By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Listening to more than 70 priests, in unison, renewing their commitment to priestly service inspired many worshippers during the Chrism Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport on March 26.
“To hear the affirmation and to see it in action all year is wonderful,” said Trish Gallagher, director of religious education for Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport.
“We are basically a joyful and fulfilled group,” Bishop Martin Amos said in his homily, reflecting on what it means to be a priest today. “The priesthood into which I was ordained 44 years ago is different and yet is the same: We are still called to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release to prisoners …”
He described ways in which priests provide this ministry and expressed appreciation to the people of the diocese, including approximately 700 at Chrism Mass, for their affirmation of and appreciation for the priests. “There’s one priest I want to acknowledge in a very special way: Bishop William Franklin. On the first of April he will be a bishop for 25 years,” Bishop Amos said, turning toward his predecessor, seated in the sanctuary. The congregation applauded.
As another sign of renewal, Bishop Amos blessed the oils of the Church: the oil of the sick, oil of the catechumen and sacred chrism. The oil of the sick is used for the healing of body, soul and spirit. The oil of the catechumens is to be used to give wisdom and strength to those preparing for baptism. The sacred chrism is to be used for the sacraments of initiation, the ordination of priests and bishops, and the dedication of churches and altars.
“I brought a candidate; I wanted her to experience this Mass and for her to know how important these oils are as she prepares to enter the Catholic Church,” said Jan Tappa of Our Lady of Victory Parish. The experience made an impression.
Many first-timers, and others, were equally awestruck.
“It’s wonderful to see all the priests here, and the bishop offering Mass, and the consecration of the oils and the singing, and the joy. The smiles I see on people’s faces, it’s kind of like Christmas morning,” said Karl Lantzky of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport.
Tracey Jacobsen, also of St. Paul’s, said she got goosebumps seeing a dozen priests gathered around Bishop Amos for the consecration.
The religious atmosphere of the Chrism Mass impressed Margaret Malloy of St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg. “I always enjoy when there’s a whole group of priests together,” she said. Her grandson, Jared Steckley of St. Peter Parish in Cosgrove, served at the Mass, which made it even more special.
“To be up front and hear the Eucharistic prayer said by all the priests was just awesome,” said deacon candidate Bob Shaw, who also had the privilege of doing the first reading. “To see the people of faith just worshipping God — I loved it!”
Father Nick Adam, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell, described the Chrism Mass as very prayerful. “You could tell the people were very supportive in their love of their priests. I was very appreciative of Bishop Amos’ homily, and the (masters of ceremony) did an outstanding job. It was great to see friends from around the diocese,” he said, as he shook hands with one after Mass.
Work and other commitments had previously prevented Deacon Robert Gengenbacher of Holy Family Parish in Fort Madison from attending Chrism Mass — until this year. He was one of about 16 deacons in attendance.
“I’ve been a deacon for 31 years. This is the first Chrism Mass I’ve been to.” He especially appreciated Bishop Amos referring in his homily to clergy and laity all having roles in the Church. The bishop had observed: “We are shepherds and co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord … as St. Paul said so beautifully to the Corinthians: The body is one and has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body … [there is] no dissension in the body, but that all the members may be concerned for one another …”