Chrism Mass: Community Building in the Archdiocese

April 2, 2013


Archbishop Weisgerber presides at the Mass of Chrism March 25.

By James Buchok

Archbishop Weisgerber wants the churches of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg to celebrate their communities, "to reflect on what God has done for us," and to do so with potluck dinners, dances and parties.

"When I was a pastor my favourite times were the parties," said the archbishop as he celebrated the Chrism Mass, March 25 at St. Mary's Cathedral.

Community building is the final phase of the ten-year pastoral plan set out by Archbishop Weisgerber in his 2005 letter Pastoral Vision, Building A Church of Communion. The vision focuses on four priorities which began with liturgy, education and stewardship.

"The pastoral plan this year and next is to become more and more a community," the archbishop said. "This first year is simply to recognize who we are."

Weisgerber said when he finds discouragement among dedicated parishioners who worry over the lack of attendance of younger generations he is reminded of the parable of the Prodigal Son. "There is a great temptation for us to become like the older brother who stayed with his father and worked and became full of resentment while the younger brother went to look for greener pastures. We forget to rejoice and be glad. And we have to let others see us rejoice and this is where we are in the pastoral plan."

"God is doing wonderful things among us and so often we are so busy trying to help God we forget to thank God. There have been so many friendships created in our church community. But when we get tired and worried we don't want to dance or have a party. In this first year, take another look at our diocesan community and see what God has done for us."

At the Chrism Mass, also known as the Mass of the Oils, the archbishop blesses the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of Chrism and the Oil of the Ill which are then presented to representatives of each church in the diocese to be used in their community's celebration of sacraments throughout the coming year.

"In the end," the archbishop said "it's about oil. Oil is a great sign of overflowing joy. God is here, Jesus is here, present in the community where we meet. That is where we meet Jesus, where we have been anointed by God. God is making us his church, his people, and the oils are a sign of that. Oil is a sign of being chosen. Oil always signifies that God chooses us, graces us and claims us as his well beloved."

The Oil of Catechumens is used to anoint those called in the sacrament of baptism. The Oil of Chrism is used in baptism, confirmation and holy orders. The Oil of the Ill is used in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.

Because the bishop, or in this case archbishop, is the only minister in the diocese who may consecrate chrism, this mass highlights his ministry and his union with the churches of the archdiocese. He will not baptize and confirm everyone in the parishes of the archdiocese, but he will be symbolically present in the chrism which the priests and deacons will use

The mass also included a renewal of commitments to priestly service by the priests of the archdiocese. The priests renew their promises of prayer, obedience and celibacy and recommit themselves to the Lord's service. The archbishop receives their promises, and reminds them of their responsibilities.

The masses' concluding rite included the Distribution of the Oils with representatives from each parish, together with their pastor or administrator being called forward and entrusted with carrying the oils to their faith communities. Each parish was called by name by Msgr. D. Ward Jamieson, archdiocesan Vicar-General and Rector of St. Mary's Cathedral.

Pastoral Vision, Building A Church of Communion can be found on the archdiocesan website at, by clicking on the archbishop's link .

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