BRIDGEPORT– “Offering the sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest gift we share as priests,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano told the more than 200 priests who processed into St. Augustine Cathedral for the Chrism Mass as the choir sang the hymn, “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation.”
The dramatic 12-minute procession including priests, deacons and seminarians began the Chrism Mass in which priests renew their priestly promises and the Bishop blesses the holy oils used in the sacraments throughout the year.
Hundreds filled the Cathedral for the beautiful liturgy that began at 3 p.m. when the Bishop and priests lined up outside the Cathedral overlooking downtown Bridgeport.
The Chrism Mass liturgy celebrates the communion of the Church and the fraternity of priests. The Bishop also asks priests to pray for him that he may “be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness and that in your midst I may be made day by day a living and more perfect image of Christ.”
“There is no greater work we do than to offer this sacrifice in the name of Christ,” the Bishop said in his homily. “We hold this sacred, awesome mystery in our hands. This mystery of grace is wrapped up in our unworthiness. It is the one sacrifice that has set all of creation free.”
As the priests prepared to stand and renew their promises of ordination, the Bishop said that he and other priests are often asked why they chose to become priests.
“It’s a simple question to ask, but hard to answer,” he said. “Priesthood is not so much a decision to be made, but a call to be discerned.”
The Bishop urged the priests to remain “joyful, obedient, and faithful” and not to get discouraged.
“It’s not easy to offer sacrifice in the world in which we live. We all may be tempted to be discouraged or to ask if it makes a difference,” he said. “Always remember that Jesus can do what you and I can’t do on our own.”
Throughout his talk the Bishop urged priests to keep their eyes on Jesus, “the one who brings us together.”
“Let us pray for one another, overlook our differences, keep our eyes on Jesus and offer the sacrifice affirming our one and only savior,” the Bishop said to end his homily.
In the renewal of priestly promises following the Gospel, the Bishop says, ”Beloved sons, on the anniversary of that day when Christ our Lord conferred his priesthood on his Apostles and on us, are you resolved to renew, in the presence of God’s holy people, the promises you once made?”
“I am,” answered the 200 priests who stood before him.
The Presentation of the Oils was performed by the Knights and Dames of Malta and the Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre. Diocesan seminarians acted as altar servers.
The choir for the liturgy performed under the direction of Dr. John T. Michniewicz, Director of Music Ministries and Organist at 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.
Following 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.