(Editor’s Note: Catholic Communications reporter Sharon Roulier attended  the Chrism Mass on March 29 at St. Michael’s Cathedral. You can read her story on Wednesday on  www.iobserve.org and watch highlights of it on “Real to Reel” on Saturday, April 3 at 7 p.m. on WWLP-TV22. )

Almost 1,000 people gathered at St. Michael’s Cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass. The Mass is one of  the largest annual gatherings of clergy and faithful in the diocese. At it, the priests renew the commitments they made at their ordination.

Many of the priests of the diocese filled the pews as part of the Mass.

And the three holy oils, are presented.

The Oil for the Holy Chrism:

Deacon Tomasz Gorny, who will be ordained as a priest on June 5, presents the Holy Chrism

Deacon Gorny gives the oil to Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell and permanent Deacon Tom Callahan of Holy Cross Parish in Holyoke.

The Sacred Chrism is consecrated and all the priests present participate in the moment by extending their hands toward the vessel  as the bishop says the prayer of consecration.

The Chrism is used at the ordination of priests and bishops, baptisms, confirmations, the consecration of altars and the blessing of churches.

As part of the consecration of the Chrism, balsam is poured into the oil, which gives it a sweet smell intended to remind those who encounter it of the “odor of sanctity.” 

 The  Oil of the Sick:

Deacon Piotr Pawlus presents the Oil of the Sick. He, too, will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Springfield on June 5.

  This oil is used when administering the Sacrament of the Sick. If is for those who seek anointing for illness or when they are near death.

The Oil of the Catechumens:

Deacon Tomasz Parzynski, another young man from Poland who will join the ranks of the priesthood on June 5, presents the Oil of the Catechumens

Deacon Parzynski holds the Oil of the Catechumens for a blessing

This oil  is imposed on those preparing for baptism. This oil and the Oil of the Sick are  blessed. The Sacred Chrism is consecrated.

The oils are lined up in front of Bishop McDonnell and Monsignor Christopher D. Connelly, vicar general of the diocese and rector of St. Michael's Cathedral Parish. The deacons are seated in front during this holy time.

Most of those attending the Mass were people who participate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults  and teens from diocesan Confirmation programs.

Behind the scenes, volunteers from Cathedral High School and St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Springfield  helped out in the Holy Spirit Chapel. Under the direction of Father Jack Sheaffer, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, the young people filled the cruets and other containers with the holy oils that will be used in the parishes throughout the year.

High school helpers fill the containers of holy oils


Josh Perkins and Alexa de Villier carefully fill the containers.

Kelly Walsh is part of the holy oil team.

Joe Dziok concentrates on the task

In addition to the young helpers, a dedicated crew made this spectacular celebration possible.

Msgr. Christopher D. Connelly of St. Michael Cathedral Parish organized the event with the help of Father Gary Dailey, diocesan director of vocations, and Deacons Tom Callahan and Leo Coughlin. Many others arrived at  one in the afternoon, including Sisters of St. Joseph Margaret McNaughton and Eileen Sullivan from St. Michael Cathedral Parish. Also lending a hand to carry 49 chairs from the Holy Spirit Chapel to the cathedral were: Tucker Moran, Paul Evans, Una Trudell, sacristan, and Jessica Hill from the Office of Worship. The diocesan seminarians assisted with the clean-up and more moving of furniture!

It was a proud and happy night for the diocese.