churches in attendance. The Mass also reflects the unity of the Bishop and priests and celebrates the ministry of Priesthood. During the liturgy, the priests renew their commitment of service and are offered the prayers and support of the people of the Diocese.
An important part of the Mass is the Blessing of the Oil of the Sick, the Blessing of the Oil of the Catechumens and the Consecration of the Chrism. Five large vessels of each are brought in to the sanctuary by members of the Diocesan faithful for blessing by the Bishop. In his homily, Bishop Burbidge noted the significance of the individuals chosen to bring forth the vessels. One of those carrying the Oil of the Sick was a person who was recently anointed, along with his caregiver. The Oil of Catechumens was presented by several individuals, including one who was received into the Church last year and who was representing the approximately 500 who will be baptized this year at the Easter Vigil. Among those carrying the Sacred Chrism was Deacon John Vic Gournas, who is scheduled to be ordained to the Priesthood May 22, 2010. The Chrism will be used in his ordination.
“The Chrism Mass is a very special day for priests,” Bishop Burbidge said, “because they are asked by the Church to renew their priestly promises and to rededicate themselves to Jesus Christ.” Addressing his brother priests, the Bishop said, “With all the faithful who gather today and those throughout our Diocese, I express heartfelt thanks to you for your priestly vocation.”
Noting that the universal Church is celebrating a Year for Priests, Bishop Burbidge said, “My brothers, it is my prayer that this Year has helped you to be renewed in your imitation of Jesus as Priest, Teacher and Pastor of souls.”
Bishop Burbidge expressed gratitude and prayerful best wishes to Bishop Emeritus F. Joseph Gossman for his continued service to the Diocese, extending congratulations to Bishop Gossman, who will celebrate his 80th birthday on April 1.
At the conclusion of the liturgy, the oils were presented to the representatives of each parish to be taken back for use during the coming year.
Above: Priests serving in the Diocese of Raleigh at annual Chrism Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Cary.
Below: Deacon John Vic Gournas, who is scheduled to be ordained to the Priesthood on May 22, carrying one of the vessels of Sacred Chrism that will be used in his ordination.