April 14, 2023

Archdiocesan Catholics are empowered for mission at annual chrism Mass

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson ritually breathes into chrism oil on April 4, Tuesday of Holy Week, at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis during the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass. Assisting at the Mass are transitional Deacon Jose Neri, left, and seminarian Samuel Hansen. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson ritually breathes into chrism oil on April 4, Tuesday of Holy Week, at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis during the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass. Assisting at the Mass are transitional Deacon Jose Neri, left, and seminarian Samuel Hansen. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

The annual archdiocesan chrism Mass brings together Catholics from across central and southern Indiana.

Lay Catholics representing most of the 125 archdiocesan parishes, members of religious communities serving in the archdiocese, as well as deacons, seminarians and priests all gathered with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson on April 4, Tuesday of Holy Week, in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for this year’s liturgy.

During the Mass, more than 150 priests serving in the archdiocese renewed their ordination promises. (Related: See a photo gallery from the Mass)

Archbishop Thompson blessed oils used in sacraments and in the dedication of altars and churches. And parish representatives received those oils to take back for use in their faith communities.

Amid these unique moments in the life of the Church, all those worshipping in the cathedral during the chrism Mass were still gathered before its altar to celebrate the Eucharist in the midst of the first year of the National Eucharistic Revival.

Father Matthew Perronie experienced this year’s chrism Mass for the first time as a priest, having been ordained last June.

It was a clear reminder to him of the importance of the Eucharist to the Church in central and southern Indiana.

“The Eucharist unites us,” said Father Perronie, parochial vicar of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, in comments after the Mass. “Looking out today, I saw this person that I encountered in this place and that person in that place. And here we were all together. What brought us together was the Eucharist.”

He appreciated renewing his ordination promises alongside the priests serving in the archdiocese.

“It brought me back to the day of my ordination,” Father Perronie said. “And here were all of these priests who have been around for many more years than I have. But I’m here now renewing—united with them—the commitment that I made less than a year ago.”

Transitional Deacon Jack Wright, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Richmond, assisted at the liturgy and witnessed all those priests renewing the same ordination promises that he will make on June 3 when he and transitional Deacon Jose Neri will be ordained priests.

“It reminded me that we don’t just make the promises one time and then forget about them,” Deacon Wright said. “We renew them every year. And we just don’t renew them by ourselves. We come together with all of the other priests in the archdiocese in front of the archbishop and renew them together.”

In his homily during the Mass, Archbishop Thompson spoke about the importance of this unity among all the faithful.

“We proclaim the good news of salvation in [Christ] as the way, the truth and the life,” he said. “To proclaim ourselves, making our egos and agenda the focal point, is to discredit discipleship and betray the mission.

“We are only credible if we are united in the mind and heart of the Church. And our Church has two wonderful ways of doing that. One is the synodal process that Pope Francis has brought to the universal Church. The other is our National Eucharistic Revival. Two means by which we can grow in unity. … We must embrace both.”

The unity at the chrism Mass was seen amid great diversity. Catholics—lay, religious and ordained—from around the world who have come to live in central and southern Indiana took part in the liturgy.

“It’s like a holy family coming together,” said Louise Rohrig, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Osgood. “It’s so holy. It feels like you’re getting nearer and nearer to Jesus all the time.”

Benedictine Novice Angel Romero attended the chrism Mass from Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, where he is in the initial year of his religious formation. He came to St. Meinrad from his native Mexico and was happy to see Catholics from around the world at the liturgy.

“It’s part of the richness of the Catholic Church,” said Novice Angel. “Many people from many cultures have come to the archdiocese and for this celebration. The Catholic faith is universal.”

Sitting not far away from him was Megan Gehrich, youth minister for St. Mary Parish in Greensburg, who received blessed oils for her faith community.

Born and raised in the archdiocese, Gehrich was impressed by worshipping with fellow Catholics from around the world at the Mass.

“One of my favorite things about being a Catholic is that, at any hour of the day, there’s someone celebrating Mass in all countries,” Gehrich said. “Seeing that represented here is very special.”

Sarah Heard, a student at Marian University in Indianapolis who worshiped at the chrism Mass, echoed Gehrich’s sentiments.

“It reminds me of the one faith that we celebrate,” said Heard. “We all come from different parishes [and countries], but it’s the same Mass that we’re celebrating and the same faith. Us worshipping together is really cool.”

Heard and her fellow Marian student attending the Mass, Nick Vander Pluym, are San Damiano Scholars and are considering serving in the Church in the future. Others at the Mass, like Gehrich, are lay ministers in parishes across central and southern Indiana.

Pam Deveary came to the cathedral from Prince of Peace Parish in Madison where she leads liturgical music. For her, the chrism Mass was a valued respite during a very busy Holy Week.

“Because I’m music director, I’m involved in all the [liturgies of Holy Week] in my home parish,” said Deveary, who noted that she has been coming to the chrism Mass for more than 40 years. “But for this one, I come and enjoy. I just sit and enjoy everything. It’s a gift to myself.”

Referring to the oils blessed during the liturgy, Archbishop Thompson reflected in his homily on how all members of the Church have an integral role in carrying out its mission of evangelization.

“Through the sacred oils—chrism, catechumen and the infirmed—we are anointed in [Christ] to carry on his mission to the world,” he said. “In doing so, we allow ourselves to be instruments through which the world is transformed rather than allowing the world to get the best of us.”

Benedictine Sister Jeana Visel helps prepare lay Catholics for ministry in the Church as director of graduate theology programs at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

“We are one Church,” she said. “It’s not just the priests who are anointed. It’s the whole people of God in our baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. We’re anointed as priest, prophet and king. That’s all of us together at some level.”

As a member of the archdiocesan eucharistic revival planning team, Sister Jeana was happy to take part in such a special Mass.

She spoke of how the Eucharist empowers all Catholics to share in the ministry of Christ and the Church, something highlighted at the end of the Mass.

“We are sent forth to be the body of Christ where we are and serve,” Sister Jeana said. “What a great mission. What a great diversity of callings, even as we are in unity as one body of Christ.” †

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