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Cardinal Reflects on Richness of Priesthood at Chrism Mass

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SAN DIEGO – The Diocese of San Diego’s annual Chrism Mass was celebrated March 30 at Good Shepherd Parish in Mira Mesa.

Cardinal Robert W. McElroy presided over the liturgy, which was concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano and a large number of priests from throughout the diocese. The priests filled up many of the pews in the church’s center aisle.During the Mass, Cardinal McElroy consecrated the sacred chrism and blessed the oil of the catechumens and the oil of the sick.Chrism is a perfumed oil that is used to anoint the newly baptized, to sign those who are to be confirmed, to anoint the hands of priests and the heads of bishops at their ordinations, and to dedicate churches and altars. The oil of the catechumens prepares individuals for baptism, while the oil of the sick is used in the anointing of the sick.After the Mass, in the parish hall, representatives from each parish received the holy oils on behalf of their community. The oils will be used in sacramental celebrations throughout the year.In his homily, Cardinal McElroy recalled the late Bishop David O’Connell, an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, who was murdered Feb. 18.“If his death was a tragedy, which it was, it was also a moment of great revelation … (of) the beauties and the richness of the nature of priesthood itself,” he said.At the funeral Mass, he said, a fellow bishop told him that Bishop O’Connell had been “a dreamer of dreams, a pastor of souls and a source of unending healing and consolation.”“It strikes me that those are the very themes of the priesthood itself … and that they are indeed themes of the sacraments whose oils we celebrate this day,” the cardinal said.As he concluded his homily, he said, “Our call and our ministry (as priests) is never for ourselves, not for us as a group, but is always emblazoned in the wider life of the Church.”Immediately following his homily and just prior to the blessing of the oils, Cardinal McElroy called upon the priests to publicly renew the promises made at their ordination.

For Alex Gonsalves, who accepted the holy oils on behalf of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Carlsbad, this was his first time attending a chrism Mass.He felt “honored” and “very blessed … to represent the parish,” noting that he “just got here” in terms of entering the Catholic Church.Gonsalves recently converted to Catholicism. Chrism from last year’s liturgy was used when he was confirmed in late January.Connie and Tom Frichtel were the representatives of St. Agnes Parish in Point Loma.For Connie, who had never attended a chrism Mass before, one of the most striking moments was the priests’ renewal of their promises.“It just went right to your soul,” she said.This was the second consecutive year that Eric Moldenhauer attended as a representative of Queen of Angels Parish in Alpine.He said it was “quite an honor” to fulfill this role and joked that he felt “like there’s a halo over me or something.”“I love seeing all the priests and I love seeing the cardinal,” he said, “and the atmosphere (at the chrism Mass) is just beautiful.”

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