Priests of the diocese gather for Sacred Chrism Mass

Additional Pictures of Chrism Mass

CHARLESTON — The Sacred Chrism Mass was celebrated by Bishop David B. Thompson last Tuesday, April 7, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Priests in service to the Diocese of Charleston were concelebrants.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Bishop Thompson mentioned the work of several priests who assist him in his ministry; Father Francis Kline, abbot of Mepkin Abbey and director of the diocesan Office of Worship; Msgr. James Carter, vicar general of the diocese and pastor of Christ Our King Church in Mount Pleasant; and Father Joseph Wahl, CO, director of the diocesan Institute for Parish Leadership Development. In addition, he thanked the four vicars forane, “my representatives to you.”

The bishop also gave special recognition to six priests who are celebrating jubilees of their ordinations this year. Father John Sheehan, SMA, is celebrating 50 years of priesthood this year; while five others, Father Donald S. Abbot, Father John P. Coffey, Father John Dux, Father Chet M. Moczydlowski, and Father Michael J. Polewczak, are observing 25 years since ordination.

Addressing over 100 priests filling row after row of the cathedral, Bishop Thompson said, “You are staked by your ordination. We are member of one mystical Body of Christ. We are also reminded that Christ came not to be served, but to serve.”

Huge silver urns containing the Oil of the Sick, the Old of Catechumens and the Oil of Chrism were brought to the altar by Deacons Frederick Hoffmann, James Johnson, Philip Meyer, August Mirande, Roland Thomas, and James Young. The oils were blessed by the bishop of Charleston.

During a convocation for priests and pastoral administrators following the liturgy, Father John Canary, rector of Mundelein Seminary in Illinois, spoke. In his talk, Father Canary focused on transitions, which he called “occasions for grace,” giving aids to help with these experiences as well as responses that are not helpful.

He described the different cultural shifts and societal changes that have taken place in society, focusing on the family system, educational system, residential moves, and career changes.

Common dynamics of change, he said, feature two moments; one of departure and separation and another of relocation and new beginnings. Father Canary stressed that these are distinct tasks because one brings closure while the other explores new possibilities.

He called departure “a moment of growth and gratitude and acceptance of the person we are.” Although admitting that change is “painful,” Father Canary emphasized that the intensity of the pain depends on attitude. “There is some loss and risk wherever we are going,” he said, adding, however, “there is also a sense of excitement and anticipation.”

Other feelings that can be stirred in moments of transition, the seminary rector said, are emotions of feeling threatened, anger, and fragility. “The impact of transition is real,” Father Canary stated. He also offered the following insight: “What is not dealt with here and now must be dealt with sooner or later or something destructive will begin to happen to the person or persons involved.”

Father Canary urged those in attendance to take time and prepare for transitions. “It is important for people to recognize that they are appreciated as well as assess the learning that has occurred.”

During change, he said, set short term goals about where you are going and what lies ahead. “Simply say yes in times of transition and begin the process of investment.”

In closing, Father Canary again discussed that “transition can be a moment of faith,” telling attendees to “not lose confidence or lose heart.”

Following Father Canary’s remarks, Bishop Thompson presented gifts to the jubilarians in honor of the 25th and 50th anniversaries of ordination. Father Donald S. Abbott, presently serving at St. Dorothy Parish in Wilmington, Mass., was recognized in absentia.

Meanwhile, deacons distributed the blessed oils to the vessels brought by the pastors and pastoral administrators from parishioners across the state. Those oils will be used in parish ceremonies during the next year.