Assisted by seminarian Andrew Kreye, Bishop James Powers consecrates the Sacred Chrism used during Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. After the prayer, the bishop breathes over the open vessel. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

The Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior welcomed representatives from almost every parish and Catholic school in the diocese on Tuesday, March 28, for the annual Chrism Mass.

Processing to the opening hymn “Let us Go Rejoicing,” led by the Diocesan Chorale, Bishop James P. Powers entered the sanctuary behind the many priests serving Catholics throughout northwest Wisconsin.

At the beginning of his homily, the bishop addressed Catholic school students, expressing his hopes and prayers that visiting the mother church of the Diocese of Superior would be an experience remembered for the rest of their lives. He added how many, young and old, had never been able to visit the cathedral, much less for such a special occasion.

He thanked the St. Francis Solanus, Reserve, students for the traditional Native drums-and-dance prayer prelude. As well, the Diocesan Chorale, seminarians and other servers, the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree honor guard, the numerous faithful gathered – many of whom come year after year – and those participating by livestream. Lastly, he acknowledged the presence of the permanent deacons, their wives and his brother priests.

“Our gathering this day to celebrate the Chrism Mass,” the bishop said, “that greatest sign of unity of our being one diocesan church.”

Bishop Powers noted the two things taking place at that Mass not done any other time of year. The blessing and consecrating of the sacred oils that will be used in sacramental ministry for the following year, and the public renewal of priestly vows.

Then, reflecting on the readings, he talked about the prophecy of Isaiah and its fulfillment by Jesus in the gospel – a servant of the Lord who would come and institute a new, eternal covenant encompassing and extending beyond that of Moses.

“Today as we gather, we immerse ourselves in the hope and joy and power of Jesus’ fulfillment of that promise of Isaiah … Those words of fulfillment are also words of an invitation to each and every one of us to be sent, to go forth on the mission of evangelization as our Lord’s disciples … By virtue of our baptism and the anointing we have received, we shared in the work and the mission of Isaiah, that work and mission of Jesus Christ himself – to proclaim the love and mercy of God to all the world, from ancient times to the present.”

Bishop Powers described the uses for each oil and its important role in calling down God’s Spirit. The Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens are signs of the unity among believers in the Diocese of Superior and material of the sacramental nature and life of the church.

The Sacred Chrism is used in the celebrations of baptism, confirmation and Holy Orders. The sacraments, the bishop said, “That change the recipient forever.”
Referring to the three deacons upon whose palms he will rub in the sign of the cross the Sacred Chrism, the bishop’s joy was shared in humor, saying, “By God’s grace, I think we’re going to need to consecrate a little extra this year.”

After announcing the names of the three diocesan transitional deacons – Julian Druffner, Isaiah Schick and Dan Tracy – who will be ordained priests in the Cathedral on May 28, Bishop Powers added, “What a joyful celebration that day will be, as (is) this day.”

The bishop then spoke directly to the ordained priests and deacons, “To the degree that you share in the sacrament of Holy Orders, to the degree that you share in the words of Isaiah, today we celebrate the truth of that reading in our lives. The fact that our God has first called us by name and anointed us, not for some special favor or privilege for ourselves, but that we might take the gift we have received from God and in turn share it with others… to the peripheries of the world, to the peripheries of our diocese.”

He thanked them for their generous response to God’s call and the daily renewal of that response in their lived ministry. He acknowledged that following the call isn’t always easy and encouraged, especially in the tough times, “Please don’t ever think that you need to do it on your own. Don’t ever forget that God first called you, and you responded ‘yes.’ Don’t ever forget that God will sustain you.”

Bishop Powers admonished them to make prayer their top priority every day. “We need to let our Lord’s heart speak to our heart, to nourish us and strengthen us for the day ahead, to help us avoid the traps Satan sets for us. In your prayer, also be close to our Blessed Mother, who walks daily with her beloved priests. Let her who bore the Son of God into the world help you bring Christ to the people you minister to.”

He reminded them, as leaders of the communal prayer of their people, of the importance of receiving the sacraments themselves, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. He shared his prayer for them, as the years go by, to be filled with renewed passion, energy, enthusiasm and zeal as that first time that we heard God calling us to be his priests; as when they were anointed with the Sacred Chrism.

To the faithful present and throughout the diocese he said, “I ask you, I beg you, love your priests. Pray for your priests, as they love and pray for you.” He asked for the same love and prayer for himself and assured them of his love and prayer.

“How important as we journey through this world of ours that we love and pray for each other … Alone we stand so weak, but walking and journeying together, supporting and upholding one another, there’s nothing that we can’t do. There’s no obstacle too big, for together we are God’s holy people of the Diocese of Superior, alive in faith and united in prayer – a reflection of that light of Christ shining brightly for all to see.”