Diocesan News

At Chrism Mass, Bishop Brennan Urges Priests to Get Even Closer to Jesus

Bishop Brennan prepares to consecrate the chrism oil that will be used in churches throughout the year. (Photo: Paula Katinas)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Bishop Robert Brennan delivered a strong message of faith to hundreds of priests at the annual Chrism Mass on Tuesday, April 4, calling on the assembled clergy to become even closer to Jesus Christ than they are now and to urge all Catholics to do the same.

“For the majority of Christians, Jesus is a personality, not a person,” Bishop Brennan said, adding that there is a “crisis of faith” in the world.

In his homily, Bishop Brennan told priests that the duty of proclaiming the Gospel also calls on them to have the ability to see Jesus as a real person. “If we don’t see Jesus as a real person, how can we speak of his presence? Jesus calls on us not only to preach the content of the Gospel but to preach it as he did,” he said.

  • In a sacred moment during the Mass, Bishop Robert Brennan breathes into the container of chrism oil to signify the Holy Spirit. (Photos: Paula Katinas)
  • The long line of priests taking part in the procession into the co-cathedral stretched down Pacific Street.
  • As Father Alonzo Cox, the director of liturgy looks on, Bishop Robert Brennan prepares the oil for the blessing. (Photo: Diocese of Brooklyn)
  • During the opening moments of the Mass, the congregation, including women religious, were in prayerful contemplation.
  • Hundreds of clergy members, including priests and deacons, filled the pews in the co-cathedral for the Mass.

The Mass, which took place at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, is a long-cherished tradition of the Catholic Church in which a bishop consecrates the chrism oil and blesses the other sacred oils that are used for baptisms, confirmations, anointing of the sick, and other rituals in churches throughout the year.

A highlight of the Mass came when Bishop Brennan breathed into the vessel containing the chrism oil, a gesture that reminds all that the Holy Spirit is coming down to consecrate the oil.

But the chrism Mass, which takes place during Holy Week, has also traditionally served as a vehicle for a bishop to deliver a yearly message of encouragement to his priests.

Hundreds of priests, deacons, auxiliary bishops, women and men religious, and laypeople filled the pews at the co-cathedral Tuesday night to hear Bishop Brennan’s message.

He said the priests of the diocese inspire him every day. “I come to you in profound gratitude, inspired by your love of Jesus and your desire to serve,” he said. 

“We have many challenges together but many joys,” added Bishop Brennan, who asked the priests to pray for him.

In another tradition of the chrism Mass, all of the priests renewed their vows of obedience to the bishop — the same vows they made at their ordinations. 

It was a big moment for many of the clergy members, who said it gave them a chance to reflect on their lives.

“I am looking forward to renewing my vows,” said Father Rony Mendes, parochial vicar for St. Sebastian Church in Woodside, as he awaited the start of the Mass. “I was ordained 18 years ago, and I still remember reciting my vows at my ordination. I was excited and a little nervous, but deep down, I felt at peace.”

Father Mendes also recalled the first time as a young priest he was handed bottles of chrism oil from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the bishop of Diocese of Brooklyn at the time, following a chrism Mass. “It was quite a big moment for me to receive these oils that are an important part of our faith,” he explained.

The Mass also served as a salute to jubilarians — priests marking milestone anniversaries of their ordinations. There were priests at the co-cathedral celebrating their 65, 60, 50th, and 25th anniversaries.

For Father Sebastian Andro, administrator of the Basilica of Regina Pacis, this year marks his 25th anniversary as a priest. 

He vividly remembers the day of his ordination in 1998. “I felt the Holy Spirit at work,” he said. He also recalled how happy his family and friends were for him. “There was a lot of joy that day. It was a real celebration for all of us,” he said.

When asked what advice he has for young men just entering the priesthood, Father Andro summed up his answer in one word: service. 

“I would tell them to always put service at the head of everything — service to God, service to the people,”  he explained.If you do that, you can’t go wrong,”