Local News Archive
Print Issue: April 7, 1994
Priests Share Bond, Renew Vows At Chrism Mass
By Susan Stevenot Sullivan
The priests of the archdiocese gathered the morning of March 29 in a line of fellowship that wound from the outside the doors of the Cathedral of Christ the King nearly the length of the church.
Their albs, dazzlingly white in the sun, danced in the playful breeze as they exchanged handshakes, hugs and wisecracks which caused relaxed laughter to ripple along the smiling row.
For most, procession preparations for the annual Chrism Mass were marked by a comfortable familiarity, though none had preceded this shepherd into the cathedral for his liturgy before.
For a few moments the shadow of Palm Sunday storms was cloaked in dogwood and azalea blossoms, the concerns of parish and personal life dimmed as they prepared to renew their priestly promises. They would return to their North Georgia posts later that day with brotherhood in their hearts and the newly-blessed holy oils of the Church in their hands.
During his homily Archbishop John F. Donoghue spoke of his developing relationships with the priests of his new See.
. . . I have been greatly reassured by out ability to work together, both in groups and one-on-one. On issues where we have found ourselves in agreement, I know that the Church at large has greatly benefited from that agreement. But we have not always agreed, and where dialogue has been needed, I can honestly say that our discussions have been characterized by openness and sincerity.
And finally, when the call has been mine to make, I have always been honored by your understanding of obedience, a testament of your priestly courage and your devotion to the Church.
The archbishop asked the approximately 100 priests present to undertake two special missions as part of their ministry. The first concerned the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, which will be available in English for the first time in June.
I believe that this catechism is a pivotal moment for the post-conciliar Church, and certainly one of the most significant actions of Pope John Pauls papacy, the archbishop said. This catechism is the action manual of Vatican Council II, the dynamic and practical realization of the intent, the language and the new attitudes proposed in the Conciliar documents.
It teaches the faith in a very clear, non-political language, a language which is accessible to all, and contains a wealth of references from the evangelists, the doctors and saints of our Church. And although addressed to the bishops of the world, the people of the universal Church have already claimed it for their own. My sincerest wish is that the new catechism will be presented and accepted in this archdiocese as it is.
I encourage you all to accept this as one of the most significant events in our lives as Catholics and especially as priests, charged with the pure transmission of the deposit of our faith.
The second special undertaking the archbishop requested was an increase in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
By doing this, I believe we come closer to fulfilling the spirit of our priestly commitment . . . which speaks of uniting ourselves more closely to Christ, trying to become more like him, imitating him, teaching the faith he expounded, with no thought of self and every thought for the well-being of those in our care...
The archbishop also asked the priests to make a special promise to help one another. He asked the lay people present to join him in prayers of thanksgiving for their priests.
Following the homily the priests stood to renew their commitment to the priesthood and to their bishop.
The procession of oils followed the renewal of commitment. The three large silver urns were borne up the aisle be permanent deacons Alfred Mitchell, Richard Narey and Ray Egan. The archbishop blessed the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens, then prepared, breathed over and blessed the Chrism.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist then continued as usual. The archbishop distributed the Eucharist almost midway down the main aisle, beyond the pews filled with priests, to the Religious, the elderly people, the eight-grade students representing Christ the King and Immaculate Heart of Mary schools and others.
The recessional included the archbishop and the deans of the archdiocese, accompanied by Abbot Dom Bernard Johnson, OCSO, the vicar general, Msgr. Edward Dillon, the master of ceremonies, Father Don Kenny, the seminarian servers and the deacons carrying the urns. The remaining priests followed.
They poured out the doors of the cathedral into the spring light, ready to share another meal, this one intended to nourish the body. Thus fortified, they returned to their communities for the Churchs highest holy days bearing holy oils and holy resolve.