Priests reminded of blessings, responsibilities at chrism

CHARLESTON—Diocesan priests renewed their commitment to serve the people of God in South Carolina at the annual chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Also called the Mass of the Oils, it is traditionally held on the Tuesday of Holy Week.

During the liturgy, the bishop consecrates sacred oils to be used in sacraments during the coming year.

They are the oil of catechumens, used in baptism; oil of the sick, to anoint the ill; and oil of sacred chrism, considered the chief anointing oil and used for sacraments of initiation, dedications and holy orders.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated the Mass, and noted that the day, April 19, was the sixth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. He mentioned the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II, and reflected on the late pope’s writings on the role of the priest as a shepherd who has received a special gift of the Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit makes it possible to be all that God desires us to be, and do what he desires us to do,” the bishop said. “You’ve been sealed with a charge to participate in building the kingdom of God.”

He acknowledged that a priest’s life could be very difficult, filled with seemingly endless responsibilities and challenges that don’t diminish with experience or age.

“We are too few to respond to all calls … and the isolation that our diocese presents can be an extra difficulty,” he said.  “One priest may serve a very large parish or multiple small parishes, and that can make it difficult to get to know parishioners. It can be difficult to respond to the call to minister to the sick. Sometimes we feel guilty that we can’t always respond to what is asked of us.”

Bishop Guglielmone said it is hard for priests to find time for rest and prayer in an age when “the desk is never cleared, the voice mailbox is never empty and the e-mails never cease.”

Despite the challenges, priests need to remember their commitment to serve and to personify Christ’s example to everyone they meet.

“Pastoral charity directs us to deal with people in a kind, gentle and thoughtful manner,” he said.

The bishop said diocesan priests and those who belong to religious orders need to support and reach out to each other whenever possible, which will help all priests better serve the people of the diocese.

“The oils we are consecrating today are the oils we use throughout the diocese,” he said. “This is a sign of the unity that is part of our mission. We must be devoted to the mission of the entire church. May God give us strength to live it out with joy!”

When the Mass ended, the Cathedral echoed with the congregation’s applause in honor of the priests.

At a luncheon after Mass, Bishop Guglielmone recognized several priests who are celebrating their 25th anniversary and their jubilee, or 50th anniversary, this year.

Four priests will mark the 25th anniversary of their ordination: Franciscan Father Paul M. Williams, Adorno Father Edgardo O. Enverga, and Fathers Charles J. Snopek and Andrew J. Vollkommer. Celebrating jubilees are Fathers Ernest Hepner and Joseph Ayathupadam.

The chrism Mass was Father Artur D. Przywara’s first one since his ordination in 2010. A native of Poland, he is parochial vicar at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg.

“I really love the beauty of this liturgy,” he said. “It’s a great way of celebrating the precious gift of the priesthood. The oils that are consecrated reminded me of the special responsibility I have as a priest to offer the sacraments to the people I serve.”