OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

1 March 2019 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As we prepare to enter into the holy season of Lent, a time of purification and preparation through acts of prayer, penance, and alms giving, I would like to invite you all to celebrate with me the Chrism Mass. The Mass will take place on Tuesday, April 9th at 7:00 pm. The celebration of this liturgy is one of the most significant Masses we celebrate as a diocese. It is an opportunity for the people of God in the diocese to come together with their bishop to express the unity of the Church.

 

Traditionally, the Chrism Mass is celebrated on the morning of Holy Thursday. Due to the size of our diocese and the desire to have as many of our priests, religious and laity present, the Mass is often celebrated on a different day to allow for travel. Two significant actions take place during the Chrism Mass. First, the three sacred oils—the oil of catechumens, the oil of the infirm, and the holy chrism—which will be used in the administration of the Sacraments throughout the next year are blessed by the bishop. Through the blessing and distribution of the sacred oils to all the parishes of the diocese, we are reminded of the infinite love and mercy that God shows us through the Sacraments. They also serve as a reminder of our unity in the diocese; the oils blessed by the bishop but used throughout the diocese.

The second important rite that takes place at the Chrism Mass is the renewal of the promises the priests serving in the diocese made at their ordination. They are reminded through the renewal of their vows to be “united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him” and to be “faithful stewards of the mysteries of God” in their preaching, teaching and celebration of the Sacraments of the Church. The laity who are assembled are asked to pray for the priests and the bishop that the Lord will “keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest.” Given the current crisis in the universal Church related to the sexual abuse scandals, and the great harm we have witnessed in our own diocese, it is all the more important that we as the people of God come together and pray with and for each other. The failure of priests and bishops to live up to the promises they made at their ordination has caused deep and lasting wounds to everyone, especially the most innocent and vulnerable among us. This is an opportunity for us as a community of the faithful to ask God to reignite or strengthen the zeal of our priests to truly embrace their promises and conform themselves to Jesus Christ.

Your prayer and your presence at the annual Chrism Mass is a great witness to the faith and the unity of our diocese. Please consider worshiping with me and the priests of our diocese on Tuesday, April 9th.

Sincerely in Christ,

†Most Reverend Chad W. Zielinski
Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska
Diocese of Fairbanks