Archbishop George Lucas blesses the chrism oil, the oil of the sick and the oil of the catechumens, which are used in thousands of sacraments each year.  SUSAN SZALEWSKI/STAFF


Chrism Mass offers countless blessings

Two archbishops.

Nearly 100 priests and hundreds of other worshippers.

Three holy oils, which will be used in thousands of sacraments throughout the coming year.

Innumerable graces emanating from a once-a-year ceremony, the Chrism Mass, held April 3 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.

That’s the Chrism Mass broken down into a few numbers, but numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Every year on the Monday of Holy Week, Archbishop George J. Lucas gathers at the cathedral with priests from throughout the archdiocese as they renew their priestly promises and the archbishop consecrates the oil of holy chrism and blesses the oil of the sick and the oil of the catechumens.

From there, the oils are distributed to parishes throughout the archdiocese.

The sacred chrism is used in baptisms, confirmations, ordinations and the anointing of altars and churches. The oil of the sick is used to heal and comfort the ill, and the oil of catechumens prepares people coming into the Church and disposes them for baptism.

Last year in the archdiocese, those oils were used in 3,371 baptisms, 3,019 confirmations, two ordinations to the priesthood and countless anointings of the sick.

Some of those who will soon be anointed with the new supply of oils were present at the Chrism Mass, including confirmation students and candidates in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

Archbishop Lucas described the 11 a.m. Mass as a busy liturgy, which also celebrates the priesthood. In some dioceses, the Chrism Mass is celebrated on Holy Thursday.

Nearly 100 priests renewed their priestly vows at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha during the Chrism Mass on Monday, April 3, 2023. SUSAN SZALEWSKI/STAFF

The archbishop thanked the priests, especially as the archdiocese continues its Journey of Faith.

That program has been put in place to help parishes become more mission-oriented while dealing with challenging trends, such as declining numbers of priests, falling Mass attendance and shifting populations.

The priests have been dedicated leaders who, with their congregations, have made sacrifices to help the Church grow, Archbishop Lucas said.

“We have been anointed by God for this moment,” for these particular circumstances, he said. 

The priests are “instruments in God’s Holy Will,” he said. “We rejoice in our part and in the trust He places in us.”

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