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Bishop, 60 priests gather in Cathedral to renew vows during Chrism Mass

The following story appeared in the April 8 Idaho Catholic Register.

Priests from throughout the Diocese of Boise joined Bishop Peter Christensen in the celebration of the Chrism Mass on March 31 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Boise. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

By Gene Fadness


BOISE – About 60 priests from throughout the Diocese gathered to renew their vows before Bishop Peter Christensen and those assembled at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on March 31 during the annual Chrism Mass.

During the Mass, the sacred oils that will be used in the parishes of the Diocese at baptisms, Confirmations, anointings, dedications and ordinations were blessed by the Bishop and taken home by representatives of the diocese’s far-flung parishes.

Bishop Peter Christensen pours balsam into the chrism oil before praying the consecration over the oil that will be used over the next year during Confirmations, ordinations and dedications of churches and altars. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

Catholics may not fully appreciate the blessings we receive from anointings. “How many times have I been anointed?” the Bishop asked. He was anointed, for example, on the day he was named a bishop by Pope Benedict XVI for the Diocese of Superior, Wisc., even though no one except those who had called him knew about his upcoming ordination and installation.

The day he heard he was to become a bishop, “I was so shocked, I sat back and sobbed,” he said. It also happened to fall on the day that the Minnesota parish where he served as a priest was having an anointing for the sick. “After we had anointed the others, I asked my associate, ‘Would you anoint me?’ He asked me, ‘Do you have an illness?’ I told him, ‘ Just do it.’ ”

“I value the anointings we receive as Catholics. They are tangible blessings we receive,” the Bishop said. During the liturgy, the Bishop blesses the Oil of Catechumens, the pre-baptismal anointing that signifies cleansing and strengthening; the Oil of the Sick that brings healing and comfort; and the Oil of Chrism, the post-baptismal anointing used for those being Confirmed and ordained as deacons, priests or bishops.

Also during the solemn liturgy, the priests of the Diocese renew vows they made at their ordinations to preach the gospel, to teach the faith, to worthily celebrate the sacraments, to pray without ceasing, and to unite themselves more closely to Christ the High Priest.

The people are then asked to pray for their priests “that the Lord may pour out His gifts abundantly upon them, and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ … ”

Finally, the Bishop asks all to pray for him, that he would faithful to his apostolic office, “that in your midst I may be made day by day a living and more prefect image of Christ, the Priest, the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and the Servant of all.”

Also customary during the Chrism Mass, the Bishop acknowledges those priests who are observing special anniversaries of their ordination this year.

Bishop Peter acknowledged the presence of Father Roger LaChance who has been ordained 55 years; Father Tom Loucks, 45 years; and Father Jerome Montez, Father Evarist Shiyo and Father Remigius Ihim, each 25 years. Also recognized, but unable to attend, were Father David Riffle, 55 years; Monsignor Joseph da Silva, 50 years, and Father Les Kish, 25 years.

Bishop Peter also acknowledged the attendance of many priests and religious from religious orders and hermitages including the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, Verbum Spei, Missionaries Servants of the Word, and Marymount Hermitage.

During his homily, Bishop Peter continued a theme he has been using at past youth and men’s conferences: finding our identity in Christ during an age when people seem to be in search of identity.

It is the task of the priests and all in those in the Church to help those in an increasingly confused culture to find their identity as children of God, “so that they may truly know who they are and that they are loved,” he said.

The Bishop quoted from the Gospel reading for the Mass from Luke 4 where Jesus, beginning his public ministry, quoting Isaiah, said He is the One who is to “bring glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind …”

The Bishop gave the Hebrew definitions for “liberty” as deliverance, letting go, release, pardon, and complete forgiveness; and for “captive,” as prisoner of war.

“Those most in need of pardon and of deliverance are prisoners of war. They are held captive in spirit to the things of this world and not living in the freedom of knowing that they are beloved children of God,” the Bishop said. “That is the Good News that Jesus came to proclaim by His words and actions. He sets people free.”

So many people in today’s world are starving for attention, the Bishop said. “They want to be noticed, but not known. People have distorted their own integrity, their own beauty with tattoos and piercing as if to say, ‘Look at me, look at me, but I don’t want you to really know me. I want to stand out as unique, but I don’t want anyone to really get to know me because I hardly know myself and so much of what I do know about me I don’t like.’ ”

“So many live in isolation and fear. They have drunk the Kool-Aid of this culture and believe what they are told by others will make them happy, but only later they discover the well is dry and their lives are bankrupt of their true meaning,” the Bishop said.

These are the ones for whom Jesus searches, the Bishop told the priests. “He is looking for those who are lost, who are prisoners of the war of lies, lies which keep them locked up within themselves and direct them away from their true identity and worth as beloved children of God.”

Those who are baptized and have received their true identity are anointed of God to bring the “healing ointment of God’s love and salvation to the world in which we live,” the Bishop said. The Chrism Mass, he said, is not just the fulfillment of a tradition, but the “empowerment to take the mission God gives us to bring the Good News of salvation of Jesus Christ to others.”

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.

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