Priests of the Archdiocese of Portland process into the Cathedral.
Priests of the Archdiocese of Portland process into the Cathedral.
People had spoken of the beauty of St. Mary Cathedral, but Mary Ellen Stesney gazed around the church in awe as she awaited the start of the Chrism Mass last night.
“It’s beautiful,” she said.  

This was Stesney’s inaugural visit to the Cathedral, as well as her first time witnessing the Chrism Mass.  

As a candidate from Holy Cross Parish, Stesney will officially join the church at Easter. The sacred oil consecrated March 20 will be used when she is confirmed.

Stesney was among the many representatives from around the Archdiocese of Portland who filled the Cathedral’s pews for the important rite, when clergy renew their priestly promises and the oils of the sick, catechumens and Chrism are presented for blessing and consecration.

During the Mass, the clergymen renew their promise of obedience to the archbishop and his successors, and renew their commitment to pastoral ministry and service.

“This is a very special night for our priests,” said Archbishop John G. Vlazny. “A bishop’s relationship to his priests is very special.”

The renewal of promises harkens back to the birth of the priesthood, when Christ entrusted his apostles to carry out his mission, the archbishop said.

“Brothers, I cannot thank you enough for the many ways you’ve helped each other and me,” said Archbishop Vlazny, who celebrated his final Chrism Mass as leader of the church in Western Oregon before Archbishop Alexander Sample is installed April 2.

The Chrism Mass is celebrated each year at the start of the Holy Week. Oils that are blessed and consecrated will be used throughout this Year of Faith to “help us grow” and “become the best versions of ourselves,” the archbishop said during his homily.

After the renewal of priestly promises, the archbishop blesses the oil of the sick, which is used during anointing of the sick. He then blesses the oil of the catechumens, used to anoint candidates while preparing baptism. Finally, the sacred chrism oil is mixed with balsam for use in baptism, confirmation and ordination of priests and bishops, as well as the dedication of churches and altars.

Small vials of the oils are then distributed the representatives from each parish.