By Liz Sullivan
The Diocese of San Jose celebrated a rite of Lent on March 20: the blessing of the oils during the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph. During the Mass Bishop Patrick J. McGrath blessed and consecrated the oils to be used by the diocese in the coming year.
These oils are: the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and Holy Chrism, which will be used in the administration of the sacraments throughout the diocese’s 54 parishes.
“The Chrism Mass is our annual celebration during which we bless and consecrate the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick and Sacred Chrism. It also recalls the Last Supper commission of the Apostles as priests of the New Covenant,” said the Bishop. “Tonight, on the first day of Spring, we renew the oils that will be borne to every city, town and neighborhood of the Diocese, so that the sacramental life of the Church – especially celebrated in Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick – will continue to bind us to the Lord.”
This tradition is noted in the early Church as found in the Gelasian Sacramentary (named after Pope Gelasius I, d. 496) but was later absorbed into the Holy Thursday evening Mass. Pope Pius XII issued a new order for Holy Week, which reinstituted a special Mass of the Chrism, distinct from the evening Mass.
Reflecting the population of the Diocese, the Mass was celebrated in three languages: English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
In addition to the blessing of the oils, the numerous priests who were in attendance renewed the promises they took at their ordination. The Diocese also welcomed a new priest to its presbyterate; Father Andrzej Salapata, formerly of the Society of Christ, was accepted into permanent ministry as a priest of the Diocese of San Jose.
“Each of us is an agent of hope, rooted in the promise that God is always with us – that God makes us new. This is the Good News that inspires us in Christian life and service, the Good News we proclaim with joy,” the Bishop continued. “Pope Francis elaborated on this theme in his homily at last year’s Chrism Mass in Rome. I would like to make some of what he said my words, too, as I speak to our priests. ‘Like Jesus, the priest makes the message joyful with his entire person. When he preaches – briefly, if possible – he does so with the joy that touches people’s hearts with that same word with which the Lord has touched his own heart in prayer… when we decide to pick up the phone and arrange to see someone; when we patiently allow others to take up our time.’ Those are his words, not mine.”
Bishop McGrath also acknowledged three priests celebrating their 25th anniversary of priestly ordination: Father Hao Dinh, Father Sergio Ovando and Father Eduardo Obero, as well as Father Enzie Lagatutta, Father Drago Gveric, OFM, and Father Jose Galang, each celebrating 40 years of priesthood. In addition, Father Norman Segovia was recognized for 50 years as a priest and Father Michael Burns and Monsignor Stephen Perata are celebrating their 60th anniversary of ordination.