Bishop at Chrism Mass: Powerful anointing needed for the people, mission of the diocese


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Jesus preached and taught with power and authority because as the Messiah — God’s Anointed One — He was filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

So are the people He came to save.

“My brothers and sisters in Christ,” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, “we, too, have been anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. We have been consecrated to continue the mission of Jesus to ‘bring glad tidings to the poor,’” (Luke 4:18).

Bishop McKnight presided and preached the homily at the Chrism Mass the morning of March 30, the Tuesday of Holy Week.

There, in anticipation of Holy Thursday, he blessed all the sacramental oils and consecrated the Sacred Chrism that will be used in administering the sacraments throughout the diocese this year.

With him at the altar were priests of the diocese and Bishop Emeritus John R. Gaydos, all of whom joined him in renewing the promises they made at their priestly ordinations.

Honored jubilarians included: Father Clarence E. Wiederholt, who noted his 65th priestly anniversary last year; Father Patrick Dolan and Father John Groner, who are observing their 50th priestly anniversaries this year; Father Gerald Kaimann and Father Michael Quinn, who noted their 50th priestly anniversaries last year; Father Mark Smith, who is observing his 25th priestly anniversary this year; and Father Christopher Cordes and Father William Debo, who noted their 25th priestly anniversaries last year.

About 200 clergy, religious and laypeople attended the Mass.

Only 10 people could attend last year’s Chrism Mass, offered during a statewide stay-at-home order meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s so good to see so many of you in the pews this year!” said Bishop McKnight.

A long round of applause followed his welcoming of Father Michael Coleman and Father Christopher Aubuchon. Both were experiencing serious health issues at this time last year but have made significant progress toward recovery.

In union with Christ

Each year, the Chrism Mass highlights and solidifies the bonds among priests, the bishop, the sacraments and all the faithful who receive them.

The bishop blesses the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens and consecrates the Holy Chrism.

The Oil of Catechumens is used for infants during the baptismal ceremony, and for the anointing of the elect during the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) as they prepare to be baptized. It designates all members of the Church as learners and gives them a protecting strength against evil.

The Oil of the Sick is used for healing in the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Sacred Chrism, named for Christ, is used in Baptism, as well as Confirmation, the ordination of priests and bishops and the dedication of churches and altars.

“The Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick and the Chrism resonate, each in their own way, with the threefold ministry of Jesus Christ — priest, prophet and king,” Bishop McKnight stated.

Jesus instituted each of the sacraments as outward signs that give grace.

“Today we celebrate in a special way the one Priesthood of Jesus Christ, Who was anointed with the Spirit to repair our broken relationship with God and to heal our fractured humanity,” Bishop McKnight stated.

“A sense of renewal”

In his homily, Bishop Mc­Knight focused on various meanings of anointing in the Bible — including the anointing with the Holy Spirit that Jesus in His human nature received at His Baptism in the River Jordan.

That event marked Him receiving “the Gift of the Holy Spirit that empowered the Lord for His public ministry to follow,” said Bishop McKnight.

The Church continues the mission of the Messiah through sacramental signs that involve anointing — including Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Orders.

However, he added, anointing also refers to a state of being and behaving — of having received a great gift and the power to draw people to that same gift.

“It is this kind of anointing to which I draw your attention,” said Bishop McKnight. “We need a sense of renewal in the Holy Spirit among the faithful and the clergy of our Diocese of Jefferson City, so that we may bring glad tidings to the poor in our communities and in our day.”

The bishop asserted that now is the time for the people of this diocese “to live our Christian life together with an abundance of the rich gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

“We have the ability, we have the capacity to share in Christ’s work of redemption, which transforms the way people see and live their lives,” he said.

All Catholic Christians, especially with hope that the worldwide pandemic is entering its late stages, are being called by the Lord “to bring glad tidings to the poor, the lonely, the depressed and anxious,” he said.

The bishop pointed to the three-year diocesan pastoral plan, titled “A Steward’s Journey: Our Call to Greater Communion,” which all the parishes and the diocesan curia helped discern and have begun to implement.

“In this plan, we who have been baptized and confirmed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit, challenge ourselves to adopt the stewardship way of life, in which we trust in God’s providence enough to give more of ourselves in our time, talent and treasure,” said Bishop McKnight.

Additionally, that power and authority of the Spirit must be exercised in a co-responsible fashion, “by which clergy and the laity have a mutual respect for the diverse charisms we have.”

“A culture of co-responsibility allows for a more effective, harmonious and integrated missionary effort,” he noted.

Only then, with all members of the laity and the ordained fully engaged and properly working together, “shall we be capable of fulfilling our dream for parishes to be recognized and experienced by people as centers of charity and sanctuaries of mercy,” he stated.

“Faithful ministers”

Bishop McKnight also emphasized the need for priests to be renewed in Spirit.

He reminded his brother priests that they have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which authorizes them to celebrate the sacraments and preach the Gospel.

“May you also experience the spiritual, interior anointing that allows you to perform your ministry with fervor and charity,” he said.

Likewise, by the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, they were given a share in the apostolic succession.

“By a renewal of Spirit, may your ministry be an apostolic success!” the bishop stated.

After the priests renewed their priestly promises, Bishop McKnight asked the laypeople to “pray for your priests, that the Lord may pour out His gifts abundantly upon them and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest, so that they may lead you to Him, Who is the source of salvation.”

Bishop McKnight also asked the people to pray for him to be faithful to the office of bishop and to be conformed more fully into the image of Christ, “the Priest, the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and Servant of all.”

“Being so close”

Four deacons took part in the procession to present the oils for blessing and consecration.

Deacon Santos Rubio, who assists the pastor of St. Peter Parish in Marshall and is involved in diocesan Hispanic ministry, presented the Oil for the Catechumens.

Deacon Luis Reyes, who assists the pastor of St. Peter Parish in Marshall and the Mission of Holy Family in Sweet Springs and is involved in diocesan Hispanic ministry, presented the Oil for the Sick.

Deacon Fred Schmitz, who assists the pastor of St. Peter Parish in Jefferson City, presented the fragrant balsam for the Oil for Chrism.

Rev. Mr. Derek Hooper, a seminarian and transitional deacon who hopes to be ordained to the Holy Priesthood on June 5, presented the Oil for Chrism.

“I thought it was exciting being able to present the Oil for Chrism that will be used to anoint my hands in June,” Rev. Mr. Hooper stated afterward. “It was truly a spiritual experience, being so close to being a priest of Jesus Christ.”

Other seminarians served in various liturgical roles.

“For distinguished service”

On behalf of Pope Francis, Bishop McKnight and Bishop Emeritus Gaydos presented a Benemerenti Medal to Lisa Oetting.

Ms. Oetting served as executive secretary to Bishop Gaydos from 1997-2018 and to Bishop McKnight until her retirement in 2020.

The papal honor, instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832, is conferred to people “who have shown an active fidelity to and love for the Church,” for distinguished service to Catholic principles, the Church and society.

“Benemerenti” is Latin for “good merit.”

The medal is worn over the chest, suspended by ribbons of the papal colors. It is a gold Greek cross depicting the image of Christ, His hand raised in blessing.

On the left of the transverse arm of the cross is a depiction of the tiara and crossed keys — symbols of the papacy.