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Bishop Celebrates ‘Precious Gift’ of Priesthood at Annual Chrism Mass

By Denis Grasska

MIRA MESA — On April 10, Bishop Cirilo Flores celebrated his first chrism Mass since becoming bishop of San Diego last September.

Held at Good Shepherd Parish in Mira Mesa, the chrism Mass is the annual liturgy at which the diocesan bishop blesses the sacred oils that are distributed to parishes and used throughout the year in sacramental celebrations.

These include the oil of the sick, used to administer the anointing of the sick; the oil of the catechumens, used as a preparation for baptism; and sacred chrism, the perfumed oil used in conferring the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and priestly orders.

More than 140 priests were in attendance. Retired Bishop Robert H. Brom and retired Auxiliary Bishop Gilbert E. Chávez were seated in the sanctuary.

In his homily, Bishop Flores explained that the blessing of oils is not the only purpose of the chrism Mass, which also celebrates the institution of the ordained priesthood and provides local priests with an opportunity to publicly renew the commitments made at their ordination.

“It is so fitting that our wonderful lay people surround us,” he said, “since the Holy Spirit often uses your inspirational Catholic lives to challenge, support and lift us as we pray for you and try to serve you.”

Bishop Flores described priesthood as “a precious gift to the Church” and reflected on “the unspeakable privilege” of being empowered to make Jesus present under the appearance of bread and wine.

“Who can fathom this mystery? It boggles the mind,” he said, adding that “without the priest, there would be no Eucharist.”

Bishop Flores thanked all of his brother priests, including those celebrating major milestones such as a 25th or 50th anniversary of ordination, for responding to God’s call and for their continuing service to the Church. He also urged prayers for the souls of deceased bishops and priests, and he prayed through the intercession of Mary that God would bless the diocese’s priests and also add to their number.

He noted that the chrism that would be blessed later in the liturgy will be used next month when three transitional deacons — Alexander De Paulis, Minh Do and Lauro Minimo — are ordained to the priesthood.

“Jesus calls out, ‘Come follow Me.’ May many young men hear the call to the priesthood,” Bishop Flores said. “May many young women and men hear the call to consecrated religious life.

Joy and gratitude were common themes throughout Bishop Flores’ homily.

The bishop urged those in attendance to heed Pope Francis’ call “to go out as joyful missionary disciples” to share the Gospel.

“And how can we not be joyful if we are missionary disciples?” he asked.

Citing Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” Bishop Flores reminded the congregation that God “delights ... in each one of us, personally.”

“How can we stop giving praise and thanks to God?” he asked.

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