Chrism Mass draws Catholics from each deanery

Photo by Marisa McDonald.

RALEIGH – Representatives from throughout the Diocese of Raleigh arrived at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral March 26 for Chrism Mass. It’s celebrated annually and considered one of the most solemn and important liturgies of the year.

Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama blessed the oil of the catechumen and oil of the sick. Both oils were carried to the altar pre-bottled in baskets. He also consecrated the sacred chrism, which is used for confirmations, ordinations, baptisms and blessings of altars and churches.

Sitting in chairs on the altar or together in what’s known as the Mary transept of the cathedral, the priests gathered verbally renewed their commitment to priestly service as part of the Chrism Mass.

During his homily Bishop wished the congregants a “good morning” and discussed the readings.

“The spirit of the Lord is upon us, and we have been witnesses of that,” he said, noting that he felt the perfect and beautiful love of God during the procession into the cathedral. “The whole church was a choir. I prefer to listen. The beauty of the songs … ‘forever we will sing the goodness of the Lord.’”

He added that he felt lucky to be in the moment and celebrating Chrism Mass during the centennial, or 100th anniversary, of the diocese. He encouraged those present to help the Church to shine.

“We need to be open to be simple instruments in God’s service,” he said. “The most important thing for us to remember is that it is he who works … it’s not me. It’s not you. It’s Jesus acting and doing the things … to bring the good news to the people.”

After the homily volunteers carried five large, clear bottles of oil, which would become the sacred chrism during the liturgy, to the altar. Once it was prepared by bishop in front of the congregation, the bottles were taken to the back of the cathedral where about 15 seminarians and volunteers from Raleigh’s St. Luke Parish and St. Francis of Assisi Parish prepared oils for each parish, and small containers for each priest.

“It’s a really nice way to enter Holy Week,” said volunteer Filipe Mendez, who has been with the Chrism Mass team for about 15 years. “I enjoy the fellowship and getting to know the seminarians.”

Longtime volunteer Tim Nichols feels similarly. “I like the camaraderie. And it’s a lot of pressure” he smiled, acknowledging that it’s challenging to prepare and box hundreds of bottles of oil in about 40 minutes. “After doing this a certain number of years we have done all the parts of the process and have a bond.”

After the congregation received Communion, representatives from parishes, campus ministries, missions, stations and military bases located in the diocese came forward to receive their oils. As singing and music from drums helped to create a joyful environment, the representatives came forward to receive oils from the deans when called by Father Michael Burbeck, vicar general for the diocese.

Following the 2.5-hour Mass, priests gathered in the new Cathedral Parish Hall for lunch together. It was the first occasion of its kind in the new building.


Gallery photos by Marisa McDonald and Diocese of Raleigh.