Church Can be Light in a Dark World, Bishop Tells Priests at Chrism Mass

BRIDGEPORT– Bishop Caggiano urged his brother priests to grow in “fraternity and unity” as they minister to an increasingly divided and polarized world, at the Chrism Mass held this afternoon at St. Augustine Cathedral.

Hundreds filled the Cathedral for the mid-afternoon liturgy, where the bishop directly addressed his priests during the homily and blessed the oils used throughout the year in parishes as priests administer the sacraments.

“We are living in an age of spiritual twilight. Love is growing cold and dim,” the Bishop. “We are not a world of unity, but increasingly one of violence, oppression and war. There are too many have-nots.”

“We can be a light in the darkness, a sign of hope and an alternative to what the world offers if people feel the living presence of Christ through us,” the bishop said told the priests, deacons, religious and laity who gathered for the Mass that celebrates the unity and communion of the Church.

The Renewal of Priests Promises began with a simple question from the bishop to the priests, ”Beloved sons, are you resolved to renew in the presence of God’s holy people the promises you once made?”

“I am,” answered the 200 priests in unison.

During the service, the bishop also presided over the installation of the new Deans as part of the territorial reorganization into a deanery structure to replace the former vicariates.

Msgr. Thomas Powers, Vicar General of the Diocese, called the new Deans forward for a brief oath installation ceremony. The new Deans include Fr. Peter Lynch, Fr. Thomas Lynch, Fr. Brian Gannon, Fr. Nicholas Cirillo, Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz, Fr. Thomas Thorne, Msgr. Walter Orlowski, Msgr. Kevin Royal, and Msgr. Alan Detscher.

The bishop said the new deanery structure better corresponds to the territorial areas of the diocese and should foster “greater collaboration between parishes and renewed fraternity among clergy.”

At the end of Mass the Bishop presided over the Blessing of the Oil of Catechumens and the Consecration of the Chrism. During the consecration, all concelebrants extended their right hands as the bishop stirred the oils.

Before the recessional, the bishop again thanked the priests for living their vows “generously and quietly each day of the year.”

He told them it was a challenging time to be a priest. “We can’t do it alone, we must do it as brothers.”

As the Church moves deeper into Holy Week, the bishop urged all those present to “Walk with the Lord to Calvary, go to the garden with Him, stay with him in the upper room.”

“On the day of our Baptism, we were made members of the mystical body of Christ, a bond God will never break,” the bishop said.

The choir for the liturgy performed under the direction of Dr. John T. Michniewicz, Director of Music Ministries and Organist St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan, and Director of the Choral Program at Sacred Heart University.

Fr. Francisco Gomez-Franco served as Episcopal Master of Ceremonies and was assisted by Deacon Patrick Toole.

After Mass, the holy oils that were consecrated on the altar were distributed to priests who will use them in their parishes when blessing the sick and in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Chrism Masses are traditionally celebrated during Holy Week or on the morning of Holy Thursday. It is a beautiful liturgy that celebrates the communion of the Church.

Pictures by Amy Mortensen