Diocesan News

Oils Blessed, Clergy Renew Vows at Chrism Mass


PROSPECT HEIGHTS — “Broken, mended, stronger” is how Bishop Robert Brennan characterized his faith to the nearly 300 clergy assembled the evening of Tuesday, April 12 for the blessing of the oils at the Chrism Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph.

Deacons, nuns, and laity also attended, filling the co-cathedral for the Chrism Mass, which returned to be fully attended after attendance was limited the last two years due to the pandemic.

  • Priests, deacons, and seminarians flood Pacific Street outside the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph moments before the procession leading into the Chrism Mass during Holy Week, April 12. (Photos: Bill Miller)
  • Bishop Robert Brennan celebrated his first Chrism Mass in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
  • Retired Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros(left) and Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio enter the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph during the procession.
  • Priests make their entrance to the Chrism Mass.
  • Bishop Robert Brennan prays over the vessel containing oil on Tuesday, April 12, during the annual Chrism Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph.
  • Father Sean Suckiel, right and brother priests extend their hands toward Bishop Robert Brennan during the blessing of the oils.
  • Bishop Robert Brennan prepares oil for consecration during the Chrism Mass.
  • Bishop Robert Brennan used his homily during the annual Chrism Mass to thank fellow priests for resilience, humility, and faithfulness during the tumult of the past three years. He said they were, like his once-damaged crozier, “broken, mended, stronger.”
  • Priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn were uplifted by Bishop Robert Brennan’s homily during the Chrism Mass, and they expressed their appreciation later.
  • Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio received plenty of goodwill from priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn following the annual Chrism Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph.
  • Father Sergiy Emanuel visits with Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio outside the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph following the annual Chrism Mass, April 12. Father Emanuel’s family was trapped in Ukraine during the start of the invasion, but the family has safely reached Poland, he said.


It was Bishop Brennan’s first time to celebrate the annual Mass in the Diocese of Brooklyn. This Mass has become a motivational address for the priests.

“Wow, what a sight,” exclaimed Bishop Brennan during his homily. “This is the first time in a couple of years that it is all of us, and that’s thrilling. It’s that sense of happiness and festivity.”

But, Bishop Brennan also noted how the realities of a fallen world are ever-present. For example, he mentioned the subway shooting that happen hours earlier during morning rush hour in Sunset Park that injured 16 people.

“We were kind of shaken to our core this morning — weren’t we? — right here in the borough of Brooklyn when violence hit us at home,” Bishop Brennan said.

Meanwhile, he added, “We’re more than a little conscious of people who are experiencing that kind of violence every day. I think of the people in Ukraine and the war, and the violence, the killing. It’s just awful.”

“We continue to grapple with issues of racism in our nation and in our communities,” he said. “We live in a state that seems even more intent on attacks against human life. We see tensions at their highest level, and indeed violence still rocks us.”

Yet through it all, the brotherhood of priests has remained faithful, Bishop Brennan said.

Their character reminded him of his crozier, made from Long Island oak. But one day, in the middle of a homily, the heavy staff slid from where he placed it, and it hit the floor with so much force that it cracked at the bend in the “hook.”

A priest from the Marianist community on Long Island, who made the crozier, also repaired it.

“When he gave it back to me, he said, ‘You know, it’s not unlike human bones,’ ” Bishop Brennan recalled. “Here, where it broke, is now the strongest part of the wood.”

Only a slight “scar” remained where the break had been.

“Here’s what it says to me,” Bishop Brennan said of the scar. “That’s you, that’s me — broken, and mended, and stronger. We all know our own limits, but we were called by someone who knows us better than we know ourselves — by Jesus. Even through our weakness, we’re broken, mended, stronger, and now anointed and sent.

“Fathers, thank you for recognizing your own limits and, in humility, relying on the help and the grace of Jesus Christ. We are all enriched by your ministry, by your service.”

The centerpiece of the Mass was the blessing of oils to be used throughout the year in the Diocese of Brooklyn for anointing of the sick, baptisms, confirmations, and the ordinations of priests.

Also, as part of the Chrism Mass tradition, priests and deacons of the diocese renewed their promise of obedience to the bishop.

The Mass also was a salute to jubilarians — priests who are celebrating milestones in their priestly lives. There are priests in the diocese marking the anniversaries of their ordinations, including the 70th, 65th, 60th, 50th, and 25th anniversaries.

The Tablet spoke with clergy after the Mass about what they experienced.

“I thought the Mass was absolutely beautiful,” said Father Henry Torres, administrator of Mary of Nazareth Parish in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. “It was good to see so many of my brother priests together once again. The homily was powerful! I was really moved by his words, ‘Broken, mended, and stronger for it.’ ”

Father Dwayne Davis said the Mass “was truly a night for the history books” and “one of the best turnouts that I can remember.”

Father Davis is the pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Flatlands, Brooklyn.

“The bishop’s homily was so good and fitting,” he added.

“He inspired us to recognize who we are and that we are in need of God’s mercy and grace because we can’t do it by ourselves.

“His story was so personal, which draws you into the homily. You could hear the ‘amens’ from the back of the cathedral.”