By Deacon Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross
Bishop Daniel Felton kicked off his first Holy Week as bishop of the Diocese of Duluth with the annual Chrism Mass Monday, April 11, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, joined by most of the priests of the diocese, many of its deacons, representatives from parishes across the diocese, and many people who were preparing for initiation in the Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil a few evenings later, along with women religious and many of the lay faithful.
|Bishop Daniel Felton blows on the Chrism Oil, part of the ritual of consecrating it, at the annual Chrism Mass April 11 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary. (Photo by Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)|
Each year at the Chrism Mass, the oils used in the sacraments throughout the year are blessed and distributed to parish representatives, and the priests of the diocese renew their ordination promises.
Bishop Felton, in his homily, described the Jewish roots of using oil, noting that for Jewish people it was at the center of their life and faith, being used to make bread, light lamps, treat wounds, rub into their skin, bury the dead, anoint kings, prepare altars, and even prepare for battle.
“So we should not be surprised that when Jesus instituted the sacraments, that he would choose to use oil as one of the sacramental signs that always meant [that] in that oil was the very presence of God himself and in that oil is also the graces of God himself, and that as we celebrate this Chrism Mass, we should not be surprised that we are going to bless the oils.”
He went on to describe the three oils being blessed — the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and sacred Chrism — and how they are used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and holy orders. He said that “each one of these oils is absolutely at the heart and the core of who we are in the Catholic Christian people as we celebrate our sacraments.”
|Bishop Daniel Felton blessed the congregation with the book of the Gospels at the annual Chrism Mass April 11, his first as bishop of Duluth. (Photo by Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)|
As for the renewal of ordination promises for the priests, the bishop said he has learned how grateful the faithful are for the priests.
“… I know for each one of us that are gathered here today, I know how much you appreciate our priests,” he said. “We’ve had over 60 listening sessions in our Diocese of Duluth, and in every one of those sessions, people stood up to say: ‘I care about our priests.’ ‘I’m so thankful for our priests.’ ‘I worry about our priests.’”
Turning to the priests of the diocese, who were seated behind him, he continued:
“We are gathered here tonight, in a very special way, as the People of God. And as we are here tonight as the People of God, we are here to tell you we are so thankful for your priesthood. We are so thankful that the day you were ordained, the bishop anointed your hands. And stop to think about it, my brothers, how many times through your hands you have shared the oils and the sacraments that were instituted and given to us by Jesus Christ himself, as you sought to conform your life to Jesus and to be the presence of God in that moment, bestowing upon that person graces. It is no wonder we are here tonight to say ‘thank you.’ it is no wonder that we are here tonight to say that we love you and that we care for you, and we stand one with you.
|Fathers Justin Fish, left, and Joseph Sirba distribute boxes containing sacramental oils to representives of parish who came to the Chrism Mass April 11. (Photo by Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)|
“I stand before you as your bishop tonight. A year ago I was at St. Edward’s in Mackville, Wisconsin, getting ready for the great Holy Week. Who could’ve thunk that a year from then I would be here with you,” he continued. “I don’t want to be anywhere else. I’m so thankful to be here with you as your bishop. You know how much I love you, how much I care for you. It’s genuine. I think it’s just part of the sacrament of Holy Orders to be a bishop, but it’s more than that. You really have touched my heart deeply, and I pray that I can walk with you and be one with you in your hearts as well.”
After the celebration of the Eucharist, the oils were distributed in small bottles for each of the parishes, where they will be used in the sacraments throughout the year.
Last year, Bishop James Powers of the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, came to the diocese to offer it for the second year in a row, as the diocese awaited a new bishop. Less than two weeks later, Bishop Felton’s appointment as the next bishop of Duluth was announced.