For the first time in six years, the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa celebrated the traditional Mass of Chrism with the full blessing of all three oils – Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Sick and Oil of Chrism. These are the oils which will be used for the celebrations of all the sacraments this year. Since, the retirement of Bishop Emeritus Tomas Camacho, and the diocese was without a bishop, only the Oils of Catechumens and the Sick are blessed and the Oil of Chrism was brought in from the Guam. Canonically, only a bishop can consecrate the Oil of Chrism.
During his homily, Bishop Ryan reflected on the Gospel reading which speaks about the anointing received by Jesus Christ and the significance of the sacred oils and the renewal of priestly commitment of the priests. “Being anointed must have meant being blessed, being energized, being inspired, empowered to bring glad tidings, to share the good news!” he explained. Indeed the whole celebration had an aura of excitement because of the presence of all the clergy gathered around the new bishop and even more because of the presence of so many young people in the crowd. Traditionally, the Confirmation students from all parishes witness the Chrism Mass because they will receive the anointing of the Oil of Chrism in a month time during their Confirmation. Bishop Ryan expressed his optimism of one day seeing some of the youths present become seminarians for the diocese or candidates for the religious life. “That would be a more exciting time in the life our local church.”
Bishop Ryan took the occasion also to share his experience of his recent parish visitation where he engaged in dialogued with the parishioners. This is part of the initial preparation for the Pastoral Plan being developed for the diocese. In this initial stage, the bishop is assisted by a small group of clergy and layperson in preparing the Pastoral Plan moving into its next stages. This Pastoral Plan is in line with what Pope Francis reiterated at a General Assembly before his election as the next pontiff, when he emphasized that the mission of the Church is to evangelize: “The Church exists to evangelise – to preach Jesus.”
Another highlight of the Chrism Mass was the renewal of priestly commitment by the clergy of the diocese in front of the bishop and the people. Bishop Ryan reflected upon the number of years in the ministry of each priest currently serving the diocese and he asked the faithful to continue to pray and support the priests. “We need this renewal because we priests rely on the grace of God in order to do God’s work. We need your prayers and it is important for us priests to be grounded in prayer.” Quoting Pope Francis, he reminded the priests that “The strength of our priesthood depends upon our relationship with Christ.” Finally, he exhorted all the priests to love their parishioners as Jesus loves.