During annual Chrism Mass, Archbishop Fabre thanks priests for the many ways they serve

The pounding echoes of a bass drum and the swelling of voices singing “Lift High the Cross” opened the annual Chrism Mass on the evening of March 26 at the Cathedral of the Assumption. Representatives of parishes around the Archdiocese of Louisville filled nearly every seat at the multilingual liturgy.

That was the setting as Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre blessed the oil of the sick and the oil of catechumens and consecrated the sacred chrism for the coming year. The oils were later divided for distribution to all of the archdiocese’s 110 Catholic communities across its 24 counties.

During his homily, Archbishop Fabre offered catechesis on the meaning and use of each sacramental oil, concluding with a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre poured balsam into olive oil before consecrating the mixture as the sacred chrism. Seminarian Evrard Muhoza assisted him. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

“Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: oil is a sign of abundance and joy; it cleanses and limbers; oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds; and it makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength.”

He went on to note, “Anointing with these three sacramental oils consecrated and blessed here this evening reminds us that each of us has been anointed, chosen, healed and comforted, as well as given a mission by God. These three oils convey to us grace and strength in the Lord.

A decanter of olive oil was carried in procession to the archbishop to be blessed as the oil of the sick. The oil is used for anointing those who are sick, aged or near the end of life. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

“Similarly to those anointed in sacred Scripture, we have been touched by the grace offered by these oils in ordination, in baptism, in confirmation or illness,” said Archbishop Fabre. “And we know that we too have been set apart by God to trust in him and to serve others.”

Archbishop Fabre also acknowledged and expressed gratitude for the priests of the archdiocese, who renewed the promises they made at ordination after the homily. 

Priests serving in the Archdiocese of Louisville renewed the promises they made at ordination during the annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption March 26. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

Dozens of priests serving in the Archdiocese of Louisville were in attendance, nodding and chuckling as Archbishop Fabre detailed the many ways they are called to serve.

“I am deeply grateful for each of you and for your priestly ministry,” he told the priest. “I am thankful for your celebrations of the Eucharist, for the confessions you hear and the absolution you provide, for the baptisms you celebrate, and the marriage vows that you witness. I am grateful for the anointings that you give, for the attention and the hope that you bring to the sick and to the homebound.”

Catechists carried oil to the archbishop to be blessed for use in anointing catechumens. Adults and children are anointed with the oil of catechumens prior to baptism (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

The archbishop continued to name a litany of ways priests serve the people of the archdiocese in addition to their sacred and sacramental roles.

“I thank you for answering the doorbell, the landline, your cell phone,” he said. “I thank you for surrendering your day off when you needed to bring comfort to a grieving family at a funeral. 

“I thank you for dealing with parish budgets and finances and for dealing with parish personnel matters,” he continued. “I thank you for addressing aging and leaking roofs, lawncare, parking lot and cemetery maintenance.

All priests who were able gathered around the altar during the Chrism Mass for the liturgy of the Eucharist. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

“I thank you for all the time you spend alone at a meal,” he said.

Afterward, he led the priests in renewing their priestly promises and then proceeded to bless and consecrate the sacramental oils which will be used in parishes this year for baptisms, confirmation, anointing the sick and in other ways.

Marnie McAllister
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Marnie McAllister
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