April 5, 2024

Chrism Mass draws Catholics from across the archdiocese to celebrate their faith

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson ritually breathes on chrism oil on March 26 during the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Assisting at the Mass are transitional Deacon Bobby Vogel, left, and seminarian Samuel Hansen. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson ritually breathes on chrism oil on March 26 during the annual archdiocesan chrism Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Assisting at the Mass are transitional Deacon Bobby Vogel, left, and seminarian Samuel Hansen. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Catholics from across central and southern Indiana made their way on March 26 to SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis for one of the holiest days of the Church’s liturgical year.

They were young and old, born in places around the world but all now living in Indiana. They were lay, religious and ordained Catholics, all gathered with Archbishop Charles C. Thompson.

The annual chrism Mass celebrated during Holy Week is the one liturgy in which the archdiocese is best represented in one place. (Related: See a photo gallery from the Mass here)

A group of teenagers from Richmond came to Indianapolis to experience it for the first time. Among them was Lily Feist, a freshman at Seton Catholic High School. She was excited to be at the Mass because Archbishop Thompson would bless the chrism oil that would anoint her forehead in November when she will receive the sacrament of confirmation.

“Witnessing it will be great for me,” Lily said before the liturgy. “I’m a person who likes to see how things are done. Being able to see what I’m going to be confirmed with is really amazing.

“I really enjoy seeing all the different people—youth, elderly, everyone. It’s really wonderful that everyone is able to come together to witness such a great thing. Being here brings me in closer to my faith. Witnessing something like this for the first time is going to be great in building up my faith.”

Cyndi Voegele knows from experience how much the chrism Mass builds up her faith. A member of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County who coordinates its pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade catechetical program, she said she has attended the chrism Mass at least 35 times.

“It’s an honor,” Voegele said. “It’s such a testament to our Catholic faith. The richness of the liturgy itself draws all of us together. This is the covenant that we all share in Christ’s body, blood, passion, soul and divinity—the whole thing.”

In his homily during the Mass, Archbishop Thompson praised the “enriching diversity” on display during the liturgy.

“We are bound together—clergy, religious, laity—as the people of God, as something greater than ourselves, the body of Christ,” he said. “It is the Holy Spirit that unites us in all our diversity. It is the desire and willingness to seek the will of God that enables us to rise above egos, ideologies and personal agendas.”

He went on to note that the oils he was about to bless were reminders of “the call to holiness and mission of all the baptized [which] necessarily requires that we … rely upon divine grace to fill up what is lacking in our human merit.” (Related story: Archbishop Thompson relates annual chrism Mass to defining moments in the Church)

Those oils are used in the dedication of churches and altars and the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, holy orders and the anointing of the sick.

Representatives from parishes and religious congregations across central and southern Indiana received the oils and took them back to their faith communities to be used at the Easter Vigil.

And some 150 priests from across the archdiocese concelebrated the chrism Mass with Archbishop Thompson, renewing the promises they made at their ordination.

Witnessing this recommitment to priestly life and ministry were three transitional deacons at the liturgy who will be ordained archdiocesan priests on June 1: deacons Anthony Armbruster, Samuel Rosko and Bobby Vogel.

The chrism oils blessed at the liturgy will be used to anoint their hands at their ordination.

Deacon Vogel, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Jennings County, was impressed by seeing so many priests renew the promises that he will make in about two months.

“It moved my heart,” he said. “I’ll be part of the presbyterate of a Church that is universal and so beautiful. It’s such an honor and gift to be chosen for something that I could never dare to take for myself.”

Father Jose Neri, parochial vicar of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, was in the deacons’ position last year. He was ordained a priest on June 3, 2023, with Father Jack Wright, parochial vicar of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.

“It was very emotional,” said Father Neri of this year’s chrism Mass. “Instead of being by the altar [as a deacon] waiting to be ordained, I was with the priests. It felt good.”

He spoke, too, of how priestly life and ministry has been fulfilling for him during the past year.

“It’s been awesome,” said Father Neri. “I enjoy it very much. I enjoy being with the people and everything that I do—celebrating the sacraments, getting to know the people.”

The richness of the chrism Mass in its rituals and the faith of the diverse people gathered at it sparked emotions in Elyse Turula, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, who received oils for her faith community.

Raised in the faith, Turula, 61, was away from the Church for a period before returning to it three years ago.

“It’s so good to be back,” she said before the chrism Mass. “I have a much fuller and deeper appreciation of it now.”

She said she was “overwhelmed at the privilege” of bringing the oils to her parish that will be used to welcome people into the Church at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.

“I’m just so happy for all the people coming into this beautiful faith,” Turula said. “I’m so happy for them.” †

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